County secretary Pat Fitzgerald and chairman Joe Cooney answer questions from the top table.

Clare GAA’s annual convention learned that 2016 was not without its successes on the GAA front, Clare hurlers secured a national league title 38 years while the senior footballers won promotion from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League and enjoyed a fine run in the championship reaching a Croke Park quarter final before exiting to Kerry.

Towards the end of the year the focus shifted towards David Fitzgerald ending his tenure as hurling manager a year earlier than expected. Reflecting on the year just past, delegates to the annual Clare GAA county convention discussed a range of topics including the further development of facilities in Ennis and Caherlohan, finance and the role of the supporters club in generating funds.

Advance media headlines from a very comprehensive secretary’s report by Pat Fitzgerald centred on comments regarding the former senior hurling manager, David Fitzgerald. Delegates had little to say apart from Tulla representative Brian Torpey who expressed disappointment with a remark in the report; “the two goals leaked to Galway were horrendous defensive blunders and for those the players have to ship the blame”. Torpey informed the meeting that his club wanted to disassociate from this comment, he added, “no-one knows better than a player if a game does not go well”.

The only electoral contest of note was for the central council position which were contested by the incumbent, John Fawl, and O’Callaghans Mills vice-chairman Noel O’Driscoll, a former board officer. Fawl scored a comfortable victory over the challenger who was a regular contributor to debates during the evening. For instance, during the supporters club debate O’Driscoll stated that The Friends of Clare in New York handed over a cheque for $57,000 dollars in February 2013 while an individual from his neighbouring parish wrote a cheque for over
$15,000.

Coolmeen delegate Martin O’Brien continued to ask about supporters club issue from the floor, and put it to the top table,“Do you not have confidence in the treasurer of the board that these accounts are not under his control?”
In response it was stated that the outgoing hurling supporters club is being wound up and discussions will take place in the new year about how to proceed from there.

County treasurer Bernard Keane stated that it would be his penultimate report as he intends to step down at the 2017 convention, bringing to a close 25 years of service to the county board.

A Noel O’Driscoll query revealed that county secretary’s contract with Croke Park expired on 1st July 2016. Pat Fitzgerald explained he now works for Clare GAA to supervise the development of Cusack Park. This entailed a significant pay reduction as there is no longer a contribution from Croke Park.

Referee’s administrator Ger Hoey noted that only four new referees were introduced in 2016. He acknowledged a shortage of football officials in North and West Clare and hurling referees in East Clare.

In his address to convention, county chairman Joe Cooney thanked former hurling manager David Fitzgerald for his 5 years in charge and Colm Collins for a wonderful footballing year. Mr Cooney wished the incoming hurling management of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor the best of luck for the future. He also acknowledged the generous support from Pat O’Donnell’s sponsorship and announced a new three year deal with the long time Crusheen sponsor.

The following delegates were elected to attend Congress on the weekend of 24/25 and 26th February; Bernard Keane, Ger Hickey, Michael Lee, and Frank Burke. Dessie Farrell, Neil O’Brien, Sean Chambers and board officers will attend the Munster Convention on January 28th.