Chairman of Clare GAA Jack Chaplin has committed to addressing two contentious topics at the next meeting of clubs in the county.
Following questions by Kilmaley delegate Niall Romer in relation to the details surrounding secretary Pat Fitzgerald’s contract, the chairman promised to “research that” for the next meeting.
Speaking at last week’s meeting, Romer outlined “What people seem to forget is that I’ve represented my county at all levels for a long, long time. I captained Clare to win an All Ireland in the dark days and I have also been a selector and a coach to win an All Ireland so I have an idea of what’s going on, on and off the field. My question goes back to a simple thing that I would like an answer to. It is not personal, I just want an answer once and for all. Can the chairman please let me know, when the county secretary’s contract is due to expire, both the month and the year? Who is funding his salary at present? Has there been compensation for the secretary since his contract was renewed in 2016 for the loss of funding from outside Clare, and the funding I refer to is from Munster Council and the GAA at national level? In other words, is Clare GAA paying over the odds or being denied external financial assistance because of Pat Fitzgerald being over 65? And also, did Clare make any contribution to his salary to increase after 2016? This is nothing personal, this is just something I want answered once and for all. For once and for all, just get it out there and finish with it” he queried.
The chairman replied that Romer should “get your club to write in about that and we will try and answer it for you”, with Romer responding that “I represent my club”.
Chaplin stated that “I can’t answer that question for you, I will have to research that”. Romer asked if it would be researched and addressed at the next meeting, with Chaplin agreeing to that.
At December’s Convention, the details of when the Sixmilebridge clubman’s contract was due to expire was also raised, with the response to a query from former intercounty referee and Eire Óg delegate Rory Hickey being “My first contract was in 2009 and the second one was in 2016. That will answer your question, you are an intelligent guy”.
Last week’s meeting saw Hickey also raising the issue of the speculation surrounding the Clare Hurling Supporters Club which operated during Davy Fitzgerald’s time in charge of the senior hurlers.
In response to whether the chairman had responded to a similar query from Tulla’s Brian Torpey at the March meeting, Jack Chaplin stated that he had not gotten back with an answer. He outlined that the board were “flat out” at the moment, but committed to having an update for the next gathering of clubs.
Clubs in Clare have been warned that audits will be carried out in relation to the adherence to Covid-19 guidelines once action gets back underway later this year.
Corofin delegate and member of last year’s Covid committee Ambrose Heagney outlined his belief that there should be consequences for those who are not following the guidelines laid out for the return to play process.
“Will we have a Covid committee in place and if so, will there be consequences if clubs are not compliant in relation to Covid? I would like to see consequences for clubs who are not compliant. There are a huge amount of clubs who have put huge effort into it and some have not. Under the present circumstances, we need to get this right” he stated.
Eire Óg’s Paddy Smyth outlined his belief that clubs should be informed that the audits are being carried out, which he felt would lead to higher compliance rates.
Vice chair of the board Kieran Keating, who was also on the Covid-19 committee last year, explained that “whatever procedures are laid down by Croke Park, it will be the remit of the Covid committee to make sure that we are compliant in staging games. That will require audits and people should expect that what they are told they have to do, they will be audited on. If there were consequences for breaches of Covid-19 regulations last year, there is not a club in the county that wouldn’t have had implications. There were breaches at every game that I audited. We didn’t do thing as well as we could have done last year, but we probably got away with it” he said.
Representatives of both the underage hurling and football committees in Clare have raised concerns in relation to the process of isolated players at underage grades.
Coiste na nÓg Iomant chairman Neil O’Brien raised the issue at last week’s meeting, outlining that some clubs were taking advantage of a perceived “loop hole” in order to secure players.
“We have processed a large number of players over the last few weeks and we are aware of the by-laws that are in place in relation to it. We know there are historic links between clubs and between adult players going to players going to clubs. I do have a slight concern about the by-law that is there at present. I think it could be that some clubs are cherry picking players from isolated areas below where we are governing games at U-12. They are signing these players up as seven, eight or nine year olds, and creating that historical link. It means for example that someone who wants to play football from O’Callaghan’s Mills, if they have gone to Cratloe in the past but the likes of Tulla wanted to make up a team, that would be their nearest club but they can’t join them because they cannot move as isolated players. There is a loophole in it that needs to be looked at and find some way that we can counteract it” he stated.
A similar concern was shared by Bord na nÓg Peil secretary Ann Hayes, with the Lissycasey woman urging the board to take steps to address the matter.
“We have a major problem with isolated players and I believe we have to do something about it. There are players coming now at U-13 and it is the first time we have seen them. When we ask them why they are going to a certain club and passing other clubs to get there, their answer is ‘I am playing with them since I was U-6’. They are playing up along and not coming in as isolated players so we don’t know about them. It is just a mess, that is what it is. There are up to 85 players going to different clubs. There is one club that have players going to seven different clubs and then you have superclubs who are picking out the players from the various areas and bringing the best of them, It just has to be looked at in the next year or two” she noted.
Clare GAA has been urged to continue with the practice of distributing the list of players for regradings and isolated players via email once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
When the lists of players are presented for ratification in normal circumstances, the names are read out to delegates at a monthly board meeting which can often take a significant portion of the meeting to complete.
Ahead of last week’s April meeting, which was held virtually due to the ongoing restrictions, the list was circulated to clubs for ratification en bloc.
Whitegate delegate David Solan praised the board for adopting that approach and outlined his view that it would make for a more streamlined process to continue with that system.
“We are going in there for years where there were hundreds of names being read out at different meetings, holding it up for ages. I am delighted with this step, and that players who have been playing with clubs for a long period of time don’t have to be ratified by a county board meeting. It is great that they are in a block rather than going through them individually” he stated.
Chairman Jack Chaplin outlined that “they should really be read out but because we have to do Zoom meetings due to the pandemic, we have to do it this way”. He also said that he was not sure if it will continue when the pandemic is over, to which Solan replied “I hope it does”.