Wexford GAA County Board
County Convention 12/12/2018, Riverside Park, Enniscorthy
Reports by Rúnaí, Cisteoir and sub-committees
The reports had been circulated in advance to all clubs and were adopted.
The Treasurer’s Report recorded a net surplus increase of almost €300k on last year, up to nearly €500,000, which left a positive current balance in the accounts 9f €94,000 compared to a negative balance of more than €200,000. Several delegates praised this improvement in the accounts and the Cathaoirleach noted that the longstanding debt had been eliminated in this long overdue return to a positive balance-sheet.
The Cisteoir was commended on his commitment to balancing the books and to increasing gates and other receipts. Delegates welcomed the reduction of €90,000 in team expenses which bucks the national trend and also welcomed the increase of €80,000 in national leagues receipts and of €20,000 in rents received. The overall growth in commercial income is very welcome and reflects well on the work of the new commercial manager, Éanna Martin, and the wider commercial committee. It was noted however that the income received from Innovate was down by €10,000 and it was explained that this was due to ongoing discussions with the company regarding the balance of their sponsorship which Innovate had wanted to direct towards specific scholarships but which Wexford GAA wishes to direct to broader development. It is anticipated that this matter will be discussed and resolved in the coming months. The reduction in Development Draw receipts is due to the fact that a 2017 prize car was only purchased in 2018; actual sales for the 2018 draw were up by €6,000.
Election of Officers and delegates to Congress / Convention
All those nominated were elected unopposed. One candidate withdrew his name from the contest for All Ireland Congress so all those nominated were deemed elected.
President of Wexford GAA
Former Rúnaí Chontae, Mick Kinsella of Buffers’ Alley, was unanimously elected as the new Uachtarán CLG Loch Garman for a two year term.
Presentation by the Commercial Steering Group (M. Mahon)
The Commercial Steering group meets every second Friday, early in the morning, and the broader committee meets once a month. Among the highlights this year were:
- NYC fundraiser, which raised €40,000 and established very useful long-term links
- Punchestown Races, revived after an 11 year gap.
- Cairde Loch Garman Golf Classic
- Cairde Loch Garman Dog Night
- Cairde Loch Garman membership: an increase of 200 people at €25 per head and offering discounts for members, advance team information, advance access to match tickets. However, the overall number is still a long way short of comparable counties
- Season tickets: a major push on this has yielded significant growth
- Signage: has been reorganised and professionalised and now yields €25,000 per annum
- Development of Corporate Sponsor packages: in 2018, despite the late start, 1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze packages were sold.
- Dublin supporters club: championship preview and golf classic.
There is a lot of work still to be done and the recent fundraising event in Boston will be reflected in the 2019 accounts. Overall however, commercial income has grown by €221,000 with associated costs increasing by €40,000. The commercial team tries not to clash with clubs’ own fundraising efforts and it is finding a lot of interest out there in the Wexford GAA brand.
Presentation on the Wexford GAA Referee Development Plan 2019 – 2023 (Philip Howlin)
Over a few months, Philip Howlin chaired a group including Dickie Murphy, Shane Quinn, Niall McDonald, Fintan Farrell, Noel Ryan and John Fleming to examine how to facilitate referees to reach their full potential and how to increase refereeing numbers. The group’s work began with two surveys, one directed specifically at referees, and the other one targeting clubs. The group met with rugby and soccer referees’ associations and with our own referees’ administration committee (comprising Dickie Murphy, Seamus Whelan, John Rossiter).
The vast majority of those surveyed agreed that referees should be graded and the group recommends that the current panel of referees should be graded 1-4 by the Referees’ Administration Committee (RAC). This should be supported by an extensive recruitment PR campaign, with ads in match programmes and specific recruitment targeting TY students. Each new referee should have a “referee buddy”, with whom issues / learnings could be discussed, and no new referee should be exposed to games without extensive training and mentoring first. This overall approach should be supported by branded marketing materials: e.g. notepads, pens, refs’ forms.
