County Convention report

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The convention road show pulled into Ballina after Storm Desmond had wreaked havoc across the country. Indeed, parts of Mayo suffered particularly badly, with Crossmolina worst hit. The day itself turned out beautiful and maybe in a strange way it reflected the mood of the Mayo faithful in that we had weathered a particularly bad storm but come out the other side into the sunshine.

Convention 2015 1

Photo: @MayoGAA

After the traditional blessing, the outgoing Uachtaráin Jim Fleming made his opening address in which he thanked Noel and Pat, welcomed Stephen Rochford and thanked JP Lambe (this was the theme for the day). Jim posed an interesting question during his speech: has the drive for Sam become all consuming within the county? I think it’s a fair point and one that’s worthy of debate.

Next up came the Cathaoirleach’s address to the convention and if people had been expecting any scores to be settled then they would be disappointed. He gave a well delivered speech in which he touched on coaching and player development, health and well-being as well as thanking JP and the myriad of organisations and individuals who contribute to the county during the year. He did raise the issue of the coup and again reiterated that he had no idea trouble was brewing, but he did single out the GPA in particular as being useless during the whole debacle.

The financial reports threw up a few interesting nuggets of information. Firstly, the way they are presented gives the impression, to the layman at least, of grossly inflated financial health. This year, for example, the figures looked on first impression that we ran a surplus of €5 million when in fact we ran a profit of €90k. A similar layout last year inflated the profits by €150k and this was pointed out by Michael Diskin, who is an accountant.

Belmullet raised the issue of the lack of funding we received in government grants. They pointed out we received only €190k while Cork received €20million for the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

JP Lambe told us that they had a meeting with the Department of Sport and then Minister John O’Donoghue in which they had submitted all the relevant paperwork for the grants. He then when on to say that when they subsequently inquired as to why they didn’t receive a grant they were told that they never submitted the paperwork and that the Department had no record of any meetings between them and the minister. Seán Feeney quickly interjected to say that he was at the meeting as well but that the minister had no money to give anyone.

Ardaíodh na deleages Béal an Mhuirthead freisin ar an tsaincheist an easpa tacaíochta dár dteanga dúchais sa bhord an chontae. Seo resulted in aghaidheanna bán ar fud an tábla barr.

It was pointed out that the Players Lotto fund had raised over €17k between August and October with further expansion expected.

The Cisteoir position turned into a one-horse race after Seán Feeney withdrew his name from the race. Kevin O’Toole takes over the reins and I think he’s a good man for the position. He helped steady the ship during his short tenure as Runaí, was responsible for getting a €600k write down from the MacHale Park debt and was instrumental, along with Michael Diskin, in establishing Cairde Mhaigh Eo.

There ended up being only three candidates for the position of PRO after Enda Munnelly withdrew from the race. Paul Cunnane won the election on the first count and takes over from Aiden McLoughlin who is stepping down after five years. Paul was on the PR committee along with Aiden so he should hit the ground running. An added bonus is that due to his young age and the retirement of JP, the average age of the top table will drop by about 15 years, which should greatly reduce their group life insurance payments.

Convention 2015 2

Photo: @MayoGAA

The highlight of the day, for me anyway, was the address by the new senior manager Stephen Rochford. In fairness most of his speech had been already been used in some portion during his numerous media interviews during the week, but his obvious pride at being manager of his native county came through clearly while he spoke. He again mentioned being ultra competitive in every game, of ensuring that every detail is looked after and of looking forward to the evenings growing longer, signifying the coming of championship football.

Stephen exudes a quiet confidence that is infectious and as he left the room you could sense that everyone was feeling that the right man had been chosen for the job. A delegate sitting beside me said that he gave the impression of a man in complete control and that he was also a sound man, before adding he gave him a loan when he was manager of the AIB in Claremorris.

I won’t go into great detail about all the motions that were debated, because most of them are fairly mundane. A motion was put forward by Knockmore that the U21 grade be totally abolished. While it was well defeated I think the purpose of the motion was to start a debate on player burnout and it succeeded in achieving that.

