When delegates of Clare’s GAA clubs gather for the 2020 Convention on December 15, it will be like never before.
The night of Convention for Clare GAA is normally one that marks another step closer to Christmas with the mixture of decorations and the social gathering creating that atmosphere of another year drawing to a close.
This time, the decorations will still be there but they will be in the homes of those who dial in to join the Microsoft Teams meeting for what will be a unique and hopefully never to be repeated experience.
The setting this year might be different but it should not detract from the job of work at hand. The reality is that while 2020 was a strange and challenging year for all concerned, there will be no magic reset button on December 31 to make 2021 any better. It will hopefully be the year of the vaccine, but the harsh reality is that the effects of the past 12 months are going to carry over for at least the next 12 too.
It is why the election of a new chairman of Clare GAA could not have come at a more critical juncture. The Association nationally, including in Clare, has faced its most challenging year, and great credit is due to those involved for ensuring that some level of normality was achieved by holding championships to provide some distraction from life outside the four white lines. That being said, the absence of gate receipts and the associated income has hit everyone hard, but Croke Park has come to some sort of rescue by easing the burden on cash strapped county boards.
As it stands, clubs have a choice of four men to lead Clare GAA through the next 12 months so serious consideration needs to be given to the skillset that will be required to do that. It will take someone who can come up new and innovative ways of making the most of what is the ultimate loaves and fishes situation, and someone who is acutely aware of the modern ways of GAA administration.
The immediate challenges are daunting, but moulding a vision for the future at all levels is of even greater importance. It is time for the GAA clubs of Clare to decide what they want that future that to be, and the decision of who will spearhead that lies solely in their hands.
All throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the message of ‘personal responsibility’ in overcoming the virus was preached from on high. It is now time for the clubs of Clare GAA to assume that personal responsibility in shaping the future of Gaelic Games in the county, and the power to do that lies with those who will be casting their votes in the coming days.