Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

President’s 2008 Congress Speech

April 15th, 2008

nickey-brennan-congress.jpgFearaim fáilte romhaibh uilig go Sligeach don Chomhdháil Bhliantiúil. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an obair a bheidh idir lámha againn tairbheach d’ár gCumann. Gabhaim buíochas do gach duine a chabhraigh l’eagrú comhdhála na bliana seo.

Bhí bliain fíor-ghnóthach againn agus ina measc sin bhí ceapachán an Ard-Stiurthóra. Maraon le athrú an t-saoil uilig, tá sé riachtanach dúinn gach gné de shaol an lae inniu a inúichadh. In ainneoin sin, níl dabht ar bith agam ná go mbeidh sé ar ár gcumas bheith an-éifeachtach i saol na hÉireann sa todhchaí. Gach aon lá tá daoine ag obair go dian i ngach paróiste in Éirinn ag eagrú ár gcluichí. Is ceart agus is cóir go mbeadh na daoine seo inár naigne i gcónaí, mar is iadsan bunchloc ár gCumann.

I extend a warm welcome to all delegates to this year’s Congress and I thank Coiste Contae Shligigh, its Cathaoirleach John Murphy and its Officers plus Chomhairle Connachta and its Cathaoirleach Lauri Quinn for the warm welcome and for the highly efficient manner in which this year’s Congress has been organised. I also extend a warm céad míle fáilte to the many people who are watching this address and our Congress on the world-wide-web. I am grateful to RTE for providing the technical facilities to allow this broadcast to take place. The past year has been an extraordinarily busy one for our Association, a year that included the appointment of a new Ard Stiúrthóir after nearly three decades. I once again extend our grateful thanks to Liam Ó Maolmhichíl for his outstanding stewardship of our Association for over a quarter of a century. Liam’s guiding hand saw Cumann Lúthchleas Gael overcome many challenges during that time and set us on a road to achieving levels of growth and organisational development beyond our expectations.

The challenges facing our new Ard Stiurthóir will inevitably be different and in an environment of relentless change the landscape facing him will include new and diverse challenges reflected in the changes which have and are occurring in society generally. Paraic Duffy is ideally placed to meet those challenges. He already commands enormous respect for the manner in which he has guided our Association through many difficult issues over the past ten years. Paraic, you are assured of our support as you start out on your seven-year term as Ard Stiurthóir.

Player Welfare

The appointment of a Player Welfare Manager in January 2007 has resulted in significant progress being made in this area. A number of projects are now underway and players at all levels are benefiting, thanks to the advice and guidance of our Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee. A new Player Welfare Manager will be appointed shortly and his task will be to carry on the work already started by Paraic Duffy. Our Association is seriously committed to the welfare of all players and we will continue to introduce new initiatives to support this commitment.

During the past year we had plenty of debate on the over use of players, be that in games/training or a combination of both. I was astonished at the dismissive attitude of some individuals to the player burnout debate. It is quite clear that some mentors are putting selfish quest for personal glory and gratification before the well-being of some of our most talented young players. The advice from experts in this field simply cannot be ignored. While some progress was made at our recent Special Congress addressing the challenge of player burnout, more needs to be done. There is a clear responsibility on County Board Officers now to ensure that adequate attention is paid by all team officials to the needs and welfare of players, particularly those involved with multiple teams.

Government Funding of Player’s Expenses

The Government initiated scheme relating to player’s expenses developed into a contentious matter for our Association over recent months. It was an issue not of our making, but rather one which landed on our desk when the Government announced it was allocating funds for such purposes. I would like to reiterate the following from my address to last year’s Congress which related to a submission to the Government after they announced the funding – “The submission was sent in the name of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael with the support of the GPA. It was done with the approval of Coiste Bainistí following consideration of the collective issues involved and following a presentation and discussion on the matter at Central Council. Contrary to doubts expressed in some quarters, the fundamental dynamics were do we ignore or reject a suggestion from senior Government sources that they were prepared to make additional finance available for player welfare and could this finance be expended on players without undermining the fundamental tenet of our Association, its amateur status. We are happy that both fundamentals are addressed in our submission and will be addressed in any future administration involved. It has been done on the basis that any funding forthcoming will be additional to funding currently being allocated to the Association from the exchequer, that there will be a guarantee of continuity on an annual basis, that it will apply to expenditure being incurred by Inter-County panels of 30 players and be an addition to any player welfare expenditure currently being met by our Association.”

