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Twenty-five clubs for grant aid?

County Board Meeting Round-up with Sports Editor Seamus Hayes

TWENTY-five Clare clubs have “crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is” and are eligible for grant aid from the €250,000 fund made available to Clare as a result of the renting of Croke Park for soccer and rugby internationals.
County board vice-chairman Johnnie Hill, who is the chairman of a sub-committee dealing with the applications for assistance from this fund, addressed this week’s board meeting
Clare GAA decided over a year ago that 10 clubs would benefit to the tune of €25,000 each but following a discussion at this week’s meeting, the majority view was to go along with a suggestion from Hill and his committee that 25 clubs would each get €10,000.
“The closing date to have the work done was December 31 and we have now completed our inspections,” Hill told the delegates.
He added that they were taken aback by the level of development that has taken place. “I suppose it’s easy for a club secretary to put a grandiose plan on an application form but when we went out, we found that the projects, as outlined on the application forms, were in situe. The facilities in Clare and in our clubs are greatly enhanced by this scheme. There are clubs with floodlights, sand-based pitches, all-weather pitches, new spectator stands, clubhouses and dressing rooms. It’s great development and a great boost to the association in Clare,” the Lissycasey man said.
“All these facilities have been put in place by the volunteers, the grassroots of the association and there is great credit due to the clubs. Where we can go from here is a bit of a hot potato,” he acknowledged.
“It would be my wish and that of my three-man committee that, based on what we have seen on the ground, as many clubs as possible would benefit from the pool of a quarter of a million. We have toyed around with various options and we all know that there was a decision made at a county board meeting about 18 months ago that Clare would opt for distributing this fund amongst the clubs. We have the option at this stage to go to Croke Park and request a change to enable the board to distribute the quarter of a million differently, thereby enabling more clubs to benefit,” according to Hill.
Tubber’s Michael Lee told the meeting, “We, in Tubber, believe we ticked all the boxes and it would be great to get €25,000. It would also be great to get €10,000,” he said, before recommending that the board go back to Croke Park.
Parteen’s PJ O’Doherty asked Johnnie Hill what number of clubs “ticked all the boxes”, and Hill replied that there were 25. Later, he explained that while there were over 30 applications, 25 was the number of clubs that had completed their projects by the specified date.
Kilmaley’s Vincent Hennessy favoured the view that grants of €25,000 should be distributed, while Tulla’s Gerry Lynch was strong in the view that at least some clubs should get €25,000. “We have been providing a facility for Clare hurling since 1941 and we believe we should be getting the maximum,” he said.
Sixmilebridge’s PJ Fitzpatrick said that there should be some sort of pro-rata system.
Smith O’Brien’s delegate Tony O’Brien proposed that representatives of the clubs in contention should come together with the board executive to discuss the matter and this view was supported by St Joseph’s delegate Joe McNamara.
Bodyke’s Seán O’Halloran told the meeting that €10,000 is a lot of money to a small club and this view was supported by Eugene Moloney from Broadford and Johnnie Nealon from Lissycasey.
A proposal from Tulla’s Gerry Lynch that four clubs get €25,000 and that the rest be divided between the other clubs was heavily defeated.
The meeting agreed that representatives of the 25 clubs will meet with the board executive next week and, in the meantime, Clare officials are to ask Croke Park for permission to distribute the money between the 25 clubs.


Two-month gap in senior football fixtures

ACCORDING to a masters fixtures plan presented to delegates at the February meeting of Clare GAA this week, the senior football championship will commence on the weekend of June 12 and 13 and there will then be a two-month gap to round two, which is set for August 7 and 8.
The first rounds of the senior hurling championship will be played over the weekends of May 8 and 9 and May 15 and 16. Clubs with players who will be involved with the Clare football side in the Munster Championship on May 23, will play their first round hurling game on May 8 and 9.
These are just two of the proposals contained in a fixtures plan for 2010, which was presented to club delegates at this week’s meeting. Clubs have been asked to discuss the proposals before returning to a special board meeting next Tuesday, when a final decision will be made on the 2010 schedule.
Presenting the document, Colm Browne (Kilrush) one of the six-man group that drew up the plan, explained some of the difficulties that the committee faced.
“Clare have National Football League games every weekend in March and also on the first weekend in April and all of these games are on Sundays so we could schedule club games in these weeks, which is why there is a five-week break.”
The Kilrush official also explained that the reason for the two-month gap between the first and second-round games in the senior football championship was because of inter-county fixtures. “From our research, clubs want the crucial rounds, two and three, in close proximity, while in hurling they want rounds three, four and five close together.”
Tulla’s Declan Hogan, another member of the committee that drew up this plan, presented some facts and figures to the meeting.
“Counting the play-off stages, there are 19 rounds in club hurling and 17 in club football, which is a total of 36. With November, December and January, as well as half of February out, this leaves 36 weeks for 36 rounds. At inter-county level, there are a possible 19 rounds and this does not include U-21 hurling and football.”
Cooraclare’s Joe Garry, who was also part of the group that put the plan together, informed the meeting that the committee had met with both county senior managers and they were happy with what is proposed. “If any of the county teams get to All-Ireland semi-final stage, then the schedule will have to be looked at again,” he said.
The meeting was also told that the U-21 club hurling championship will begin in March but not before the weekend of 13 and 14. Results involving the county U-21 football team will have to be taken into consideration. The aim is to have the domestic U-21 championships concluded by the weekend of April 24.
With regard to the U-21 club football championship, it is proposed to commence the competition in late June, similar to last year.
The top divisions in the football leagues will begin on February 20 and 21, while the Clare Champion Cup in hurling will begin on March 27 and 28.