The other motion worth mentioning was Ballaghaderreen’s, proposing that in future the two competing counties get first preference for tickets before they go on sale in supermarkets or online. This motion was unanimously carried and it makes perfect sense as the job of getting club membership subs off people is tough enough as it is.

This year’s comedy relief was courtesy of the delegate who managed to demand the microphone and have an opinion on EVERY motion proposed. On one occasion he seconded a proposed motion then rabidly argued AGAINST it. The mumblings and muffled expletives of his fellow delegates, the top table, press and the hotel staff every time he signalled for the microphone was genuinely encouraging and he visibly grew in confidence as the day dragged on towards its fourth hour.

Finally, the similarities between 2014 and 2015 for Mayo football are obvious: defeat after a drawn semi-final and a managerial crisis off the field attracting more attention than our actions on it. Last year in Kiltimagh you could sense the tension and electricity in the air, you sensed that people were angry after Limerick and the handling of the managerial appointments. This year the atmosphere was completely different, the cordite was replaced with confidence. I’m often accused of being overly optimistic, but I felt as we left Ballina today, that finally we might have the right people in the right positions both on and off the field.

51 thoughts on “County Convention report

  1. [Deleted].

    What are the group life insurance payments and how much extra were we paying before due to having older members on co board.

    Were the county board happy with the 17000 raised on lotto for aug to oct. Given the demand for all ireland tickets I thought we could have made a killing on the lotto in September.

  2. Done Deal – I’m sorry but you can’t make a statement like the one in the first sentence of your comment so I’ve deleted it. Also, that bit about group life assurance was clearly a joke.

  3. Thanks for a concise and humorous report on Convention, Willie Joe. Liked the bit about the group life assurance while not believing it, unlike Done Deal. I’m not sure what the demand for All Ireland tickets was like considering we were not in the final or why Sept lotto returns might have been higher. The last thing I wanted in Sept was an All Ireland ticket.

    The lotto could have made a few euro more if I were able to do it. As I said before on this site an issue with my password prevents me from doing so and contact with SmartLotto failed to resolve the issue. They suggested that I open a new Email account. Text messages to Mayo GAA Admin 0868378457 were equally futile. My club [and I] have been using Local for several years and we have never experienced such issues. No password is needed there.

  4. I see belatedly that the convention report was by Interested Observer. Thanks for that, Observer.

    It seems remarkable that it is only now we hear that no state funding was available, presumably for the redeveloping of MacHale Park. I cannot now recall when exactly MacHale Park was redeveloped. Did it start before or after the financial crisis hit [2008]? It seems even more remarkable that we accepted the excuse that we had not applied and that the Dept had no record of meeting our officials. Did we not involve our local public reps, esp those on the Government side at the time of application? Did we make a mistake in going ahead without funding? I think we could have waited a year at least while reapplying [by registered post and several witnesses].

  5. Interested observer…aghaidheanna bán? An raibh an cheist i ngaeilge? Agus ní raibh siad in ann chun é a fhreagairt? dochreidte!

    Regarding the man who demanded the microphone, theres one of them at every sort of AGM and meeting up and down the country.

  6. Andy – just assumed given the demand for all ireland tickets in the dublin, kerry and galway last September we would have had hundreds of outsiders playing every week for the chance to win all ireland tickets.

  7. “Were the county board happy with the 17000 raised on lotto for aug to oct. Given the demand for all ireland tickets I thought we could have made a killing on the lotto in September.”

    Given the climate we were in with the team over these 3 mths I would say over 3,000 ticket sales per mth is good.

  8. Hi AndyD – I also had problems with my Smart Lotto in the beginning but I got it sorted. I’m sure you’ve tried multiple times but sometimes “Smart Phones” put the cursor one character space after your typing and that will register as a character. You just delete back one space to ensure it doesn’t register the space in the username and/or the password. Maybe not helpful – but just in case.

    I think the Smart Lotto is definitely the way to go for funding because it is constant and something you can easily grow. There is also a feel good factor for people who are abroad. The hard part is just getting them to register.

  9. Interesting reading in the Western this afternoon – concerning the facilitator Martin Conroy’s report of the mediation process, there was apparently proposals forwarded to the county board concerning three main areas, one of which seemed to be around more meetings should be held with player reps, while another seemed to concern manager recruitment in general.

