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Connelly warns of challenges ahead

Sport

A LIGHTER MOMENT Mayo GAA Board chairman Mike Connelly relaxes before the start of last Sunday's County Convention. Pic: Conor McKeown

Chairman’s report

Mike Finnerty

“MAYO GAA has grown into something that needs to change to keep up with the growth that we’re experiencing.”
These were the words of County Board chairman, Mike Connelly, at last Sunday’s County Convention as he laid out some of the challenges facing Mayo GAA in 2018.
 “The structure [of Mayo GAA] needs to change, and when you think of all the changes that Mayo GAA has seen in the last ten years. . .” mused Connelly.
“A stadium investment of €17m, repayments of €400k a year, income of €3.3m, expenditure of €3.1m this year, managing payments to a total of roughly 170 players, expenses to backroom teams, management teams, coaches, managing payments to roughly 100 Cúl Camp coaches, managing payments to roughly 100 referees, and managing the day-to-day running of MacHale Park expenses.
“They are just some of the examples, and trying to grow the organisation at the same time is not easy.”
The Hollymount/Carramore clubman, who has just completed three years in his position, also warned that the issue of insurance for club’s property and players was now ‘the big elephant in the room’ for Mayo GAA clubs.
“This is becoming a very serious issue for clubs,” he declared.
“All levels of the organisation have to play their parts in reducing the cost of insurance.
“We as a board must have insurance on the agenda on a regular basis, but clubs must also have insurance on the agenda on a regular basis.
“Player insurance is also a big issue for clubs, and using private health insurance is one way of reducing the cost.”
Connelly also stressed that he believes that managing finances and the new inter-county championship structures will pose big challenges for both club and county administrations.
Another subject that came under the microscope in the chairman’s annual address was Mayo hurling.
“The future of Mayo hurling needs to be looked at” said Connelly, who added that due to the fact that there are only four senior clubs in the county, it ‘was always going to be difficult to maintain high status, and bringing in players from other counties is only creating a false economy.’
“The hurling clubs with our sub-committee need to sit down and draw up a five to 10 year plan for our county in order to be successful, and the target must be eight to 10 clubs to give them better competition within Mayo,” he said.
One of Connelly’s big projects in 2017 — a review of coaching and games development in Mayo GAA — will also feature highly on his agenda next year.
“Our new coaching review will hopefully deliver change, and it will be the Mayo way. The skill improvement of our players, which is crucial, more involvement of past players, more coaching support for our clubs, and more coaching support for our secondary and national schools.”
In relation to the Mayo senior football team, Connelly described the 2017 season as ‘successful’ and ‘busy’ and bringing ‘both joy and heartache’ for Mayo fans.
“We had a great journey” he told delegates.

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