THE G.A.A. is built on tribal roots and it was the way that families settled disputes.
That's the opinion of outgoing Coiste na nOg Chairman, Des O'Neill, when he addressed the County Convention in the Ferrycarrig Hotel on Monday night last.
O'Neill told Convention that it was the way that rival clans and rival parishes and areas sorted their differences.
'I believe that this tribal concept whereby every club under the guidance of their Chairman acting as chieftain here tonight comes together and are represented at Conventions, is what keeps the G.A.A. strong and growing,' he added.
'We all keep each other honest. We all look after the welfare of our club and your parish. By everyone pulling to look after their own in equal strength the common good has prevailed. G.A.A. is one of the strongest volunteer-driven nonprofessional sporting organisations in the world. This is thanks to our club focus.
'If Wexford want to go to the next level we need to think differently. We need to think and behave differently than what has brought us to this point in time.
'There once was a wise man who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If Albert Einstein were here with us tonight would he judge what we are doing as insanity? Would he say that Wexford G.A.A. is insane? Would he say that Wexford clubs are insane?
'Yes, for clubs, there has been progress. Yes, at county level, there has been progress. I am not being negative, we can point to the green shoots. We can point to the flashes of brilliance. Are we where we want to be? Is your county where you want it to be? The bottom line is that if we want a different result we need to do something about it. We need to do something different to what we have been doing,' he said.
He went on to say that as clubs they needed to forego their tribal roots on at least a temporary basis. One needed to step back and look at the bigger picture. What do you want for your club and what do you want for your country?
O'Neill said: ' We may have to accept what you want and what you get are different. We may need to accept that I might have a different idea to you. At times you may need to trust me and follow me and other times to gain consensus I may need to give up on my idea because yours is a better one. We may need to be strategic. We need to be collaborative. We need to be collectively strategic. We need to set out what we want and go for it. To do that we need you.'
However, the outgoing Chairman revealed that he had concerns for Wexford G.A.A. 'Believe it or not it has very little to with with what happens on the field. My first concern is that people at times are unwilling or unable to see the bigger picture. We need to make decisions in this room and in our County Board meetings next year and really work for the collective good. We may need to make shortterm sacrifices for the long-term benefit. We need to make hard decisions.
'This time last year I came to this Convention full of ideas and enthusiasm, fully committed to contributing something positive to Wexford G.A.A. I came here as Chairman of Ferns G.A.A. club and as a proud Ferns man. I wanted to contribute on behalf of my club.
'I came here as a former player having played and won a Tony Forristal under Diarmuid Devereux in 1990, having played under people like Tony Dempsey, Willie Carley, John Hanton, Seán Ormonde, role models one and all. I observed as a child Jim and Monica Ferguson, Paddy Wickham, Dermot Howlin. As a player I wanted to give something back.
'That is not the only reason I came here. My family has been here since the first Wexford Convention. My greatgreat-grandfather Martin was the sub Wexford delegate to the second national Congress in Thurles in 1886. I am fifth generation direct line Chairman in Ferns. My grandfather is the longest-ever serving Leinster Secretary from 1927 to 1969 and he was followed into the fray by my uncle Ciarán, who served the G.A.A. for his entire life. Wexford G.A.A. and G.A.A. administration is actually in my blood. It is part of my DNA.
'They are all just reasons. Do you know why I really came to the table? I am a proud Wexford man and nothing counts as much as that lump that comes up in the back of your throat when a Wexford team takes the field. People may not like what I am about to say but I feel it needs to be said. We all come to the table with the best of intentions but I think sometimes people may lose sight of what is truly important.'
However, the Chairman said that during the last year he despaired about some of the things that he witnessed.
'The politicking and the manouvering. At times lack of integrity and honesty. People doing whatever they want and whatever they think despite something different being agreed. People not treating other people working for the betterment of the G.A.A. with the respect that they deserve. There are plenty of knockers and hurlers on the ditch. Plenty of people pushing their own little agenda.
'For Wexford to succeed we need honesty, we need integrity, we need communication and dialogue. We need transparency and clarity. We need debate and consensus. We will not be able to please all the people all of the time. We need to accept that now and live with it.
'We need positivity. We need the knockers and hurlers on the ditch to be hunted out and exposed for what they truly are. We need to get back to basics. We need the real men and women of Wexford G.A.A. to stand up and be counted.
'We need to stop talking and start doing. One and all we need to agree our direction and then we need to put our shoulders to the wheel and do it. We need to pull together.'