    But of most interest seemed to be this cryptic conversation between the Moygownagh delegate and Mike Connolly, where the chairman was asked was the county open to some sort of financial exposure, along with references to a “nest” and Revenue getting involved. Perhaps since it is now somewhat in the public domain, Willie Joe might permit some fleshing out of what all that was about, but understandable if you don’t want to permit this discussion WJ?

  10. I don’t mind a discussion, Digits, provided it’s based on the facts as they’re reported and not on unsubstantiated speculation. The usual rules apply, in other words.

  11. Same for me AndyD.. the password to get into the Smart lotto has beaten me to am afraid. Tried several times to log on but no luck.. If we’re having problems you can be dam sure many more are also

  12. Agree toe to hand. I’m somewhat relieved to know that I’m not alone. What beats me is why SmartLotto needs a password at all since Local Lotto has been operating without one for several years. SmartLotto is, I understand, a new kid on the block and I would have thought that if it was to have a reason for existing it would have to simplify or otherwise improve the procedure rather than complicate it. My previous experience with websites which require passwords is that they usually require the password is changed fairly regularly, usually every 2 – 3 months. This does not seem to be the case with SmartLotto so again I wonder why they need a password at all.

  13. Fair play to Dublin chairman John Costello. Not content with the All Ireland, POTY, getting Diarmuid Connolly off the red card, smothering discussion on Philly McMahons behaviour, turning Croker into your home ground, having financial resources of a Premiership club and the biggest population by a country mile, he still found time to blame Mayo for only getting €15,000 towards their team holiday.
    With a sense of entitlement like that it’s only a matter of time before a Tory peerage and a seat in the House of Lords is bestowed on John.

  14. Liam, saw your very ably compiled Costello catalogue.

    Here’s one more item: he ‘slammed’ (most media descriptions) Darragh O’Shea as ‘mean spirited’ for daring to suggest that Diarmaid Connolly was a wee bit volatile and could be wound up.

    And, maybe you could amend the second sentence: ‘not content with three All Ireland’s in five years…’

  15. Will say this for Costelloe. He runs a streamlined organisation. No internal controversy . No player or managerial conflict. Ergo success on the pitch. We on the other hand…a fuck it, it’s too near Christmas and I’ve had enough of grown men crying at county board meetings.

  16. He did a Fr. Ted Golden Cleric on it. By the end of his statement was waiting on
    “and now onto blaggarts”

  17. I’m not sure you’re comparing like with like there, John. Costello is the Dublin County board CEO, a full-time paid position, leading an organisation that sustains several full-time jobs. If he wasn’t running a streamlined organisation people would be entitled to ask questions. It’s also, by the way, an organisation that has a tsunami of money flowing into it on an annual basis (and so one well capable of funding as many holidays as they want). They still have their County Board with the usual suite of Officers sitting on it, by the way, so who knows what kind of blubbering they get up to when they meet?

  18. Interested Observer. I enjoyed your report on the convention thanks for posting. Delighted there’s changes in the top table and an opportunity for new faces to shine. Glad to hear that SR addressed the convention and that he was well received. A positive outlook is always the correct starting position, we all own the future.

  19. Willie Joe – not sure if its just my machine (iMac dektop), but the results archive scrolling section is showing on the home page (2002-11), and I don’t seem to be able to click and make it disappear.

    Thought I’d let you know.

  20. Thanks Catcol. I know about that issue alright – it relates more to your broadband connection. If the page is loading slowly, that scrolling thing can hang there but should disappear when the site loads fully. It’s a glitch I need to get sorted at some stage but there are, shall we say, competing priorities on my to-do list!

  21. John C you are comparing apples and oranges when comparing Mayo and Dublin. They have an abundance of excellent players and loads of money We struggle when we get to player No 20 , and are heavily in debt. Yet amazingly we compete ferociously with them on the field beating them in 2012, losing by point in 2013 and taking them to a replay this year. Credit where it is due.

  22. Dublin do not win the AI every year. Teams with less resources than them manage to win national silverware. Donegal in 2012 spring to mind immediately. In this relatively new century teams from all four provinces have stepped up and closed the deal.