The document I have just alluded to was unanimously approved by Ard Chomhairle prior to our 2007 Congress. It was made freely available to each county and was also widely reported in the national media. I was astonished therefore when I heard some individuals bemoaning the fact that they were not aware of what was going on. A later document, again approved by Ard Chomhairle in late 2007, was very similar to the first version approved earlier in the year. Where were the protests in the intervening months? Not a whisper was heard.

Much work has been undertaken by our Association over the past twelve months ensuring that the Government funded scheme complied with Rule 11 pertaining to our amateur status. Ard Chomhairle was kept fully briefed in relation to on-going work on the document, culminating in unanimous approval on the 17th March. Ard Chomhairle at all times took this matter extremely seriously. We received specialist advice that the scheme complied with Rule 11, was tax compliant and did not infringe European Law. We also had the DRA ruling in recent days that the scheme was fully in compliance with Rule 11. Our position on this matter has now been fully vindicated.

I completely dismiss the notion that the scheme will either now or in the future lead us to a professional or semi-professional Association. I must again state (for the umpteenth time) that the expenses scheme is Government not G.A.A. funded. The scheme ends if Government funding ceases. I am absolutely committed to retaining our Association’s amateur status and I am completely satisfied that this vouched expenses scheme does not or will not impact our amateur ethos in any way.

The amateur status report which was published towards the end of the last decade approved various ways in which individuals might benefit from their status as inter-county G.A.A. players. Although the recommendations contained in that report were approved by Ard Chomhairle, Rule 11 in the Official Guide was never adequately amended to reflect those recommendations. Following this Congress, I will be initiating a re-examination and evaluation of the realities of what is happening today, to reaffirm and ensure that our Association’s amateur status is retained as a core tenet of what we do and what we are about. The committee will be asked to consider all and every aspect of amateurism and to spell out clear policies to guarantee the maintenance of our amateur code. I will be encouraging widespread consultation so as to ensure a wide-ranging set of views is sought. The terms of reference for the committee will be placed before Ard Chomhairle in the coming weeks for consideration and approval. I am determined to have the proposals from this committee before a Special Congress either late this year or in January 2009, whichever is the more practical.

Gaelic Players Association

I remain of the view that recognition of the GPA is appropriate for Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, provided it commits to working under our Association’s Official Guide and there is agreement to other criteria which are essential to developing and maintaining a harmonious relationship into the future. They are the primary voice for inter-county players and we have to understand this. A look at any sports organisation around the world will show some level of a formal relationship between governing bodies and their players. Whatever comes of any discussions we have with the GPA will be placed before Ard Chomhairle for consideration and if necessary before next year’s Congress.
Over the past couple of years we heard the GPA speak out about the need for respect for players. I do not disagree with that call, but I remain very disappointed at the lack of appreciation by the GPA at the extent to which every county now looks after its inter-county players at considerable cost, plus the growing commitment by our Association to the Players Injury Scheme and general welfare. While player welfare issues have been significantly addressed during the past two years, the workload on county officials has grown steadily during that time as a result of the growing level of attention being given to such matters. These officials are in the main volunteers, giving freely of their time and asking for nothing in return other than the satisfaction of knowing that they all do an important job for our Association. I know this work is greatly appreciated by many players, but I wish we had a greater level of respect for our county officials from all players, and from the GPA, for the huge voluntary role they play in our Association. The GPA must understand and accept that a pre-requisite to any meaningful relationship is mutual respect and understanding.

Activities in the early part of this year were disrupted due to a player’s dispute. I never want to see players take strike action again. Such action causes great animosity and mistrust and the resolution in the end can never completely satisfy all the parties. I proposed a charter of understanding and respect between players and their County Boards at the time and I plan to move this forward in the coming months.

Discipline in our Association

Although we had a sizeable reduction in the number of disciplinary cases at national level in 2007, we unfortunately had a number of high profile issues that reflected very poorly on our Association. It is a complete cop out to lay the blame on our Rule Book for the difficulties we encountered with some cases. Our Rule Book is again being updated at this Congress and this on-going work is certainly important, but ultimately the problems we encountered with a number of high profile cases were down to a growing culture of disrespect for our rules, regulations and match officials. The breathtaking arrogance and lack of leadership from some officials saw cases coming before central committees and the DRA when the sanctions should have been accepted and the offence acknowledged. These same officials have the audacity to go back into their own counties and administer the same rules which they tried to side-step at national level. Rewriting our Rule Book, which has been suggested, would be a mammoth task and would take a considerable period of time. Changing the culture of individuals, although equally challenging, is far more important. Without a seismic culture change towards greater respect for our rules, regulations and match officials, I remain unconvinced that even a newly written Rule Book would adequately address some of the issues we encounter right now.

