It can be a rare occurrence in the GAA where there is total agreement in a boardroom setting, but this week’s Clare Ladies Football annual Convention was one of them.
Tributes flowed on an emotional evening as former chairman and stalwart Kieran Harvey was remembered and honoured by all those present following his untimely passing last month, while his presence still evident with a smiling photo of the Querrin native watching over proceedings from the big screen behind the top table.
Munster LGFA President and Cork native Jerome Casey sat in the chairman’s seat for the first half of the meeting, and recalled his memories of Kieran whom he described a great friend and hard-working person. He spent time working with Kieran on the appeals committee at Munster Council level and praised the dedication he showed to the cause. Secretary Monica Callinan hailed Kieran’s ability to always find the middle ground, even where there was none. She said in her report to delegates that “we were so privileged to have had Kieran as our chairman and friend, and he made all our jobs that little bit easier and a little more enjoyable”.
All speakers on the night remembered Kieran and spoke of his passion and knowledge of ladies football along with his deep love and pride for his family. His West Clare Gaels club-mate Deirdre Kenny-Downes also addressed the meeting and outlined some of her memories of Kieran, including the pride he felt in being involved in the All-Ireland Minor B win, and particularly his daughter Caoimhe finding the net for the critical goal.
The meeting saw a new chairman elected as Cooraclare’s David O’Brien was chosen for the role. He previously served as vice-chairman to Kieran Harvey along with other positions on the county executive. He says while it is a great honour to take up the mantle of chairman, it is not a position he expected to have so soon.
“Kieran was a great supporter and friend of mine and I always admired him. To follow in his footsteps is great but it obviously came around too soon. All we can do is try to move forward for the year and try to do our best to honour the work that Kieran has done. I was vice-chair for the last two years so while being on the board is nothing new to me, it is certainly a bigger role than I would have previously held but I will give it my best. My own daughter starting playing when she was younger with Cooraclare so I started getting involved from there. I have three daughters playing with the club now so that is my connection to ladies football. I have seen it from most sides I guess in terms of being a parent, coach and member of the executive so I have been lucky to have that progression. I always had great people around me like Joe Downes in Cooraclare and then Kieran Harvey, Bernie O’Regan and Trudy Davenport at county level so all of those people really helped me to learn along the way” he noted.
With the 2020 season getting underway in the coming weeks with the opening round of the National League, O’Brien is confident that Clare Ladies football is on a positive footing to aim for success.
“We are in a good place and we have our structures right. We are trying to move with the times and that is not easy because that costs money too. We are in a good position financially but we need to keep pushing forward and keep everyone on the same wavelength and work on keeping people involved. We have 22 clubs in the county and numbers are holding steady in the main. I know rural clubs struggle with numbers at times but that comes in peaks and troughs and the main thing is to keep girls playing football. In terms of my own targets for the year, I just want to do the best I can and bring as much energy I can to the role and do the best we can for Clare Ladies Football and try to make more progress” he concluded.