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Delegates get it all out in the open

Sport

THE GREAT OUTDOORS The monthly meeting of club delegates to the Mayo GAA County Board was held in the stand at MacHale Park, Castlebar last Thursday evening.  Pic: Conor McKeown

Sketch
Mike Finnerty

PICTURE the scene.
The first (ever) meeting of the Mayo GAA Board to be held outside in the stand at MacHale Park in Castlebar is winding to a conclusion.
After months of seeing each other through laptop screens and tablets, asking lads to ‘unmute’ themselves, the delegates had got a chance to look each other in the eye (from behind their masks and at a safe distance) and get some (very) fresh air while they were at it.
The top table seemed energised by the novelty of the experience too; the last time everyone had been in the same place like this for a County Board meeting was February 2020, just before you-know-what arrived.
That particular meeting won’t be forgotten about for a while for a number of reasons.
But back to last Thursday evening.
The 18-item agenda had been concluded in just over an hour and all the main boxes had been ticked. A new name was going over the door of the stadium (Marty Morrissey is going to have his work cut out with ‘Hastings Insurance Brokers MacHale Park’); the new Mayo GAA TV streaming contract had been ratified by the delegates; Con Moynihan had got a few things off his chest about fixtures and clubs conceding games (including a good dig at club managers who might not be training teams for the good of their health); and the date for the first Club Development Draw (the artist formerly known as the County Board draw) had been moved back two weeks after a philosophical debate about trying to sell more tickets around Mayo’s All-Ireland semi-final.
There had been no major drama. The biggest hassle had been moving the speaker (the actual speaker as opposed to somebody trying to talk) on to a chair on top of a table to make sure everyone could hear it clearly, and all seemed as well as could be expected with the delegates, County Board officers, and the few reporters who had gathered to meet and ‘Live with Covid’ while looking out at the MacHale Park pitch.
Then our old friend ‘AOB’ arrived and a man in a baseball cap raised his hand to ask a question. It turned out it was the former Mayo GAA chairman, Mike Connelly, who said he was there ‘in a council capacity’ after ‘receiving calls from a number of councillors in relation to Lough Lannagh’.
He said he wanted to ask what Mayo GAA intended to do about the proposed Training Centre project that was first mooted three years ago during his time as chairman.
But, it transpired, because he wasn’t an elected club delegate or a current officer of the Board, he didn’t have speaking rights so wasn’t in a position to ask questions at the meeting.
The current chairman, Liam Moffatt, informed him of those facts and offered to speak to him ‘one-on-one’ after the meeting, which was brought to a close moments later.
Everyone looked at everyone else and wondered what all that had been about.
And then we all headed home to get in out of the cold.
We thought we’d seen and heard it all when it came to covering Mayo GAA meetings over the last 25 years. It turns out we were wrong.
Sometimes, nothing beats being there.

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