• GAA Belong (Leaderboard)

400 Volunteers set for Conference

November 7th, 2008

club-conf-2008-launch.jpgThe second Ulster GAA Club and Community Development conference will take place on Saturday 15th November in the Europa Hotel. Ulster GAA’s conference partner for the 2008 event is the Irish News. The conference has become the Ulster Council’s flagship non-games event focused at supporting club and community development right across Ulster GAA, which services over 250,000 volunteers working in 580 constituent GAA clubs and 600 constituent educational units across the nine counties of Ulster. This year’s conference is focused on improving the capacity of clubs and volunteers across the province as the theme of this year’s conference “Strengthening community cohesion though the development of the GAA clubs and volunteers” highlights.

The event is the second of its kind following the outstanding success of the 2007 conference in Stormont when over 450 GAA members attended. The conference will include a range of workshops, keynotes and discussion forums facilitated by leading GAA officials, Civil servants, business leaders and government Ministers. Last year’s keynotes included the then Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Education Catriona Ruane MLA and Margaret Riche MLA, Minister for Social Development. This year’s significant figures from the public sector have confirmed their attendance. Also attending will be GAA President, Nickey Brennan, and President-Elect, Christy Cooney. This year the master of ceremonies is BBC Championship presenter Austin O’Callaghan.

As part of the consultation process for the new Ulster GAA strategy 2009-2015 a specific part of the conference has been set aside where participants will take part in a one-hour club feedback forum were club officials can make their voice heard on the issues currently facing the GAA in the province of Ulster.

There will be seven conference workshops this year, they include:

  • Pitch and Club House Development: This workshop will focus on the development of facilities at clubs. Representatives from both Sports Councils will be present to provide funding advice and guidance to clubs planning new facility projects. Ulster GAA officials will also be present to advise on pitch development, planning, floodlighting and club house development, and to give an overview of the support that the Ulster Council can provide to club level officials in project management.
  • Volunteer and Community Leadership: This workshop will look at the important role that volunteer GAA officials play in the development of community capacity building. The workshop will give an overview of the job roles of club executive officers and will highlight the importance of club planning and community consultation.
  • Urban Club Development: This workshop will review the new development initiatives that the GAA are establishing to support urban clubs in their ongoing development. The workshop will have case studies on successful urban GAA clubs and testaments from urban club officers.  Officials from the GAA Council of Britain will also be present to give an overview of how they develop Gaelic Games in urban settings in Britain.
  • Child Protection at Club Level: A recent change in legislation has resulted in a review of the Child Protection procedures required by GAA clubs. This workshop will give an overview of the important measures that each club must take to ensure that the GAA is compliant in this vital are of association business.
  • Celebrating 125th Anniversary of the GAA at Club Level: The 125th Anniversary of the GAA in 2009 will be milestone in the history of the Association. Both the Central Council and Ulster Council are planning a range of events across Ireland and this workshop will suggest initiatives that clubs can “roll-out” at club level at part of the anniversary celebrations.
  • Women in the GAA: This workshop will highlight the important role that women play in the association, highlighting the integration process that has been taking place in Ulster over the past three years and suggesting club level initiatives that will increase female involvement in the GAA.
  • Club Branding, PR and Communication: As part of the development of the new National GAA Strategy, the GAA commission a brand review which has resulted in new crests and branding for the entire association. This workshop will give clubs an overview of the new branding procedures and their relevance at club level. The workshop will also look at the development of club crests and promotional material and will also give advice of dealing with the media and press.

Keynotes at this year’s conference include addresses from Ulster GAA President Tom Daly, GAA President Nickey Brennan, Noel Doran, Editor of the Irish News and Danny Murphy Provincial Director of Ulster GAA.

President Elect of the GAA Christy Cooney will give a keynote presentation on the new National GAA Strategy, which will be launched on 25th November while Ulster GAA Director of Games Dr. Eugene Young will give a keynote presentation on proposed Ulster GAA diversity initiatives, which will be developed over 2009.   The conference will also have stalls and representatives from companies and organisations who may have services relevant to GAA clubs.

This year’s conference will also see the launch of the new Ulster GAA Community Development Unit, which has been established to provide dedicated support for capacity building at club level, the new unit also, has responsibility for Community Outreach initiatives and strategic development across the province. The unit will be employing two new community development officers as part of a cross-jurisdictional initiative supported by the Department of Social Development and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The new unit will continue the development of the Club Maith support programme which includes a dedicated web-site that offers advice notes, information booklets and draft policies and procedures for clubs. The Club Maith accreditation programme is now also completed and ready to be rolled out over 2009.

Ulster GAA President Tom Daly highlighted the significance of the conference “The success of our first community conference highlighted the need for this event on annual basis, the Ulster Council is committed to supporting clubs in all areas of their development, and the establishment of the new Community Development Unit will help the Council do that. I am looking forward to seeing many of our club officials present at the conference and I confident that all present will benefit from the day. I would also highlight the important role of our conference partner the Irish News, I am grateful for their ongoing support in a range of matters and I look forward to strengthening our relationship over the next year.” 

Irish News editor Noel Doran said, “We are delighted to show our support for the conference as it is a major event for the GAA in Ulster. The conference objectives fit perfectly with the aspirations of the Irish News to create a healthy future for the GAA in Ulster.”

8.30am Registration
9.10am Welcome Austin O’Callaghan
9.20am Ulster President’s Address Tom Daly
9.30am GAA President’s Address Nickey Brennan
9.40am Sponsor Address Noel Doran (Editor, Irish News)
9.50am Special Guest Address  TBC
10.10am WORKSHOPS- 1


1. Pitch and Club House Development Stephen McGeehan

Helen Donnelly (Sport NI)
Irish Sports Council Rep

2. Volunteer and Community Leadership John O’Neill

Mark Conway

3. Urban Club Development Ryan Feeney

Council of Britain GAA

4. Child Protection at Club Level Geraldine McKavanagh
11.10am National GAA Strategy Christy Cooney
11.25am Club Maith Roll Out Ryan Feeney
11.35am WORKSHOPS-2


1. Pitch and Club House Development Stephen McGeehan

Helen Donnelly (SINI)
Irish Sports Council

2. Celebrating 125 at Club Level Donal McAnallen

Bernie McGlinchey

3. Women in the GAA Aileen Tohill

Mark Conway

4. Club Branding, PR and Communication Paddy Heaney

Niall Laird

Austin O’Callaghan

12.35pm LUNCH


1.25pm The Belfast Cuchullians Presentation and GAA Outreach Work Eugene Young

Jimmy Darragh

1.45pm Ulster Strategic Plan Danny Murphy

Mark Conway

1.55pm Round Table Forums


Feedback Forum 1

Coaching and Games

Chair: Oliver Galligan

Facilitator: Dr. Eugene Young

Feedback Forum 2- Governance Chair: Danny Murphy

Facilitator: Michelle McAleer

Feedback Forum 3- Physical Development Chair: Martin McAviney

Facilitator: Stephen McGeehan

Feedback Forum-4 Community Development and Culture and Heritage Chair: Michael Hasson

Facilitator: Ryan Feeney

3.00pm Irish News Club & Volunteer Awards John Brolly

Marketing Director Irish News

3.20pm Launch of the Ulster GAA Community Development Unit Special Guests TBC


Closing Address

Closing Remarks

Special Guest TBC

Aogan Farrell

Vice President Ulster GAA