With regard to the quantity / quality of training, 62% of referees felt it was inadequate and 73% of the broader survey group felt that referees are not adequately trained. The group recommends that basic standard training for should be the building block for grade 4, with incremental standards improvements up to Grade 1. There should be a clear pathway to demonstrate to the novice referee how to achieve Grade 1 status. This could be supported by bi-monthly referees’ meetings organised on a District basis in a consistent way to facilitate peer review, learning etc. The group recommends that proper ring-fenced funding should be put in place to support this by the County Board
As for assessment of referees, virtually all referees agree with assessment and 92% of the wider sample think that there is not enough assessment done in the county. A large majority would like a mix of internal and external assessors. The group recommends that all Grade 1 and Grade 2 referees should have outside assessors and that a panel of 6 football and 6 hurling external assessors should be put in place in 2019. This panel should train internal assessors for 2020. The group also considers that there should be a minimum of 8 on the RAC, and that the Chairman should represent referees at the County Board, which should set aside time on the agenda for refereeing items. The County Board should also review progress on this strategy over the next 5 years
Another issue identified by the group included the difficulty experienced by referees in getting umpires. The group recommends that each club should nominate 4 umpires for local district games whose names would be given to RAC as backup where a referee can’t get his or her own umpires. Lack of respect for referees was identified as an issue by 97% of the wider survey respondents. The group recommends a focused communication plan from the County Board to emphasise the need for respect for referees. The protocol regarding the number of team officials allowed on sidelines needs to be strongly implemented.
Two-thirds of respondents had said that they don’t get playing rule changes explained clearly to them by referees. The group therefore recommends District meetings for clubs with a referee to explain any changes and that information flyers be sent to each club coach and that there be better explanation of existing rules via social media, match programmes, and local media (target one or two rules in each programme).
It was agreed to revisit the proposals and have a detailed discussion at a future county board meeting in early 2019
The CCCC motion was passed but the Coiste na nÓg motion, while its sentiment was understood and supported, will instead be brought to Croke Park for discussion and recommendation as it would currently constitute a breach of rule. It will be recommended to Croke Park that Wexford could be used to pilot the proposals, if endorsed.
The Oulart-The Ballagh motions were lost.
The HWH-Bunclody motion was passed.
Tribute to Margaret Doyle
Tony Dempsey, speaking on behalf of Coiste Bainistíochta, paid tribute to Margaret Doyle who was retiring as Rúnaí Chontae. He outlined her 27 years’ service to the county board and detailed her GAA connections and work before taking on the role of adult secretary in 2008 in the midst of a huge recession. Many delegates paid fulsome tribute to Margaret thereafter.
Micheal Martin presentation on Games Development
There has been a significant increase in the numbers of Games Promotion Officers, to 13, in 2018 while managing to spend €12,000 less than in 2017. The GPO scheme is proving to be of great interest to clubs with several now on a waiting list for the next possible development opportunity. Great progress has been made on the rolling out of an athletic development plan to enable all our squads, particularly those at underage level, to compete on level playing field in terms of physical development and strength. The completion of the gym facilities recently in the Centre of Excellence has been a huge help in this regard.
The county has been working over recent months, in conjunction with Croke Park, on the appointment of a Wellbeing Manager which will be co-funded by Croke Park, the Leinster Council, Wexford County Council and the Waterford & Wexford Education Training Board, with sponsorship by the Sam McCauley company. It is hoped to make an appointment in January, to work with schools and clubs in this very important area and it will be the first such appointment in the country. As outlined above, the position will be cost neutral to the County Board.
The Chairman gave an overall review of the year and highlighted the mostly positive outcomes of the year as well as some negative aspects. There were many positives with our finances finally in a positive position and he paid particular tribute to the Cisteoir, Andrew Nolan, and all who helped with the staging of our games. Coaching is progressing well with an additional six coaches employed at no extra cost and the Hurling 365 model rolled out to over seventy schools. He gave great credit to all the committees, including those promoting Irish language and culture, and to those involved in the centenary and other anniversary celebrations. While we had a mixed year on the playing front, and suffered relegation in football, our hurlers were very competitive.
He welcomed the new Rúnaí Chontae, Gearóid Devitt, and wished him well on his return to his native County Wexford. He paid particular tribute to outgoing Rúnaí Margaret Doyle and thanked her for her guidance in his term as Chairman and he wished her and her husband Jim well for the future. He thanked all those involved in promoting our games and thanked both South East Radio and Wexford People for their in-depth match reporting.
Looking forward to 2019, he stated that Wexford GAA will continue to control its costs while increasing revenue. The hosting of GAA Congress early in the year will be an opportunity to showcase the county and he looked forward to further recruitment of GPOs and more promotion of our games and coaching in both primary and secondary schools.
He also stated that Wexford GAA will address the often inaccurate and erroneous “fake news” stories by a local reporter and noted that the unduly negative tone of these stories does not help Wexford GAA in its efforts to increase commercial income in order to help promote our games. Properly researched and factual commentary is welcome and criticism when merited can be constructive. Wexford GAA however has a responsibility to defend its large cohort of volunteers, who contribute selflessly to the organisation and enjoyment of our games, from unwarranted or incorrect public criticism.