Players’ insurance

A new system will be in place with regard to players insurance for 2010.  Development officer John Fawl told the February board meeting on Tuesday night that clubs “must now go on line and register and pay directly to Croke Park”.
“The county board executive will no longer have any part to play. Clubs will deal directly with Croke Park,” Pat Fitzgerald added before informing the meeting that there will be no increase in the charges this year “but there will be some changes with regard to benefits”.


Forde joins Crusheen

David Forde, a member of the Clare All-Ireland winning hurling team in 1997, has joined Crusheen. A native of Ogonnelloe, his request for a transfer was granted at this week’s board meeting. In a letter to the board, David outlined that he now resides in Crusheen parish.

Minor football management

Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s Michael Considine was unanimously ratified as the county minor football manager for 2010. He has named Joe Hurley and Dara Blake as members of his backroom team and told this week’s meeting that there is another to be appointed.
Proposing his appointment Miltown’s Noel Walsh was critical of the board for not having this post filled back in July or August. Supporting his appointment, Cooraclare’s Joe Garry said he had raised the matter of this appointment in October.
Chairman Michael O’Neill said he agreed the post should have been filled sooner.


Majority of clubs not properly registered

The majority of GAA clubs in Clare were not properly registered last year. This emerged at the February board meeting during a discussion on a new system being introduced by Croke Park with regard to the registration of club members.
The board’s IT officer, John O’Sullivan, explained that some clubs had already attended a course at Limerick IT dealing with the new system, while the remaining clubs will attend a similar course at St Flannan’s College on February 11.
“The amount of clubs that haven’t their members registered is frightening,” according to secretary Pat Fitzgerald.
The secretary asked if the clubs realised “the consequences for their officers should things go wrong?” He also said out that “most clubs haven’t had members registered for a number of years”.
“There is an opportunity there now to correct all of this,” said O’Sullivan. “Once clubs register their members on-line, they are there and will only need to be adjusted.”
Secretary Fitzgerald said, “on the one hand clubs have been collecting far more than €2 for membership and not registering people, while on the other side there are some players who will not pay and clubs have been paying the fees for them and this is also leaving the clubs open”.
According to Sixmilebridge club chairman PJ Fitzpatrick “the wrong message is going out here that clubs are using membership as a way of collecting funds. This is not the case. Paying membership is an opportunity for players to contribute a certain amount towards registration, affiliation and insurance,” he said.
Doonbeg’s Michael Neenan reminded the members that “Pat Fitzgerald has been warning clubs about this for the last three or four years. Why are fellas allowed to play if they are not registered?” he asked.
Kilkee secretary John Lynch told the meeting “We will be having a players meeting this Friday and they will be told quite clearly that no one will be allowed to play until the pay their membership and are registered. I will not sign any list unless all are properly registered.”
Scariff secretary Jim Collins informed delegates that, “in the new system, you cannot play if your name is not in the system. A list will be printed from the system and this is what will be given to the referee in future”.
Chairman Michael O’Neill stressed that “players must be registered three days before they play a game”.


Club Forum

Clare GAA is presently preparing a strategic plan for 2010 to 2015, the County’s Games development manager Sean Chaplin told Tuesday’s county board meeting.
Addressing the delegates, Chaplin said that “back in 2008 Croke Park launched a plan for 2010 to 2015 and last October Munster Council followed with their plan. Every county must have one and with this in mind we are hosting a club forum on February 16 ayt 7.30p.m. in the West County hotel. This will be attended by two people from Croke Park and we are asking each club to have five delegates present”, Chaplin said before recommending that the clubs send in one from their executive, one from adult management, one player, one from underage management and the club’s county board delegate.


