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Ready to go: new GAA president outlines priorities

Liam O’Neill has listed refereeing, the promotion of hurling and finance as being among the key issues he seeks to tackle.

O'Neill says the GAA must do more to promote the game.
O'Neill says the GAA must do more to promote the game.

THE INCOMING GAA President Liam O’Neill has listed refereeing, the promotion of hurling, finance, infrastructure and the development of officers as being among his key priorities in his new role.

Speaking at the Heritage Hotel in Killenard, O’Neill told delegates:

“Centring around our games I intend to challenge the organisation to demonstrate that we actually do have the best possible games programme for our children, youths and adults.

“We need to examine much more closely the balance between club activity and school activity. I believe that a much greater part of games activity at this level needs to be coordinated through County and provincial Games development committees. We need to much better connect School activity to club and county activity in order to keep teenagers involved.

“At U21, third level and adult level I will be insisting that we as an organisation more clearly decide where our priorities lie. When we talk of player burn out are we truly and honestly prepared to make decisions on how we can change our structures to accommodate the needs of our players and as a result place those needs much higher up in our list of priorities?”

O’Neill also said he would look to sustain and enhance the efforts being made on fixtures planning:

“It is proper that we all recognise that significant progress has been made on fixtures planning over the last three years. We now, however, have to bring the well thought theory into practise. We have to develop and encourage within our fixture making process the tools and willingness to address those problematical aspects of fixture planning which need attention and together devise a games programme that is balanced and offers everyone the best possible games schedule.

“I firmly believe Congress, that there is quite simply no other topic in respect of our organisation about which our most important component, that is our club players at all levels, demand and expect much overdue improvement.”

He acknowledged recent refereeing problems and vowed to make improvements in this area as well:

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“Refereeing continues to be an area of concern to us all. I will be appointing a New Referee Development Committee. They will be asked to investigate new ways of recruiting and training referees. For instance: should we look to recruit retiring players as referees?”

He added that he would also look to ensure that the organisation’s finances would be managed prudently:

“Finance, in these uncertain economic times, is an area of huge concern not only to the GAA but to every sporting body. I want all of our units to tell us what help they need with finance. Do you need help in budgeting? Do you need help with fundraising ideas and methods? Do you need help in the management of our accounts? If help is needed, help will be provided. Our new Finance committee will act a resource for counties, not just identifying difficulties but also suggesting practical solutions.”

O’Neill takes over from Christy Cooney, who had been in the role since 2008.

Read: GAA Congress 2012: The main motions in pictures>

Read: Next weekend’s GAA fixtures details announced>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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