GAA Officers

At recent county conventions we saw the new five-year rule result in a significant number of officers leaving their positions. I know some people bemoaned the introduction of this rule, but it will prove beneficial to our Association in the long run. Those elected to serve as officers must show clear and unambiguous leadership, be prepared to make the tough calls and not just follow a popular line or be intimidated by others. That has not always been the case in the past, as some officers blatantly failed in their responsibility to uphold our rules and regulations and support national policy. We need strong and decisive leadership at all levels of our Association. Respect for our rules, regulations and match officials must receive due and careful attention and not just lip service.

Since the beginning of 2008, many officers at county and club levels underwent a series of training programmes to assist them in their roles. G.A.A. officers today require a wide-ranging set of skills and we are conscious of our responsibility to provide each one with every possible support to allow them to carry out their roles in a timely and efficient manner. Despite the overall excellent turnout, it is disappointing that some officers failed to avail of our recent training programmes. I hope they rectify this at the next available opportunity.

The GAA Club

Some weeks ago we held a very successful Club Forum in Croke Park. I was determined that this forum would involve volunteers from clubs and that most of the day would be spent hearing from these people. We were not disappointed. The feedback was fair and balanced and the delegates were open and honest in their assessment of issues they see as impacting our Association at this time. It was a very useful exercise as we set about preparing a series of strategic initiatives which will form much of the key workload of our new Ard Stiurthóir Paraic Duffy in the coming years.
I continue to be highly impressed at the levels of commitment, volunteerism and loyalty I witness on my travels around Ireland and Overseas. Whether it is in urban or rural areas, our clubs are at the centre of every community. I am very pleased at the manner in which our recent Special Congress accepted the recommendations relating to the provision of a more balanced programme of activities between club and county. We will shortly set about developing the charter, as agreed at the Special Congress, to ensure we deliver on what was approved. I am confident that this will help to address the imbalance which was skewed in favour of the inter-county scene back towards club activities.

We are currently piloting a new electronic membership system and this will go live for all units in January 2009. The lack of a proper membership database causes us many difficulties and I look forward to seeing this issue finalised over the coming months.

Administration of Association

Significant changes have taken place in our administrative structures in Croke Park over the past year, the most significant being the appointment of Paraic Duffy as Ard Stiurthóir. Another important development was the establishment of a core executive team from Cumann Lúthchleas Gael which now includes the Croke Park Stadium Director and the Provincial Secretaries. This group meets every two weeks and will play a key role in the implementation of Association policy across all units. In addition, they will also propose and prepare policy initiatives for consideration by Coiste Bainistí, Ard Chomhairle and even Congress, where necessary. The role of the executive team will not impede in any way on the current work of any unit in our Association, but will ensure that the collective wisdom and expertise of the group is harnessed to provide well structured advice and recommendations to our Association at large.

Developments in our Association, particularly over the past two years, have placed enormous demands on our Ard Stiurthóir and other key executives. Requests for advice from units in our Association covering every possible subject arrive daily in Croke Park. The on-going need to engage external expertise is extremely costly and must be addressed. We are now committed to appointing in-house expertise in the areas of HR Management and Child Welfare. The primary beneficiaries of these appointments will be our county and club units. The appointments are necessary, not just from an expertise viewpoint, but also from a governance and accountability perspective. Our Association also requires a high level of legal advice on a continual basis; however, we must be able to manage routine legal issues ourselves. Our units at all levels would ultimately benefit from having such in-house legal expertise.

Our re-organisation programme at national level will be completed over the coming months and we will then have an appropriate administrative structure in place to support the growing challenges facing our Association and to work in harmony with our many officials and thousands of volunteers around the country. The re-organisation programme included a benchmarking exercise, conducted by an external party, in order to ensure that whatever final structures were adopted were appropriate for our Association. I staunchly defend the need to invest in new skills and expertise to support our Association’s activities at national level. The scale of activities in our Association has grown enormously over the years, however we were badly equipped in both resources and expertise in some areas to drive forward the plans and expectations of our members. With a freshly invigorated team operating under the guidance of Paraic Duffy, I can assure Congress that we have a dedicated group of people who will serve our Association very well in the coming years.