  23. Berry,

    Results since the turn of the century proves that resources do matter. All of the counties which won football All Irelands since 2000 have bigger populations than Mayo, even if marginally so in some cases. [Agreed that arguments can be made about allegiances in case of Tyrone and Armagh]
    It can also be said with some justification that it is only comparatively recently that Dublin started to get its act together regards maximising its resources and sponsorship possibilities.

  24. I just seen these Fixtures on

    Weekend of January, 24
    AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Football Club Championship Semi-Finals

    Hollymount-Carramore (Mayo) v Loughinisland (Down)
    Ratoath (Meath) v St Mary’s (Kerry)

    Weekend of January, 24
    AIB All-Ireland Junior Football Club Championship Semi-Finals

    Ardnaree (Mayo) v Rockcorry (Monaghan)
    Curraha (Meath) v John Mitchel’s (UK)/Templenoe (Kerry)

  25. Thanks, HSE. [Do you not have an issue with sharing your initials with that much maligned organisation?].
    This is the w/e of the FBD Final, hopefully a clash of fixtures for some.

  26. Kerry had their convention at weekend too, they had a profit of 907000. Mayo had a profit of 90000.

  27. Your grand AndyD, no worries about the name abbreviation!

    There was no mention of venues yet for these games, it’ll be interesting to see where they will be played.

  28. I have just got my hands on the Western People and reading the Convention reports am intrigued by the exchange between the Chairman and Billy Heffron. It seems Billy is worried about a possible tax liability while the Chairman feels that “who knows what’s down the road for us”. A surprising response I thought, as a tax liability is a bit like pregnancy, you either are or are not. And surely, after a year in office, the Chairman should know whether we are or not. Furthermore I read it as if the possible liability was connected in some way to “the heave” against the outgoing management and “the nest” which he seems to imply was responsible for “the heave”.
    And I cannot understand how accounts can be presented to Convention if there is a possible tax liability without mentioning that liability. Nor can I think of any better way of inviting a tax audit than having a public discussion on the possibility. I presume that the accounts were properly audited by a competent auditor who should have been definitive whether there was a liability or not. But then Seanie Fitz/David Drumm and Fingleton had auditors too.
    The Chairman then seems a bit confused about the origins of the GPA. “We created the GPA, we give them funding annually” he says. My memory of the GPA is that it was founded by players initially primarily from Cork following their initial strike and it was only very reluctantly accepted by the powers that be when the players showed that they were ready to take action if they continued to be ignored. I have outlined some time back my own futile effort, following the heave against Brian McDonald as manager, to ensure that county senior panels had a voice at Co Board. Why the Chairman expected the GPA to act as mediators in the push against the then management I cannot understand. The GPA’s role is to support players [unless the players demands are totally unreasonable].

  29. Jumping the gun here but the finals of the Int/Jun club championships are on 6th Feb. The same day we face the Dubs in Castlebar. Hopefully another fixture clash, but they could have held them the following week when the NHL begins.

  30. Seems like a lul in activity on here lately. Not a bad thing in a way. It means there are no vacuums/gripes. Long may it continue

  31. Interesting alright AndyD but there are always agendas at play with the County Board and as Kevin McStay and others know whatever is stated is not always the case. So unless somebody as something to say they should not be talking in code to try and stir trouble.

  32. Trevor, it seems as though the Mayo fans have finally decided that they want no more to do with football. Can you imagine ifthatwere true ? My guess is the Christmas season and alltherainyou have being getting there is taking up a lot of time in people’s lives.

    (Weather related thing to make you jealous, this weekend will be record warm in new York, 65 Fahrenheit, which is akin to a great summer day in ireland, on Monday last I watched honey bees feeding off a flower still blooming in my neighbours yard. Strange days.)

    Come January I think the talk on here will be through the roof, who willbe dropped, brought in, and that type stuff.

    Hup Mayo

  33. AndyD

    You are mixing up two different meetings there, Billy Hefferon spoke at the county board meeting and Mike Connellys comments were made at the County Convention.

