In the running: The 5 candidates to be the next president of the GAA

The election will take place tomorrow night.

THE FOCUS ALL week has been placed on the passionate debate surrounding the plans for the All-Ireland senior football championship.

But before that is voted on at Saturday’s GAA Congress in Croke Park, there is the matter of deciding on the next president of the GAA tomorrow night.

pjimage Walsh, Horan, Frost, Skelly and Horan - the five GAA Presidential nominees. Source: INPHO

There are five candidates in the running – Longford’s Martin Skelly, Clare’s Robert Frost, Kerry’s Sean Walsh, Galway’s Frank Burke and Dublin’s John Horan.

Here, we take a closer look at the five nominees.

1. Martin Skelly (Longford)

Skelly declared early that he wished to become the next president of the GAA, announcing his intention to run for the position as far back as December 2015.

Skelly was put forward for the position at Longford’s county board convention and was the first confirmed candidate in the race to succeed Aogán Ó Fearghail.

Skelly has since been joined by four other contenders but he’s a strong candidate in his own right. A former Longford county board chairman, Skelly has also served as chairman of the Leinster Council.

At 16 years of age, he became secretary of his own minor club (Newtowncashel) and has served in various administrative roles since then. Skelly also worked alongside Luke Dempsey when the latter was manager of the Longford senior footballers.

Luke Dempsey and Martin Shelly Martin Skelly embraces Luke Dempsey after a Longford championship win in 2007 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. Robert Frost (Clare)

Clare’s presidential nominee is Robert Frost, who was endorsed by Banner County officials last November. Frost was Munster Council chairman from 2013 to 2015 and he also served two terms as chairman of Clare GAA.

In addition, Frost is a former Clare vice-chairman who was secretary of his home club, O’Callaghan’s Mills, at just 17 years of age. Frost served for 10 years in that role in the 1970s before getting involved with the hurling board in Clare.

Robert Frost and Ray Carey Robert Frost presents the McGrath Cup to Cork captain in 2012 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Frost has just completed his last 12 months as ex-officio chairman of the Clare county board. He served on the Munster Council for 12 years – five as Clare delegate, three as vice-chairman and three as chairman.

3. Sean Walsh (Kerry)

This is Sean Walsh’s second crack at becoming GAA president. Walsh, who is the current chairman of the National Referees Development Committee, lost out to Ó Fearghail in the last race but was put forward again by Kerry county board officials.

A former Kingdom county board chairman, Walsh is an experienced and highly-respected official, who was also a former chairman of the Munster Council.

Pat O'Shea celebrates with Sean Walsh Walsh celebrates Kerry's 2007 All-Ireland final win over Cork Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Walsh was elected as Kerry chairman in 1998 and held that position for 10 years. He served for three years as vice-chairman of the Munster Council, before taking over the provincial body’s top job from 2010-2012.

4. Frank Burke (Galway)

Ardrahan native Burke is Galway’s candidate for the GAA presidency. Burke boasts a strong record of service to the GAA at club, county and provincial levels.

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A former secretary and then chairman of the Galway county board, Burke went on to become president of the Connacht Council from 2012-2015.

Frank Burke Source: Mike Shaughnessy

At national level, Burke has been chairman of the National Referees’ Committee, chairman of the Central Review Committee, a National Finance Committee member, chairman of the Hurling Development Committee and he’s currently chairman of the National Coaching and Games Development Committee.

Burke is also credited with sterling fundraising work during the redevelopment of Pearse Stadium in Salthill.

5. John Horan (Dublin)

Horan, the current Leinster Council chairman, is the man Dublin want to become the next GAA president. If successful, Horan would become the first candidate from the capital to assume the prestigious role since 1961.

Horan has completed his three-year term as Leinster chairman and will now hope to take the next step forward in his administrative career.

JohnHoran Leinster Council chairman John Horan

A lifelong member of the Na Fianna club, Horan served the GAA at Post-Primary Schools, coaching and games levels in the past. Horan is the current principal at St Vincent’s Secondary School in Glasnevin, Dublin. A Dubliner hasn’t held the Presidency since Dr JJ Stewart.

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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