I indicated at the beginning of February this year (as the new Ard Stiurthóir took up his new position) that I wanted the Uachtarán to become less involved in the executive side of G.A.A. operations on a daily basis. I am pleased to report that this is now the position.


No sport in this country receives such critical analysis as hurling. The harshest criticism tends to come from within the hurling fraternity where doomsday scenarios are expounded at regular intervals. I accept that hurling has particular challenges, however, let’s consider some facts. Verifiable statistics show that the game is being played by more people now than ever before and in areas of the country where it was never played. We have more people employed in full-time and voluntary roles supporting the game in clubs, schools and colleges. The three-tier senior championship has been a great success. Look at how many counties have won Senior All-Ireland titles over the past quarter of a century. Some counties are making great strides, particularly at Tier 2 & 3 levels. On the down side I have to accept that the senior championship (Liam McCarthy Cup) has a less competitive look to it right now than a few short years ago. That though is only one measure of where we are, albeit an important one. Some counties have undoubtedly gone backwards in recent years, but the responsibility for this has to rest primarily on the shoulders of officials in those same counties who failed to put appropriate development structures in place over the past ten years in particular. These counties are now paying very dearly for such poor or non-existent planning. Significant levels of funding are being made available for hurling development projects and additional resources will be made available, as necessary, for well thought out initiatives. The reality is that some counties have taken their eye badly off the ball and are now paying the price. Vision, leadership and perhaps more importantly a passion for the game is now required to ensure that counties put realistic and measurable development plans in place to ensure a more competitive environment exists at the top tier level.

The revamping of the Liam McCarthy senior hurling championship has been a consistent topic at all recent Congresses and it continues to receive much coverage in media circles. I have been reluctant as Uachtarán to engage publically in debate on the matter; however I must now say that I am not comfortable with the current structure. The Ard Stiurthóir and I are engaging with the Provinces and some counties to elicit their views on the matter, but it will ultimately be the responsibility of the HDC to come up with any new proposal. It is my wish that over the coming months we will get agreement on a championship model which is fair and balanced, giving every county an opportunity to play in a competitive structure that will be appealing to both players and patrons. It is high time that this matter was finalised and for a minimum period of five years.

Marketing & Commercial

At last year’s Congress I set out three targets for our Association to achieve by this year’s Congress:
1. To recognise the G.A.A. brand as a major asset and to invest in its development and maintenance to ensure it maintains its relevance in the future.
2. To compliment the brand review by helping the G.A.A. reposition itself by joining with prestigious brands in the marketing our games.
3. To set out the G.A.A.’s priorities in terms of quantity, quality and presentation of the Radio and TV coverage of Gaelic Games and the level of support we give to the concept of competition for the next three years and within those criteria to maximize the G.A.A.’s exposure and revenue.
Our new brand was unveiled last night and the roll-out to all units will take place over the next two years. In creating our new identity we remain mindful of our past, celebrating the cultural origins of our identity whilst addressing the need to keep pace with modern society. The GAA, our name, representing youth and games, now sits at the heart of our brand. This is our identity, not redefined, but refined for our times, indeed, a future for our past.
The three objectives which I outlined at last year’s Congress are of major commercial importance to our Association and I commend the work of Dermot Power and his team in this area. Gaelic Games remain Ireland’s top sports brand even when pitted against major international sports. Our games are deeply embedded in communities the length and breadth of the country and our attraction to commercial partners is well established. Our brands and our games have a strong commercial value and we had a clear responsibility during our recent commercial negotiations relating to sponsorship and media contracts to obtain the maximum available return to our Association. Ultimately, in one way or another, such commercial income eventually finds its way right down through our Association. Rather than apologise for our recent successful commercial negotiations, as was being intimated in some circles, I am delighted that our Association is at last reaching its potential at every level and our units will benefit from the enhanced sources of revenue without compromising our core values.

Infrastructural Developments

Our Association will continue to provide extensive funds for capital infrastructural developments as was evidenced by over €14M being made available in 2007. The opening of Croke Park to other sports for a short-term period until 2010 will generate a significant level of once-off funds which will be used exclusively for capital projects. Last night’s presentation to Congress outlined how this once-off funding will be utilized. Our 2008 revenue budget at national level has allocated an additional €4M specifically for club related projects with significant funding also forthcoming from Provincial Councils. Over the past three years GAA clubs received over €6.8M from central funds for numerous infrastructure developments.

