Belfast Telegraph

IFA President David Martin vows to build on Euro 2016 glory days

By Stuart McKinley

David Martin has spelt out his determination to keep the good times rolling for Northern Ireland football after he was elected as the new President of the Irish FA.

The feelgood factor has never been higher following the international team’s fantastic achievement in reaching the last 16 of the European Championships in France.

And while the euphoria that was created by Michael O’Neill’s team, in beating Ukraine to make it through to the knockout stages of Euro 2016, is still strong Martin wants to use it as a tool to move the game forward.

After three years as Deputy President Martin was voted into the top job by the IFA Council last night and he will now lead the association for the next four years after Jim Shaw came to the end of his term after serving five years in the post.

With Shaw’s tenure ending, Martin was always going to step straight into the post as he was the only nomination and he was voted in unopposed, but the emotion of the occasion got to him as he broke down at the beginning of his acceptance speech.

He declined to do press interviews, but said in a statement: “I am honoured to have been elected to this role and I look forward to serving the football community across Northern Ireland.

“It has been a remarkable few weeks for the international team in France and my aim will be to help the Association build on that success and to help grow the game at all levels.”

The first IFA AGM to be held at the newly refurbished Windsor Park marks a new dawn for the Association and in terms of trying to develop the game further, Martin couldn’t have come into his new position at a better time.

If the IFA can’t promote football on the back of Euro 2016 they never will and while chief executive Patrick Nelson and his staff will have the day-to-day responsibility for that, Martin will want to play his part.

Martin has been a key member of the Northern Amateur Football League for many years, having served on a number of committees during that time as a representative of Hillsborough-based club Downshire YM.

The former Treasurer of the Association, Martin has had his critics, with even Northern Ireland supporters protesting against his return to office as Deputy President three years ago, having been forced out, along with then President Raymond Kennedy, back in 2010.

The fact that he is now back, this time as President, shows that Martin has supporters too.

Close confidants of Martin are confident that he will be a success as President of the IFA, having effectively been president in waiting since taking the deputy’s post in September 2013.

Time will tell on that score and his reign can be fully judged in four years time, when his term will end.

A change in the Articles of Association a few years ago means that presidents now only serve one four-year term and when Martin leaves his post in 2020 Linfield’s Jack Grundie is expected to take over.

He was promoted from second deputy president to the position of first deputy president last night and the top job is seen as a natural progression for a man who has been a prominent figure at the IFA and one of the main players at Linfield for many years.

County Antrim FA President Crawford Wilson was installed as the second deputy president.

Belfast Telegraph