WE, the committee of Slane Gaelic Football Club, wish to respond to an article published in the Drogheda Independent on November 28th last which was both derogatory and demeaning to our club.
We accept that the author, Sean Wall, has been covering football in Meath for a long number of years and is well placed to offer his opinion in that regard. However, any reading of his article about Slane GFC's relegation to Junior B football suggests he did not research this subject in any great detail.
We accept that to the uninformed observer, the club's position looks precarious, but as a professional commentator Mr Wall surely does not fall into the 'uninformed observer' category.
Of course we are bitterly disappointed that the club has fallen from senior ranks to junior B, and that we experienced difficulty in fielding a team at adult level in 2012, but there has been a huge amount of work going in for the last seven or eight years in rebuilding the club and we are confident that we have a very bright future.
That someone of the status of former Meath footballer Mattie McCabe has agreed to be team manager in 2013 is surely an endorsement of that belief. Like the iceberg, only 10% of what we do is visible, the other 90% is unseen, but we can assure Mr Wall that Slane GFC is as healthy now as it has been for many years.
Indeed, 2012 was another successful year for the club's Juvenile section. As in previous years, our underage teams performed very well, winning a number of titles and reaching a lot of finals and semi-finals.
But of course we do not just measure success in these terms, because there are greater matters at stake than winning medals. Yes, it is nice to win finals, and we are all delighted when it happens, but we are happy too to see that with each passing year, teams representing Slane are moving up through the grades. Where a few years ago it was common to see our teams competing in Division 6 and 7 in the various age groups we are now competing regularly at Division 3 and 4.
We are also regularly encountering traditional big clubs like Seneschalstown, Walterstown, Ratoath and Trim, and as shown in figures published by Meath County Board, we have one of the highest number of registered members of clubs in the county.
All of which makes a nonsense of Mr Wall's assertion that Slane's population increase during the Celtic Tiger 'hasn't had a knock-on effect in such numbers as to keep the Gaelic club on a sound footing'.
This is one of numerous examples of Mr Wall making false assumptions in his article, as opposed to putting forward a valid opinion based on sound research and factual accuracy. It is remarkable that a journalist would write, for example, that the reasons for the club's fall down the ranks because of a lack of numbers is 'due no doubt to a variety of reasons' - the phrase ' no doubt' shows Mr Wall is offering a guess as to the reasons. He then puts forward obvious factors which affect all clubs - retirements, emigration and malaise, and of course the first two in particular have hit Slane hard.
However, what angers us most is that Mr Wall ignores the elephant in the room and we can only deduce this is deliberate. He did not inform readers that one of the biggest problems the club has traditionally experienced is that in one area of the parish people throw in their allegiance with neighbours Rathkenny and not with Slane, despite our best efforts.
In fact, Mr Wall should have been upfront with readers and pointed out that even though he has always lived in Slane parish, he like many others in that area of the parish, played all his football with Rathkenny. He also served on the committee in Rathkenny, and not in his own parish of Slane. In the interest of fairness to our club, this should have been highlighted in any meaningful attempt to look at our situation objectively. If all Gaelic footballers who lived in Slane played football with Slane, as opposed to Rathkenny, we would not have had any trouble fielding an adult team in 2012, or avoiding the drop to Junior B. We are sure Mr Wall, as a native of Slane, is aware of this.
Mr Wall is perfectly entitled to comment on Slane GFC, and to offer his opinions about our current situation. But these opinions must be formed by a knowledge of what has really been happening in the club, and by a willingness to put everything into the public domain. Doing a piece like this off the top of the head serves noone's interest. Yours in sport, Slane GFC Executive Commitee