The level of infrastructure developments in our Association continues to be significant. While I welcome such developments, I must caution every unit to assess their needs, focusing primarily on playing facilities rather than extensive club houses which are often over-elaborate and require extensive resources in terms of finance and personnel to maintain.


Many financial commentators are forecasting that our country may be in for turbulent economic times. If this scenario materialises, our Association will not be immune from the knock-on consequences. Although our Finance Director Tom Ryan gave an upbeat presentation of our 2007 financial accounts last evening, we need to be mindful of Tom’s comments relating to the challenges we face going forward and the evolving economic conditions in Ireland.

Our 2007 accounts show for the first time the extent to which funds are dispersed down to our various units. A glance at pages 46 and 47 of our annual report will show that in excess of €45M was distributed to G.A.A. units in 2007 under a variety of headings. This I should add excludes payments via the Player Injury Scheme which came to €9M. Following this Congress a special report will be sent to every club giving summary details of our Association’s finances. There is a lack of information at club level regarding our finances and our members are generally very badly informed on this topic. A few headline grabbing figures tend to make the limelight in media coverage, so there is an onus therefore on us to inform our members of the facts.

The work of the Croke Park Stadium team under the guidance of Stadium Director Peter McKenna continues to deliver major financial benefits to our Association. Apart from the undoubted success of the stadium as an outstanding sports arena, Croke Park is now one of the prime conference locations in Dublin. I commend all those responsible for the on-going success of our stadium.


Our Association has been pretty poor at communicating with our units and grass root members. Key decisions made at central level regularly impact clubs and their members. Not alone should such decisions be communicated to each club in a timely manner, but the rationale behind them may need to be explained in some detail also. We have for too long depended on our national media to convey our decisions to our members and this situation is no longer tenable. The lack of adequate resources at central level and our general structure and systems has militated against providing an appropriate service up to now. This is being addressed with immediate effect and the first direct communications to clubs took place this week. Every county was asked to submit e-mail addresses of their club secretaries; however, we are still awaiting a response from a number of counties. So through no fault of our PR Section in Croke Park, some clubs did not receive our first news sheet this week. We look forward to receiving the necessary contact details from the remaining counties in the coming week.


I want to thank all sections of the media for their excellent coverage of Gaelic Games on a daily basis. That coverage is in the main fair, balanced and respectful. We should not become over sensitive to criticism. As the primary sporting organisation in this country, our activities, be they on or off the field, will continue to attract widespread coverage. Our actions and decisions will receive critical analysis. We may not like some of this analysis, but whatever is written or said will never deter us from serving an Association to which we were elected to provide leadership and support to our members.

Cultúr agus Scór

Cuireann méid mhór de bhallraíocht an chumainn béim faoi leith as chultúr na hÉireann. Gabhaim buíochas do Scór agus do Choiste na Gaeilge as an sárobair a ghlacann siad ar ár son. An bhliain seo chugainn beidh béim faoi leith ar ár gcultúr toisc go bhfuil céad is fiche chúig blian imithe ó bhunaíodh Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Beidh imeachtaí speisialta eagraithe ag Scór agus Coiste na Gaeilge agus táim cinnte go dtabharfaidh sibh an tacaíocht a bhfuil tuillte do na heagraíochtaí seo.


Last night’s presentation from the Overseas Committee shows the extent to which our Association is expanding around the world. The recognition of this work by our Government via Dion funding is very much appreciated and has enabled our Association to grow in existing territories and develop in new areas. I salute the work of our Irish Diaspora and their commitment to keeping our national games alive in many foreign lands.

Sport in our Schools & Colleges

I once again take the opportunity to extend my grateful appreciation and that of our entire Association to all those involved in our Primary Schools and in Second and Third Level Colleges. The dedication and loyalty of teachers and many others who work in these sectors is a vital component in the development of Gaelic Games. Thank you all for you great work.

Our Older Citizens

The Ard Stiúrthóir and I recently met with Dr Martin McAleese concerning an initiative he has proposed in relation to the needs of elder citizens in our society. Dr. McAleese, along with Uachtarán na hÉireann Mary McAleese has been championing this particular cause for many years. There is a section of our society, frequently elder men, many perhaps unmarried who live a reclusive lifestyle and rarely have the opportunity or means to get out and about. These people have essentially become disengaged from the community at large. Many are former players and volunteers from clubs in our Association. They were there for us during our first involvement with the G.A.A. It is now our duty to show our gratitude for such endeavours. I am happy today therefore to announce the launch of an initiative which will see our Association play a leading role, along with a number of other organisations with an interest in this area. The initiative will involve the development of a series of events to which people in such a situation will be invited. The Ard Stiurthóir and I are grateful for the leadership and advice we received from Dr. Martin McAleese in this regard. While still in the early stages of development, the initiative will involve a strong G.A.A. theme and I will be announcing more details in the coming months. I expect to see a pilot scheme up and running by the autumn and I will be looking to County Boards for their support and input.