Lissycasey back in Division 2

Despite having been relegated to division 3 of the league at the end of last season, Lissycasey are back in division 2 (Garry cup) for 2010.
A written request from the club to this week’s board meeting pointed out that there were just seven teams in the group and hence their application.
Miltown’s Noel Walsh wanted to know why there were now nine teams in division 1 leaving seven in division 2 and he suggested that “the other club” should be relegated after Liscannor had won an appeal to stay in the top division. County secretary Pat Fitzgerald pointed out that when Liscannor won their appeal it was the County board that had lost.
Kilrush delegate Colm Browne told the meeting that the other club relegated from division 1 last year was his club before saying that “we would be happy to facilitate the board and go back to division 1 to ensure an even number of teams”.
Lissycasey chairman Johnnie Nealon told the meeting that “we are not causing the problem. There are only seven teams in division 2 and we are applying to be included there”,
Lissycasey’s request was supported by Michael Curtin from O’Currys and Joe Kelly Wolfe Tones.
John Hehir from St. Breckans opposed the request saying that “it is a dangerous precedent and you are creating a domino effect.
Board vice chairman Johnnie Hill told the meeting that “there is agreement that the ideal number in a division is eight and Lissycasey are offering us a solution here.
On a vote taken by a show of hands the Lissycasey application was approved by 18 votes to 12.
The meeting was told by secretary Pat Fitzgerald that “for this year only, three teams will be relegated from division 1 with two promoted from division 2 and there will be three relegated from division 2 with two promoted from division 3”.
The meeting also agreed to increase the number of teams in division 5 from six to eight. Smith O’Briens, last year’s junior B championship winners, have indicated that they will compete in the league this year and they will join this division while a proposal was put to the meeting that Meelick who were relegated last year, be allowed stay in this group.


New team from O’Callaghan’s Mills

O’Callaghan’s Mills will have three adult teams in 2010. In a letter to Clare GAA’s February meeting, they successfully applied for “special permission” to have ten players re-graded from junior A to junior B for 2010. In their letter, the club accepted that this is “a once off request” before pointing out that they would not be able to go ahead with their plans to have a junior B team unless this was granted. They had thirty seven players in their junior A panel last year and only ten of these are currently eligible for Junior B.
“We are taking a gamble”, according to delegate Jackie McHugh, “but we feel that we have the numbers to justify this decision”.
County secretary Pat Fitzgerald told the meeting that there were two similar ‘exceptions’ in recent times. One was when Inagh and Kilnamona amalgamated to form one club and the other was a request from Feakle who had won the junior B title and many of that squad had retired
Joe McNamara from St Joseph’s supported the request saying that “it’s an opportunity for a club to expand”. The request was granted.

Junior B hurling league

The Junior B Hurling League will be in three divisions in 2010, Tuesday’s board meeting agred. Presently, 23 teams have entered the competition and these will be divided into two groups of eight and one of seven.

Transfer request deferred

A request from Brian Curtin to transfer from Ennistymon to Moy has been deferred for a month. In a letter to Tuesday’s meeting Curtin explained that he played at junior level for Ennistymon in recent years but now lives in Moy.
Ennistymon delegate Noel Crowe asked that the decision be delayed for a month as “this hasn’t come before our own club”.

‘Isolated’ players

The February meeting of Clare GAA gave permission to a number of players under the ‘isolated player’ rule. Clondegad’s James and Brian Murphy and Diarmuid Cahill will assist Ballyea; Thomas Downes from Cooraclare will assist Éire Óg in hurling; Caimin Barrett from Sixmilebridge will play intermediate football with O’Callaghans mills; Declan Clancy, Enda Finnucane and Eibhear Slattery from Lissycasey will hurl with Kilmaley; Pat Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) and Jack Fitzgerald (Kilkee) will also hurl with Kilmaley; Neil and Colin Ryan from Newmarket will play football with Cratloe while Shane O’Brien from Newmarket will play football with Doonbeg.

Committees appointed

The February board meeting unanimously appointed the audit committee and the competitions control committee for 2010. The audit committee will comprise Michael Curtin (chairman), Noel Crowe, Ger Hoey, John Brett and treasurer Bernard Keane while the CCC will be made up of Michael O’Neill (chairman), Pat Fitzgerald (secretary) PJ McMahon, Michael Maher, Seamus Hayes and referees representative, Michael O’Regan.

A bye for Kilmurry-Ibrickane

The opening round of the Cusack Cup is set for the weekend of February 20/21 and the February meeting of the county board agreed on Tuesday night that Kilmurry-Ibrickane will have the bye in this round due to their involvement in the All-Ireland club championship semi-final on that Sunday.

On the move

David and Sean Foley have transferred from Shannon Gaels to Kilmihil. David O’Brien has moved from Killimer to Kilrush. Roy Kennedy has moved from Sixmilebridge to Cratloe.


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