It’s a great honour for me, Seamus O’Leary, to preside at the 2009 Shelmalier GAA Clubs AGM meeting here to day and follow in the proud footsteps of the people who have held this post before me.
I would like to remember all the men and women who have played, held office or supported the club in any way during its history, their contribution and efforts has helped this club build and flourish to what it is today. I am particularly proud to be following in the footsteps of my late father Mogue O’ Leary and my wish for the future is to restore many of his characteristics, endeavours and efforts to this club.
The time since taking on the position as Chairman of the Shelmalier GAA Club has been both very challenging but also very rewarding. My first objective on taking this position was to listen to and assess the requirements, demands and criticism of all the stakeholders in this club. In this regard we are indebted to the members, players, parents and supports of the club who were so willing to contribute to this process. Through the underage parent’s questionnaire, open forum, player’s forum and other means of communication we were able to accurately assess these needs. In fact many of these people were very appreciative of been given the opportunity to voice their opinions. The image that we are a listening club certainly helps us in building a strong community based environment within the club.
The results of this investigation showed that we were doing many of the core activities of the club very well. However, it also showed that there were many other facets of club activities we were not properly catering for or we were unaware that these needs existed. The biggest criticism of the club was a lack of community spirit and activities, the poor state of the club grounds, the lack of opportunity for parents and supporters to take part in club activities, the lack of suitable activities and facilities for parents, supporters and non players. The player’s forum and open forum also highlighted many important items including the realisation for all players of the need to take greater personal responsibility to ensure club success on the field of play, the essential part that subcommittees can play in the effective administration of the club and the urgent need to tackle the obvious ‘split’ in the club.
With this information we set out to tackle many of the items highlighted and we are indebted to the support given by all members and supporters to these efforts. The initial cleanup of the clubs grounds was a great starting point and was an immediate public reaction to the call for help and the craic and camaraderie among the many workers was a great boost to this community process. The club autumn barbeque also showed the tremendous spirit in the club and the willingness of new people not previously involved in the club to volunteer their talents and skills to promote the club. The club badminton, ladies keep fit classes , under age coaching were other examples of sharing the load in order to cater for the needs of all our members. The Secretary has reported extensively on the many activities of the club in the last 12 months off the field of play and I would like to officially thank each and every person for their help and support.
The secretary has also reported extensively on the playing side of the club, but I would like to highlight a few additional points.
At under age level it was a year of no county titles apart from the Jim Byrne Cup victory and a change of our recent past. However, I have no doubt that all our under age players, managers, selectors and trainers gave the same hard work and commitment as in previous years without it been recognised with any silverware. These efforts will no doubt be rewarded in the future. The ongoing problem of the lack of playing numbers at under 8, 10 and 12 levels had to be tackled immediately and I have every confidence in the recently formed Coaching and Games Development committee in rectifying this situation. Anybody witnessing their mobilisation of both teachers and young players from all our national schools in the Complex in recent months has every confidence in their long-term success. I would like to thank all the personnel involved at underage level in the club together with the players and their parents.
Our senior footballers again experienced the heartbreak of just failed to reach the county final for the second year in a row and again missing out by the narrowest of margins. This group of players have made great progress in recent years and they have gained valuable experience in doing so. However, they must now utilise this potential and experience in attempting to go all the way to county success in 2010.
Our hurlers enjoyed success in winning the under 21 championship for the second year. However, we must contrast this with our senior hurlers whose progress and performance was very disappointing. While just missing out in many matches the records show just one match won at senior level this year and is not what we expect from this group of players. While people may argue were the responsible may lay for these performances and perhaps may be voiced here today, I was heartened by the players recent assessment who voiced the strong opinion at the recent player’s forum that in order to reach their full potential that they need to take ownership, responsibility and commitment for their performance on the field of play. They also highlighted the over demands on players who are involved in both codes particularly when there is no championship matches.
2010 is also an important year in the history of the Shelmalier GAA Club with the celebration of the centenary of Castlebridge’s 1910 success. The 1910 committee have organised an extensive programme of events during the year and I invite all members to actively participate in these events.
We were delighted to receive the lotto funding of €290,000 in order to stabilise the development programme. However, with a large portion of this funding already allocated, the need for effective and long term fundraising is of urgent importance to facilitate borrowing repayments and further development. With Screen National School coming to the centre on February 2010 the need for the club to facilitate a smooth and effective transition is important to both parties. The club is now a hive of activity on a nightly basis and the fruits of our labours in recent years are very visible to see. The recent addition of a walkway adds further to our facilities and delivers on a long term commitment we made to all the people of the parish. Great credit is due to everybody who made these facilities possible and I would like to sincerely thank them for their great efforts. While ongoing development is always necessary and desirable, we must recognise that our emphasis must now shift to a long term financial sustainability. We must have an effective fundraising programme in place to support these long term financial demands. With this in mind a new local lotto will begin in January and I would appeal to every Shelmalier player, member and supporter to get behind this new initiative and others so that our commitments can be met both on a short and long term basis.
Finally, I would like to thank and recognise the contribution that all our members, players and supporters of the Shelmalier GAA Club have made to the success of the club during the past year. I would like to thank the many club sponsors whose contributions has helped us develop many areas of the club. I would also like to sincerely thank the members of the club management committee for the crucial role you play in the effective running of the club during the year. A special thanks to the present officers of the club and I would to recognise the tremendous work and commitment they gave to the club during the year. In particular I would like to thank Peggy, Deirdre, Denis, Larry, Paul, Angela, James and Mick; you were very supportive and helpful to me in carrying out my duties as Chairman of the Shelmalier GAA Club. Finally I would like to thank Noel and Anne for the hard work and commitment to the club over many years.