Changing times at top of GAA
Sweeping changes are in the offing within the higher administration sector in at least two Ulster counties.
Down chairman Kevin Bell and his Derry counterpart Seamus McCloy will step down on Sunday next and there is also expected to be additional alterations in other posts in both counties.
Bell has decided to vacate the top office in order to focus on his drive to become Down’s Central Council delegate while McCloy will step aside having completed his maximum five-year term under current Croke Park rules.
McCloy is understood to be still pondering whether or not to challenge for the position of Ulster Council Chairman for which Aoghan Farrell, currently the vice-chairman, is favourite to succeed present incumbent Tom Daly.
When the Derry Convention takes place at Owenbeg next Sunday, it is expected that the current chairman of Club Derry John Keenan and the chairman of the county’s Central Competitions Control Committee Anthony McSwiggan will be in the frame to replace McCloy.
Keenan has made a huge impact in his current role, his fund-raising nous and organisational skills certain to see him gain favour with delegates but McSwiggan too has an impressive track record in the Oak Leaf administrative sphere and can be expected to garner generous support.
Down delegates will hold their Convention at the Liatroim Fontenoys club headquarters and with Bell stepping out of the chair, current vice-chairman Seamus Walsh and Cultural Officer John (Jack) Devaney are thought to be the frontrunners to succeed him.
Walsh has had a lengthy involvement with Down while Devaney, a native of Longford, is a former chairman of the influential Croke Park Higher Education Council and has made a big impression since his entry into the Down corridors of power.
Brian McAvoy, who has considerable experience at administrative level in Down, could mount a major challenge to become Central Council delegate while former PRO Fintan Mussen and present PRO Diarmuid Cahill, who will vacate this post at Convention, will bid to secure roles as Ulster Council delegates.
Tyrone is another county which will have a new chairman as Pat Darcy will step down after five years with Strabane man Ciaran McLaughlin, current chairman of the Central Competitions Control Committee, looking certain to succeed him.
Darcy has seen Tyrone win all Ireland titles in 2005 and 2008 as well as winning an All Ireland Minor title last year. He slips out of the hot seat leaving Tyrone GAA in its healthiest state for decades.
“A lot of people are continuing to do excellent work within our county and deserve all the plaudits,” says Darcy.
The Armagh Convention will be held in the City Hotel on Monday, December 14 when the county board will review a year in which the Ulster and All Ireland Minor football titles were won and in which a new manager, Paddy O’Rourke, was appointed to succeed Peter McDonnell at senior level.
“Obviously there is lots to celebrate but we must now focus on 2010. There are massive challenges ahead,” says PRO Joe Jordan.