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GAA rule signals departure of long-serving officials

All change in all divisions

Croke Park rule signals departure of long-serving GAA officials

Mike Finnerty

SOME of the most experienced GAA administrators in the country will be stepping down from their positions over the coming weeks as Croke Park’s ‘five-year rule’ comes into effect in Mayo.
Under the GAA directive, which came into effect at the start of the 2005 season, no club official is allowed to hold any one position for longer than five years.
This means that there will be sweeping changes in each of the four Mayo GAA divisional boards as all the chairmen and secretaries must stand down from their positions at their Annual Conventions.
Vincent Neary (North), Ger McHugh (South), Vincent Walsh (East) and Sean McEvilly (West) have almost 100 years of experience as divisional secretaries behind them, and all four will be replaced.
Divisional chairmen, Sean McHale (North), Mattie Joe Connolly (South), Kieran Byrne (East) and Ollie Dillon (West) have also reached the end of their terms.
These changes will mean that the Mayo GAA executive will have a very fresh look to it next year.

ONE of the busiest GAA men in the county, Vincent Neary, will be leaving the top table of the North Mayo GAA Board at their annual convention after 20 years in the position.
The Convention up north takes place on Tuesday, December 14 in Belmullet, a week after the County Convention, due to the unavailability of the outgoing chairman, Sean MacÉil (Knockmore).
The deadline for nominations to be received for the two vacant positions is December 1.
“It needs change at this stage,” admitted Vincent Neary last week. “But I loved every minute of it and I’ll miss it greatly but things need to be freshened up.
“In the last 20 years the divisional boards have seen their influence diluted. In my early years the big thing was the North Junior championships. You had all 16 teams going hell-for-leather and one winner going on to represent the division in the county semi-final. Now the competition is slotted in wherever we can fit it.”
There has been no shortage of highlights either for the well-known referee, who is also the Mayo GAA Bórd na nÓg secretary and County Board assistant secretary.
“The number of county junior champions we had from the north like Belmullet, Killala a few times, and Crossmolina were great highlights,” he said. “And seeing Crossmolina and Ballina win the All-Ireland club titles. The development work done by clubs like Belmullet, Kilfian and Ballycastle was great to see too.”
He also had a word of advice for the next secretary. “The main thing is to enjoy it, put your own mark on it from the start, and don’t be afraid to tackle a bit of change.”

CARRAMORE’S Ger McHugh is stepping down as South Mayo GAA Board secretary after 22 years. However, he is the only nominee for the vacant position of chairman and is expected to be ratified in his new post at the convention on Tuesday, November 30 at 8pm in Glencorrib Community Centre.
Shrule/Glencorrib’s Peter Walsh is the only nominee for secretary while it remains to be seen who will succeed TJ Kelly (Hollymount) as treasurer and Billy Horan (Ballinrobe) as PRO.
“I think the arrival of texting has to be one of my highlights as secretary,“ Ger McHugh told The Mayo News last week. “When you were posting letters you had to get them out maybe a week in advance of a meeting. Now, you can wait until you have all the Sunday results in, all the fixtures in front of you, and then bang out a text for a meeting a few days later.
“I learned a lot about the allocation of tickets around the All-Ireland final of 1989 too,” he laughed. “I never made the same mistakes again, especially when it came to my own club!”

TWENTY years after taking on the role of West Mayo GAA Board secretary, Sean McEvilly from Louisburgh will stand down at the West convention on Wednesday, December 1 in the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport.
The Mayo News understands that Cathy Carney (Islandeady) is set to take his place with Michael Moran (Parke) in line to take over from Ollie Dillon (Ballintubber) as chairman. Louisburgh’s John Gibbons will be the new treasurer.
“I’ll miss it,” admitted Sean McEvilly last week. “It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed and the clubs in West Mayo have been extremely good to me over the years. I’m leaving with absolutely no regrets.
“I’ve seen a lot of West Mayo clubs win county titles and this year it was great to see so many West Mayo clubs contest county finals at all grades, from underage up. It shows that something is being done right on the ground. There is great work being done in West Mayo clubs at underage level too and that is starting to manifest itself now.
“I think I’ll go back to enjoying and watching some club games. I’ll be able to answer the mobile now too without worrying about a call from somebody asking where the referee is?”

DIVISIONAL Boards meetings in East Mayo just won’t be the same anymore with long-serving secretary, Vincent Walsh, stepping down next month after 33 years in the position.
The Swinford clubman has done a remarkable job and is now set to throw his hat in the ring for divisional chairman. However, his time as secretary will officially end at the East Convention on December 2 in Swinford.
The local grapevine also suggests that outgoing chairman Kieran Byrne (Eastern Gaels) will be in the frame for secretary while outgoing PRO Michael Daly (Ballyhaunis) is expected to take over as treasurer from Michael McHugh (Eastern Gaels).
The deadline for nominations is Friday, November 26.