'A very bad taste'
Tensions high as new CCC fixtures committee ratified
Tensions in the meeting room in Ballinakill rose significantly at Monday night's County Board meeting when the discussion turned to the ratification of the CCC committees, both fixtures and disciplinary.
There are a number of positional changes in the fixtures committee that have caused some upset among some long-serving and dedicated members of the CCC.
County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald revealed that the CCC fixtures committee chairperson is to be Bridget Kenny, while the imminent appointment of a full-time person in Ballinakill to look after fixtures in the county without consulting either Mick Hagan or Tom Byrne was also offered as cause for upset.
Both Hagan and Tom Byrne are remaining on the fixtures committee, but these moves are being regarded as something of seismic shifts with one delegate describing the "disregarding" of the experience of the two men, Hagan and Byrne, as "disgraceful", while another asked if both men were on trial and stated that the situation was very embarrassing.
The discussion began with County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald seeking the ratification of both the fixtures and disciplinary committees.
As well as the change of chairperson there was also a new referee administrator appointed with Donal O'Keeffe taking over that role with Kieron Kenny who was replaced after one year in the job.
"CCC is the only committee we are ratifying tonight because we want to be doing work in the next few weeks on fixtures and transfers," said Martin Fitzgerald.
"The CCC fixture committee is Bridget Kenny, chairperson, Tom Byrne, secretary, Mick Hagan, Seamus Finn, West Board representative, and Donal O'Keeffe as referee's administrator. And there's one more person to be added to that.
"The CCC disciplinary committee is Michael O'Keeffe, chairperson, Michael Murphy, secretary, Damien Byrne, Tom Coyne, Jackie Napier, Michael O'Neill, and Fintan Flanagan," he said.
"We have no county treasurer at the moment and we are seeking nominations," he added.
Jackie Napier questioned the wisdom that the vice-chairman Mick Hagan be "removed" from the CCC chairman position after having done it and gained so much "experience for a long number of years".
Martin Fitzgerald replied that the decision was at the discretion of every chairman to pick the committee and that Mick Hagan was "not removed" from the CCC committee.
"He's still on the CCC committee," said Martin Fitzgerald. "And the vice-chairman last year wasn't on the CCC. Everybody knows how experienced Mick is and he is still on the CCC," he added.
Mick Hagan said that he would be making a comment on the situation when the county review was being discussed.
Martin Fitzgerald said that he felt that the county had an "able lady" in the form of Bridget Kenny as chairperson of the CCC fixtures committee.
"We have an able lady and ladies behind the scenes do a lot of work in the GAA and we have an able lady in Bridget Kenny as chair of the CCC.
"We're gone past that actually, Jackie. As we said we have no county treasurer at the moment so the clubs have to nominate someone for the position and the closing date is January 15.
But Mick Hagan wasn't finished just yet
"Just to go back there for a second there. Through the chair, our county secretary sent out stuff looking for personnel to get involved in various sub-committees and I'd just like to query what response did we get?" Asked Mick Hagan.
"Three or four people," replied Chris O'Connor.
"In the whole county?" Asked Hagan.
The discussion moved on then, but Mick Hagan returned to the issue of his losing of the chairman position on the CCC fixtures committee.
"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Bridget on becoming the chairperson of the CCC. Certainly, I'm disappointed at being maybe demoted.
"Now, you are all aware Leinster have brought in proposals here and they've been working behind the scenes. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, through no cost to the County Board, we're led to believe that there's going to be a full-time person here (Ballinakill) to look after the fixtures - full-time and paid.
"Now, just from our own point of view, myself and Tom Byrne, we all know the work that goes on behind the scenes here with Michael Murphy, Chris O'Connor, Bridget and various CCC committees over the years, but certainly, going forward with this plan set by Leinster Council, both myself and Tom Byrne, this has left a very bad taste with us. We were asked for no input into what we'd like to see happen, no input in the wide, earthly world.
"We're not aware what myself or Tom, what role we are going to play in the CCC but we have to make that point, we were never contacted good, bad or indifferent," he said.
Martin Fitzgerald cut in at this point and reminded Mick Hagan that this issue was to do with the county review.
"I've already spoken to you about this, Michael. It's what the clubs want and it's what the clubs are getting. I would say that you are meeting tomorrow night, the CCC are meeting with Leinster to do with fixtures and you'll be there. Our hands are tied, Mick, as you know. The clubs proposed that this is the way it is to go and Leinster are implementing it, and our hands are tied," he said.
"But surely, through the chair, surely, out of courtesy we should have been asked for some small input in what we see wrong," said Mick Hagan.
"That's up to Leinster, it's nothing to do with us," replied Martin Fitzgerald.
Dunlavin's Jimmy Whittle asked if the person who was going to be appointed to look after fixtures was going to be from within the county or now.
County chairman Martin Fitzgerald said that the County Board didn't know.
"Is it advertised?" asked Whittle.
"No," replied Fitzgerald. "It's appointed, the same as Bryan Doyle was appointed," he added.
Victor O'Shaughnessy voiced severe criticism of Leinster Council for "disregarding" the experience of Mick Hagan and Tom Byrne.
"Chairman, with the experience that Mick Hagan and Tom Byrne and that committee have, I think it was terribly disingenuous of Leinster Council, or anyone else, to overlook that committee. It's absolutely disgraceful.
"Whether the clubs in this county want that or not, I don't know, Chairman. I think myself that the clubs in this county would want everyone involved in having a say on that committee. And to disregard those two people, or that committee, was an absolute disgrace by Leinster Council, that's what it was, Chairman, and nothing short of it," he said.
"That's not us, Victor," said Martin Fitzgerald. "We all know the experience that Tom Byrne and Mick Hagan have brought to the CCC for a long number of years," he added.
"It's up to the County Board, Mr Chairman, to point out that," said Victor O'Shaughnessy.
"It'll be pointed out tomorrow night (Tuesday)," said Martin Fitzgerald.
A delegate from the floor asked that when the new person in control of fixtures is appointed who will clubs approach to get a game called off.
"That'll be the person you approach," replied Martin Fitzgerald. "But there'll be no games called off. You'll get your fixture list. That'll be the person you talk to. It won't be anyone in the CCC, that'll be the person.
"And that's what the clubs want, clubs don't want games (called off). We're led to believe by what went in from clubs to the report (the county review) that clubs don't want games called off. I hope clubs adhere to it when they've got what they wanted now," he added.
"I know clubs mightn't want games called off," said the delegate, "but they might want games changed around, maybe between two local clubs. If two local clubs are playing each other, Mick (Hagan) or Tom (Byrne) would understand the history, that it mightn't be...how would you put it...mightn't be the friendliest that day, and leave it for another day," said the delegate.
"That will be within the regulations," said Martin Fitzgerald.
Jackie Napier reminded Martin Fitzgerald that the County Board are the clubs.
"That's correct," said Fitzgerald. "But it was the clubs who implemented this plan, not the people at the top table, we got no say in it, it was the clubs. Pat Gilroy's report came back with that, Jackie. We can't keep going on the way we are going on, going backwards, as we see at the moment. We have to change things around a bit and see will it work, because at the moment things are very poor in hurling and football," he added.
"Chairman, it's getting very embarrassing here with Mick Hagan and Tom Byrne here in the room," added Jackie Napier. "Are they on trial or something? Did they do something wrong?"
"Sorry, Jackie, we're moving on after this, but Mick Hagan brought it up himself so if it's embarrassing, he's embarrassing himself, right," said Martin Fitzgerald.