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Social side of GAA hit by Covid

Sport

Oisín McGovern

KILMEENA GAA club president Martin McIntyre feels that the social aspect of the GAA has been sorely missed by clubs and communities during the Covid-19 shutdown of the last four months.
“One of the things Covid-19 has done is that it has highlighted the fact that ‘you don’t miss the water until the well runs dry’” he told The Mayo News.
“People like meeting each other. We like being in contact with each other. You don’t miss the banter and the slagging until it’s gone.
“The lads themselves and the boys and girls are chomping at the bit to get out onto the field,” he said. “I was down there one morning shortly after the lockdown was lifted, and just to hear the lads talking about getting back out onto the pitch, it was reminiscent of our own days playing football.
“The only thing I’m afraid of is the complacency that’s bound to set in,” he cautioned.
“We’ve the gate open but it could be closed next week.”
Like all GAA clubs across the country, finance has also been a ‘hot topic’ during conversations among Kilmeena officials over the last few months.
“Like a lot of clubs we depended on the lotto, since the Covid came in it has had a serious restriction on the sale of tickets,” explained Martin McIntyre. “In the last three weeks we’ve gone online for lotto tickets.
“So far, we’ve had some success but it’s taking a while to establish it... I’d say we’re in a good place from a number of points of view. There was a big effort put in the past, the
former chairman had a great regime for undertaking those structures and putting them in place. And we’ve a very good treasurer in Padraic Moore.
“The amount of money it costs to run a club is phenomenal. You’re looking at a serious amount of money that is being foisted on clubs compared to 20 or 30 years ago, so there’s a lot of responsibility and accountability and transparency associated with that.
“That’s one thing I’d say about any club, they’re now being run as small businesses.”
Keeping a GAA club ticking over during lockdown, and planning for an uncertain future is easier said than done for the likes of club chairman John McDonnell, treasurer Padraic Moore and all the others on the top table.  
Martin McIntyre feels that the days of ‘hoping for the best’ as a club executive are over.
“I think the day has long gone that you go into a club meeting  and propose someone for treasurer or secretary,” he said. “You can no longer expect anyone in any administration in any club to take on the responsibilities that are now required by Croke Park.
“There’s a whole list of things. It’s impossible to ask anyone to do that on their own. That
all has to be delegated to smaller sections. I think it inhibits people from taking a bigger role. “That role has to be very clearly defined so people don’t feel overwhelmed by what they have to do. You could be losing very good committed people. That re-structuring has to take place in all clubs, because otherwise clubs will struggle.
“The secretarial duties of any club are massive. Years ago when people turned up to a meeting it was a social occasion, but now there’s so much going on.”

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