A Green Initiative

The GAA throughout its history has been a force for change and national development, but development today must be sustainable. Resources are finite. Climate change is a fact. Selfish use of resources, if unchecked, will damage our environment and impoverish us all. At the heart of the G.A.A. is working together and putting more in than you take out. For this reason the environmental challenge we all face, the Green agenda if you like, is a natural fit for us all. We are committed as an organisation to respecting and protecting our environment.

I will shortly announce a major five-year programme to make Croke Park a truly Green Stadium. This initiative will set challenging targets covering:

  • Energy efficiency.
  • Environmental best practice.
  • A carbon neutral target for stadium activities.

• Extensive engagement with G.A.A. patrons to obtain their support for the Green Stadium partnership.
More details of this exciting initiative will be outlined in the coming weeks.
Our 125th Anniversary in 2009
Jarlath Burns gave you an outline last night of some of the projects we have in mind for 2009 as we celebrate our 125th anniversary. I appeal to you to support all our initiatives. In our centenary year of 1984 targets were set for our units and you all responded magnificently. I have no doubt you will respond with equally enthusiasm in relation to our 125th anniversary projects.Appreciation

I am grateful for the support I received from so many people during the past year. I want to sincerely thank the Ard Stiurthóir (current and past), the entire staff of both CLG and PCT and fellow officers & committees in our Association at all levels for their support. Finally, I thank my family without whose loyalty and support I would not be addressing you today.


In my address today I outlined some of the key challenges which we face at this time. People today have greater choices in everything they do, even the sports they and their children play and support. Our hectic lifestyle places growing pressure on our members, yet we continue to attract many individuals who get tremendous satisfaction from their involvement in our Association as players and volunteers. We live in a more demanding and materialistic society and this inevitably places additional challenges at our doorsteps. The challenges posed by competitor sports and leisure actives have been well documented; however other challenges right now come from within our own Association. Too much time is spent dealing with internal conflict when resources and people’s time should be focused on external challenges and the development of policies and initiatives for the future. The selfish attitude of some individuals cannot be allowed to divert us from the critical issues which ought to be our primary focus.
Just as 1984 was the catalyst for reinvigoration, let 2009 be the dynamic that consolidates our status and propels our development in the 21st century. Let us develop a charter for unity, a charter whereby our rules and regulations are applied equitably and uniformly at all levels and where the decision in their application is accepted by all. Let us strive to ensure that the voice of the club is meaningfully heard and that we can balance and compliment club and county activity in our games. Let us aim, not just to expand the geographic and demographic landscape in which our games are played, but let us aim for more equitable competition formats that will endure.
Our country has seen huge demographic change and has developed from a rural subsistent society to an urban materialistic society in a short few decades. It now hosts a kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions. Ensuring that our Association approaches these developments from a premise of opportunity rather than negativity and inertia is a challenge we must meet.

We have many reasons to feel a sense of satisfaction and pride in the record of our Association, its contribution to our country and to our Diaspora and the role it continues to play in providing a sporting, social and cultural focus in our country. While we may indulge in some retrospection on occasions, we cannot be complacent. We must learn from the past and we must utilise our great resources to evaluate and meet the challenges before us.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the G.A.A. today is a strong, vibrant and confident organisation. We continue to inspire the people of our country who view our Association as the outstanding community based organisation on this island, giving identity and pride to their birthplace. We are seen as a way of life. It is worth reflecting on the following response which was given during the recent brand review project – “The G.A.A. is the glue that keeps us together. It’s about community effort, to which the G.A.A. makes a major contribution. It’s about the identity of the people. It’s the greatest form of building friendship in communities. It’s about pride of place. It’s a national sport not dominated by world events. It gives us something different to hold on to as we become more Europeanised. As the country becomes richer, it gives us something to hold on to that is bigger than material wealth.” It is encouraging that these values continue to inspire people in our Association, particularly our younger members. Let them be our inspiration also as we head towards our 125th anniversary.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. Gur a míle maith agaibh go léir.

Slán agus beannacht.
Nioclas O Braonain
Uachtaran CLG

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