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Kevin Madden urges county clubs to take a punt on the Gaels

By Declan Bogue

Published 30/10/2015

Action man: Kevin Madden
Action man: Kevin Madden

Former Antrim captain Kevin Madden has urged the clubs in the county to "show a bit of courage" and back the group of Antrim Gaels who are seeking election to the county board en masse at this year's county Convention on December 7.

The 'Saffron Vision' group, as they have been dubbed, are seeking to put eight figures into high-profile roles of administration in the Antrim county board, and are believed to have significant financial backing for their plans, should they succeed.

Madden, the Portglenone clubman who has previously ran for the job of senior manager along with Gearoid Adams, is an enthusiastic backer of the group.

"The clubs need to show a bit of courage now," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The voices and the vibes I have been hearing for years now is that the thing has gone stale, the vision is not there, the leadership has been poor. Now is the chance for the clubs to say.

"It's not a risk, because where we are at the minute is not a good place and I would rather take a punt on something I didn't know than continue with the status quo, which isn't getting us anywhere."

While county boards are evolving to resemble modern-day business structures, Madden believes the potential of Antrim is being left untapped by a refusal to modernise.

Colin Donnelly, from the St John's club, is believed to be lined up for the chairman's role, but will have to battle it out with the current vice-chair, Joe Edwards.

In the short-term, the group will be proposing their names at next Monday's monthly board meeting - to be seconded by the clubs - in order to be eligible for Convention.

"We are so far off it, it's unbelievable," Madden continued.

"If you look right through it; the records of the colleges, to the way the development squads are organised, to the investment in teams right across the board, to facilities, to the mess that has been made of Dunsilly, to the Casement Park debacle…

"Antrim, for too long have been getting it too wrong. I think it's time for change and I think if there are people with a business background who can bring investment and bring a new level of professionalism, and a breath of fresh air, I think the clubs need to back them. We need to try something different."

He believes that the real beneficiaries will be the next generation when he states: "If you look at the way the Development Squads are run in Antrim, how kids are treated in other counties. Already, you are giving young people a bad experience of what it is like to play county football at a young age. All that needs to change in Antrim.

"How do you compete with the Dublins and Kerrys, and even in Ulster the Tyrones and Monaghan's of this world if you are not investing?"

"Antrim will be looking at Fermanagh and thinking, 'we have bigger resources, a bigger playing population, more clubs' and we should really be targeting what they have done and thinking it is something we can achieve.

Belfast Telegraph

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