CASTING THEIR VOTES Ballintubber GAA club chairman Pat Barrett and the club's County Board delegate Noelle Horan are pictured with Chris McGowan of the West Mayo Board at last Sunday’s County Convention in the Connacht GAA COE. Pic: John Corless
WHAT a difference two years makes.
Back in December 2019, a few months before Covid hit, Liam Moffatt was elected chairperson of Mayo GAA and Seamus Tuohy was the beaten candidate.
As both men left the Broadhaven Bay Hotel in Belmullet that evening, neither had any idea what the future held for them. They passed each other like ships in the night.
Fast forward to last Sunday evening, and Seamus Tuohy returned to win the election to succeed Moffatt and, in the process, became the first Breaffy GAA clubman since Noel Forde in the mid-90s to hold the highest office in Mayo GAA.
Liam Moffatt has stepped down, Seamus Tuohy has stepped up, and this time it’s Con Moynihan who finishes in the runner-up position.
The wheel has turned full circle.
That was one of many things we mused over as we pondered the meaning of life at our first County Convention in the biggest indoor sports dome in the world last weekend.
Were it not for Covid we’d have been sitting back and making ourselves comfortable in the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, the original venue for this year’s Convention.
But instead we headed to the state-of-the-art surrounds of ‘The Bubble in Bekan’ and filed into the futuristic Connacht GAA arena to watch the local politics of Mayo GAA play out for two hours.
We’d spent a few hours earlier in the day in Ballina watching Knockmore play Tourlestrane in the Connacht club championship so we were keen to compare and contrast each of the events in terms of entertainment, excitement and drama.
Truth be told, both affairs only had us on the edge of our seats for a matter of minutes.
If you’re a fan of Star Trek, or movies about the last people on earth being shipped off to outer space in a giant craft before a meteor hits the planet [you can insert your own joke here], then you’ll have a fair idea of how the 163 delegates and officers of the County Board, and us members of the media, looked inside the The Dome.
“It’s nice to see ye were allowed in this time anyway,” smiled one wag as he walked past.
He’s obviously a loyal reader of The Mayo News.
We sat in our designated seats, adjusted our ears to the white noise and constant hum of the fans that help to keep The Dome inflated, and then settled in to watch the drama unfold.
In all honesty, the drama was confined almost totally to the election of the new Mayo GAA Board chairperson. The rest of the evening passed off peacefully and without incident.
Unfortunately. What we would have given for a bit of cut and thrust.
Unlike plenty of previous Conventions we were lucky enough to attend, there were no scuds fired, no hard-hitting comments, no loaded questions from the floor, no verbal jousting among the delegates or at the top table. Not even a shot across the bows.
No, for one reason or another, last Sunday’s get-together just never got going in that regard. There was certainly an understandable tension in the air until the result of the chairperson vote was announced.
But after that the meeting just meandered along to its conclusion.
Maybe it was the unfamiliar surroundings or the way that masks and social distancing has impacted on how people are engaging with each other.
Or maybe the club delegates just didn’t have a whole lot to say.
Whatever the reasons, only one question was asked about the Mayo GAA accounts for the year (despite a €600,000 surplus being announced and €7.9m still owing on MacHale Park), while nobody asked any follow-up questions about the secretary’s report (which had covered a lot of headline-grabbing topics and didn’t pull too many punches).
We thought surely somebody would have agreed (or disagreed) with Dermot Butler’s comments about the Dubs, the social media abuse of Mayo footballers/County Board officers/James Horan.
Or maybe somebody would have a question about football or hurling?
But, alas, no.
The motions brought forward by Tourmakeady and Ardnaree did lead to a few queries from the floor alright, but nothing out of the ordinary.
So the curtain came down on the Convention almost exactly two hours after it had started, with a new man at the helm and Liam Moffatt’s reign officially over after two years.
During the course of his lengthy, final chairman’s address, Moffatt quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘The Man In The Arena’, referring specifically to the line, ‘It is not the critic who counts...’.
He has taken more than his fair share of criticism over the last two years, but walks away to spend more time with his family, and focus on his business and his health, having spared no effort to leave Mayo GAA in a better place.
Seamus Tuohy will now get his opportunity to put his own stamp on things and it was obvious from his acceptance speech last Sunday evening that it was a proud day for him, his family and his club, Breaffy. We wish him well.