Fitzgerald stays at helm
GAA Wicklow County Convention
Wicklow GAA Chairman Martin Fitzgerald was returned uncontested to the post for a second year after the other name on the ballot, Michael Neary, was not in attendance on the night.
Fitzgerald gave a review of the year in his address to delegates and he appealed for GAA people in Wicklow to embrace change.
'Firstly, let me say it was a great honour to be your Chairman in the past year. The year started off very busy, with the O'Byrne Cup and league in the football, and the Kehoe Cup and Walsh Cup and league all starting in January,' said Martin Fitzgerald.
'John Evans assembled a very young panel of players in the O'Byrne Cup and league. Bad weather and lady luck didn't shine on them. The first round of the championship was played against Offaly and a young Wicklow team grew in stature and won the game in extra-time.
'Next up were the mighty Dubs. Wicklow played some excellent football against a very strong Dublin team. The atmosphere around Portlaoise that day was magic and gave a great lift to both clubs and supporters. We all looked forward to Cavan coming to Aughrim for the next championship match, but, unfortunately, that game turned out to be the most disappoint performance of the year.
'John Evans will continue as the Senior football manager for 2019 and I wish him and his backroom staff the best of luck for the season ahead.
'The hurlers players the Walsh Cup and were beaten by Carlow and Wexford. Our second string took part in the Kehoe Cup and were very unlucky to be beaten by Longford in the final. The team was very unlucky not to win the league this year and were beaten in the semi-final of the Christy Ring. On behalf of the Wicklow hurlers, the management and the Wicklow hurling community in general, and myself, I would like to thank Seamus Murphy and his backroom team for the hard work over the past two years, and I would like to wish Eamonn Scallan the best of luck in his reign as Wicklow hurling manager.
'For our underage teams, pride of place must go the Minor football team of 2018. We had great wins over Offaly and Meath on their way to the semi-final against Kildare. That Kildare game ended in a draw and, unfortunately, we were beaten in the replay. On behalf of the county management, I would like to thank the GCA, players, mentors, parents and managers of both hurling and football squads for their hard work during the year. I have no doubt the hard work and effort being put into underage teams will pay dividends for Wicklow in the future.
'The new under-20 competition honours our late President Peter Keogh and was a great success. Again, a chance for young players to have very competitive games.
'Since the foundation of the GAA, Wicklow has not contested a Leinster Senior football final. Delegates, it is time for change. We should back the Tier 2 proposal. This would give Wicklow the chance to play in Tier 1, and if beaten, enter a Tier 2 competition. We need our players playing competitive football in competitive games where they have a chance of winning.
'In the last year we implemented the Gilroy Report, and one big issue was club fixtures. A meeting in Tulfarris Hotel, where clubs met with Pat Gilroy and his committee, showed a general consensus that there was to be a change in match fixtures. Leinster Council asked Liam O'Neill to do a fixture plan, along with the CCC and Bridget Kenny. The plan was unveiled in Ballinakill in the spring. Wicklow clubs bought into this plan, and we'd like to thank them for that.
'Also, I would like to sincerely thank Bridget Kenny and the CCC for implementing the fixtures plan, in which the league was over before the championship started, and, as with all new plans, there were some minor problems with the CCC which will be addressed in 2019.
'A special word of thanks goes to the sponsors, from Go Games to the Senior championships. Unfortunately, we lost two great sponsors this year, Joule and WH Scott. I want to thank them sincerely for their great sponsorship. We now have a challenge to get new sponsors on board for 2019.
'I'd like to thank our referees, officials and all those who steward and look after our grounds and pitches. I'd like to thank our very hard-working sub-committees for their work during the year. I would especially like to thank our secretary Chris O'Connor. Chris is the heartbeat of Wicklow GAA, and if we hadn't Chris we would be in a bad state. Bridget Kenny, Alan Smullen, Martin Coleman, for all their advice during the year, they kept me going. And the members of the management committee for their hard work during the year.
'There is a number of people not standing for positions this year. I'd like to thank them sincerely for their work and wish them all the best in the future.
'Fellow delegates, I ask you to continue to embrace change within the county and the GAA, and work with management in a positive way to build the future of the GAA,' he added.