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Chaplin Targets Caherlohan, Coaching and Renewed Financial Drive In First Year As Clare GAA Chairman

Derrick Lynch

The new chairman of Clare GAA has outlined his three goals for the coming year with improvements at Caherlohan, progression in coaching structures and addressing the huge financial issues of the board being the main targets.

Cratloe’s Jack Chaplin was unveiled as the successor to Joe Cooney in the chairman’s role at this week’s Annual Convention. He overcame Cooraclare’s PJ McGuane in the race for the position, gaining 116 of the 183 votes cast. McGuane congratulated Chaplin on his victory and outlined that it was the last election that he would be contesting in Clare GAA.

It is the first time Chaplin has been elected to the executive of Clare GAA, but he has served as chairman of Cratloe for 17 years over two terms. He has also represented Cratloe as a county board delegate for a number of years while also serving as part of the master fixtures committee.

The former referee outlined that while a daunting task lies ahead in uncertain times, he is looking forward to taking on the challenge.

“It is a frightening title maybe, but it something that I wanted to go for so I am happy to get it and hopefully things will work out. The club has been asking me for the last few years if I would consider going for it so I decided to throw my hat in the ring this year and thankfully it worked out. It will be a case of learning on my feet and it is obviously a much bigger task than being a chairman at club level. There will be a lot of learning curves in it but I am looking forward to what is in store.

It is an honour to be chosen as chairman and I would like to thank all the clubs who supported me to get here” he noted.

This week’s AGM heard stark warnings sounded by board treasurer Michael Gallagher in relation to the boards finances, as he issued a call for everyone to take on the responsibility of replenishing a well that had now run dry. Chaplin outlined that there is no denying the realities that face Clare GAA at the moment, and added to the treasurers sentiment for the burden to be shared.

“The issues that we are facing are fairly well thrashed out and we heard all about them again at Convention too. The biggest issue we are facing at the moment is in relation to finances, there is no doubt about that. We need to work on getting Caherlohan finished so getting that up and running to the level it should be is a major ambition of mine and I will be working to see that out to a finish. It has to be a collective effort because if the clubs don’t row in behind us then we have no hope really. Coaching is very important and we really need to work on keeping that going and trying to make the improvements. I am obviously only just new into the position so I need to get a handle on how the finances are to keep that work going but it is something that we really need to focus on. The work on getting our financial house in order has to be spread across the executive because it is unrealistic to expect one or two people to carry it. Everyone has to work on it and part of that work will be up to me in building that relationship with the people on the executive and try to get everyone working as best we can” he said.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Chaplin noted that while he was only just getting acclimatised to his new role, he is confident that he can have a positive impact in the coming months.

“Time will tell whether or not I have what it takes to make it a success but I do think that I have the qualities needed. It will be a case of getting people on board that make a difference and I will be working hard to organise that. It is early days yet obviously so I have not spoken to many people yet but the work on that will start from here and we will be looking to do what we can to drive things forward. We have had a really tough year across the board with very little ways of fundraising and all our clubs are struggling to stay going. Hopefully 2021 will see things pick up again and that pressure can ease” he stated.

Chaplin will be joined on the executive by a new vice-chairman after Naomh Eoin clubman and Sixmilebridge resident Kieran Keating won the vote for that role. The former Munster council delegate held off competition from Kilmaley duo Niall Romer and Michael Maher along with O’Callaghan’s Mills clubman Neil O’Brien.

Keating acknowledged that there is a job of work to be done in order to get Clare GAA back up to the top level but is confident that the task is one that can be handled.

“There are plenty people willing to put their shoulder to the wheel so it is a case of trying to harness that energy and using it for the benefit of Clare GAA. Getting the resources in place is one of the biggest challenges and has been a challenge for the last while. It is one of the key ones that we need to address. We need to get the right coaching structures in place across the board and they require resources. We have seen good examples with all our neighbouring counties and they seem that little bit more advanced in terms of what they have put in place as regards the number of coaches and games development officers. All that feeds to the top and they have more coming through to that level. The standard is that little bit higher but at the same time we are not that far off. It won’t happen overnight but we can plan for three to five years time and what we put in place will hopefully start to pay off before too long” he said.

In the other executive vote, Bernard Keane and John Fawl edged out Niall Gilligan for the two available positions as Munster Council delegates. Keane, who previously served as the board treasurer for a number of years, stated that it was a “huge honour and privilage for me to represent my county and it is an even greater honour to be selected by secret ballot and given such a strong mandate to do so”, while also thanking clubs for putting their faith in him for the role.

Elsewhere treasuer Michael Gallagher, PRO Michael O’Connor, assistant secretary Ann Hayes, assistant treasurer Tony Brohan, Irish Officer Flan O’Reilly, Coaching and Games Officer Sean O’Halloran and Central Council delegate Simon Moroney were all returned to their positions unopposed.

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