  34. AndyD, I fail to see how a raw list of the populations of the AI winning counties prove any such thing. Galway is a major hurling county, therefore a considerable number of its resources will go down that path. Galway city being a sizeable urban area will also have its other sporting distractions such as rugby and association football. Their AI winning team was actually drawn from a relatively small geographical area within the county. Your references to allegiances in counties like Armagh and Tyrone are very valid in that a sizeable proportion of the population are never really in the running, excuse the pun. I would imagine the resources in human terms available in any of these three counties is actually less than what is available to Mayo. I read recently that thirteen or fourteen of current Mayo squad is based in Dublin. On most days they along with the large number of Mayo people living in the capital would not be included in a census count of their native county.

    I do not really want to get into census head counts if for no other reason than it is boring. My reaction will always be a resounding well done to any county that wins the AI. At the end of day it is fifteen winners out on the pitch. The losers will have their drop down menu of ready excuses.

  35. Berry,

    Facts are facts, whether one wishes to acknowledge them is up to oneself. Whether one wants to see them as a drop down menu is also up to oneself.

    All counties have other sports, particularly rugby and soccer, competing for the attention and loyalty of its young people. Soccer and rugby are normally seen as the major competitors to the GAA but I would suggest that golf is equally so.
    I would also suggest that soccer, rugby and golf in Mayo is just as competitive as in any other county. Certainly every parish in the county seems to be covered by one club or another allowing for the fact that, unlike the GAA, soccer is not traditionally organised on a parish basis. All the larger and medium size town also have their rugby clubs.

    Occasionally a county can break through despite population disadvantages but this is becoming rarer as team preparation becomes more intensive and professional. Those counties often depended on a rare coming together of usually a few families, e.g. Offaly with the Connor’s, Lowry’s and Fitzgerald’s in football and Dooley’s, Whelehan’s and Pilkington’s in hurling.

    Mayo having one third of their panel based in Dublin is another disadvantage compared to counties like Dublin or Galway who have almost all of their players based at home. It also means that more of their young players get a real chance to make a breakthrough via their their clubs compared to players facing the time and cash constraints of a three/four hour twice weekly journey if they want to play for their club.

  36. Can anybody tell me if the motion for the ‘Starred League games’ to be dropped was passed or not?

  37. Just a quick update on fixtures in the new year that I seen on HoganStand. The venues have been chosen for the All-Ireland Football IFC and JFC semi-finals. No venue has been decided yet for Castlebar’s All-Ireland semi-final but the date has.

    Sunday 24 January
    AIB All-Ireland IFC semi-final
    Hollymount-Carramore (Mayo) v Loughinisland (Down), Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan 14:00 (E.T. if Necessary)

    AIB All-Ireland JFC semi-final
    Ardnaree Sarsfields (Mayo) v Rockcorry (Monaghan), Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon 14:00 (E.T. if Necessary)

    Saturday 13 February
    AIB All-Ireland SFC semi-final
    Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo) v Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh), TBC, TBC, (E.T. if Necessary)

  38. Carrick on Shannon seems the most logical venue for Castlebar v Cross to me. Alternatives: Sligo or Longford.

  39. AndyD i expect the Castlebar Crossmaglen game will be in Cavan. We cannot expect the Armagh supporters to traverse our bumpy roads to Leitrim or Longford and Cavan just around the corner from them. Cavan is a horrendous journey from Castlebar once you turn off the road. I have made the journey more times than I care to remember, give me Limerick anyday

  40. Finals usually held in Croke Park for the JFC and IFC. What a disgrace again, 2 Mayo clubs playing the same day, you’d think they’d find some common ground and have the two clubs playing as a double header. That’s the GAA for you however.

  41. The Castlebar/Cross game should be at a Leinster venue.Mullingar or Navan–a very well drained pitch. Tullamore would be suitable as well.

  42. IMO, the real comedy was whether or not the meeting with the minister for fun ever took place? Either it did, or it didn’t. In this day and age it should be simple …comical really.

  43. I was going to say something definitive and then I thought back to previous pairings. If it’s logic you’re after, forget it.

    2001: Mayo v Tyrone U21F Sligo
    2004 Mayo v Armagh U21F Cavan
    2006: Mayo v Tyrone U21 SF Cavan
    2008: Mayo v Tyrone Minor Replay Longford

    Would love to be a fly on the wall when these decisions are being made.

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