Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 19 March 2018

One-horse race

This medal is worn by the president of the GAA. As of now Liam O’Neill is the ONLY candidate for one of the most prestigious positions inIrish sport

M Breheny

IT'S one of the most prestigious positions in Irish life and is due to be filled next April, but so far it has attracted only one applicant.

With the vote for president-elect of the GAA only seven months away, feverish activity might be expected as candidates positioned themselves for the challenge, but Liam O'Neill (Laois) is the only candidate who has confirmed that he will be in the race.

O'Neill, a former Leinster Council chairman and current chairman of the Coaching and Games Development Committee, was runner-up to Christy Cooney in the last election in 2008.

He immediately announced his intention to run again in 2011 and is now working towards becoming the first Laois president since Robert O'Keeffe served in 1935-38.

"I said at the time that I'd be running again in 2011 and haven't deviated from that. I'm giving it all my energies," said O'Neill, who lost by 60 votes to Cooney (172-112), with Tipperary's Sean Fogarty in third place on 26.

Con Hogan (Tipperary), Sheamus Howlin (Wexford) and Tom Daly (Donegal) are regarded as the other main contenders, but all are maintaining a low profile, for the present at least. Hogan -- a former Tipperary chairman and a current GAA trustee -- said that he wouldn't announce his intentions for another few weeks.

Daly, a former Ulster chairman, gave a similar response while Howlin, the current Leinster chairman, said he thought it would be inappropriate to comment until after the All-Ireland football final.

"Christy (Cooney) still isn't halfway through his term so I don't think it would be right to say anything about the presidency until he has presented the All-Ireland senior cups for the second time. Besides, I'm very busy with Leinster -- but I will be stating my position in due course," said Howlin.

There were three candidates for the presidency in 2008, while it was a straight head-to-head between Cooney and Nickey Brennan in 2005, with the Kilkenny man winning 171-154.

Voting will take place at the GAA Congress in Mullingar next April, with the winner serving as president-elect for a year prior to taking over from Cooney in 2012.

Irish Independent

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