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Donnelly holds off competition to remain Antrim GAA chairman


Bright future: Neil McManus
Bright future: Neil McManus
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

As expected, Collie Donnelly has been retained as Antrim county board chairman following the Saffrons' annual convention last night at the Dunsilly Hotel.

St John's clubman Donnelly originally came in as part of a 'Saffron Vision' group that sought election en masse two years ago, and gained five of the seven executive county board positions.

During his time he has presided over a significant improvement on Antrim finances, cleared a great deal of historic debt and was a crucial component of the establishment of the Saffron Business Forum and other fundraising initiatives.

However, he had come in for competition from Dunloy's Jim McLean, who outlined his agenda last week when he said: "I'm standing on request from a few clubs, they aren't happy with the way things are going, the way they are being treated.

"I intend to return the focus to fixtures and games to restore faith back into the clubs.

"There were meetings taking place outside Coiste Bainistí to make decisions without consultation with others.

"Volunteer officers weren't given information and were dictated to what was going to happen. They're elected to do a job, they should be given the information to do it."

However, support for Donnelly was widespread, with high-profile players in recent weeks declaring their contentment with how the games were run in the county.

Former hurling captain Neil McManus said: "The new county board has been in place for two years now and they're remarkably easy to work with. I would even go as far as to say I'm proud of them.

"The people in the positions at the minute are successful people in their own field, and the amount of work that's going on behind the scenes means that it's going to be an absolute joy for the next generation.

"I can honestly say Antrim hurlers want for nothing."

In 2016, Antrim players were caught in a row over kit and gear not being provided, along with a reduced mileage.

Joe Edwards was confirmed as delegate to the Ulster Council in the only notable development of the evening, while Terry Reilly was returned as vice-chairman, Sean Kelly remained as PRO and new football manager Lenny Harbinson delivered a talk about his management team and his plans for the year ahead.

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