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County Board need to work with clubs

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AIRING HIS VIEWS Ardnaree Sarsfields GAA club chairman Johnnie O’Malley.  Pic: James Wright Photography

Edwin McGreal

THERE needs to be a considerable change in how decisions are made at Mayo GAA County Board level.
That’s according to Johnnie O’Malley, the chairman of Ardnaree Sarsfields GAA club and also their County Board delegate.
O’Malley has also thrown his hat in the ring for one of the two delegates from Mayo to be elected to the Connacht GAA Council at the upcoming County Convention on Sunday, December 15.
“Right now it would appear that the organisation in Mayo is democratic in name only,” he told The Mayo News. It would be wrong to be super-critical – football is generally well enough run. There is a €3.5 million annual turnover so a lot is being done right.
“But my perspective is that there is a disconnect between clubs and county board and the county executive. There would be a feeling decisions are being made by a very narrow base at county level. Are the executive being consulted? Are the county board being consulted?”
“Clubs need to be much more central in the decision-making process and this needs to be formalised,” continued the former Fianna Fáíl county councillor.
“If I’m elected [as Connacht GAA delegate] the first thing I will be doing is pushing at executive level that we come up with aspirations of what we want and need for the county and then put in a plan around those aspirations.
“Speak to the clubs around this plan because it is the clubs who develop football in this county. We have to ask the clubs what they want and need and there has to be leadership. Then decide what is feasible and what is not feasible.
“I think what you need to do is go to the clubs, find what is needed, then let the executive make the decision and bring it to the county board for approval.
“As well as the monthly meetings with the delegates, every quarter the club officers should be brought in. They need to be part of the link to examine the progression of any plan. The way it is working now cannot continue,” he said.
Johnnie O’Malley also said the current impasse with the Mayo GAA International Supporters’ Foundation has ‘spiralled out of control’.
Clubs have not been as central to the decision-making process as they should be, he argues, but adds it all comes down to resources.
“Ultimately, the clubs are in charge and I don’t know if that is the case at the moment but it should be the case.
“People don’t realise the situation in running a club – it is quite difficult. Clubs are all individual entities and there is a huge expense in running a club.
“If you break it down in real terms, a club could be looking at needing €1,600 a week. That’s a lot of fundraising and work. For a lot of clubs it is just about keeping the show on the road.
“You are trying to serve the community as best you can and make sure the coaching of the Under-8s, Under-10s and Under-12s are as well looked after as they can be.
“Clubs are snowed under taking care of their own business. We were told in 2002 that MacHale Park would have no impact on the clubs and we are where we are now. All the money coming out of clubs is a big burden. We have to do our business at county level in such a way so as not to have such a big impact on clubs.”
O’Malley also feels that any plans for a proposed Mayo GAA Centre of Excellence at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar need to be carefully teased out.
It has been suggested that any development would consist of training and preparation facilities for Mayo representative teams across men’s football, ladies’ football and hurling — both underage and adult.
However, the Ardnaree chairman believes that the requirements of clubs should also be considered.
“I believe Lough Lannagh is going to be three pitches and a smaller pitch,” he said. “I’ve heard that Lough Lannagh has been referred to as a vanity project.
“Well if it doesn’t serve the clubs, then where are we going?
“The issue is things have to be managed correctly from the perspective of governance. How governance should work for me is the aspirations go into a plan and the plan comes then from consulting and engaging with the clubs. Did the Lough Lannagh proposal go to the clubs?
“The question has to be asked about Lough Lannagh – is this what the clubs need? There has to be more consultation with the clubs,” he added.

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