Friday 17 November 2017

Everything you need to know about new GAA president-elect John Horan

John Horan, Leinster Council chairman, watches proceedings during the 2017 GAA Annual Congress at Croke Park, in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
John Horan, Leinster Council chairman, watches proceedings during the 2017 GAA Annual Congress at Croke Park, in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

It really is a great time for Dublin GAA, on and off the pitch.

Jim Gavin and his relentlessly ambitious football squad continue to set – and reach – new targets; the hurlers’ stabilised the early season with a win over Cork in Páirc Ui Rinn last Saturday and remain optimistic for the coming season and beyond.

Tomorrow afternoon Cuala are bidding to reach the All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final for the first time and now the entire county can look forward to having one of its own sitting in the President’s chair between 2018 and 2021.

John Horan’s rise to the most prestigious administrative position in Irish sport has been unusually quick. Unlike the four rivals he beat in tonight’s election, he never served as county chairman but established a high profile through his involvement with schools and coaching.

He ran for vice-chairman of the Leinster Council in 2008 but lost by a vote to Martin Skelly, one of last night’s beaten candidates. Elected vice-chairman three years later, Horan took over as provincial chairman in 2014, completing his term last month before concentrating on the Presidential contest.

He now begins a year as President-Elect prior to taking over from Aogán O Fearghaill next February, when he will become the first President from Dublin since Dr. JJ Stuart in 1958-61.

As with previous Presidents-elect, he will keep a relatively low-profile for the next year, but judging from his comments over recent months, he has a clear vision of how he will proceed once he settles into his office in Croke Park.

A major analysis of the GAA at all levels it likely to be among his top priorities, having recently pointed out that one hadn’t been carried out since the 2002 Strategic Review, undertaken at the behest of then President, Seán McCague.

Horan, who is principal of St.Vincent’s secondary school in Glasnevin, has also identified club activity (he is a member of Na Fianna)  as a priority. The plight of club players, many of whom are left without a structured fixtures schedule during the summer months, is now very much on the agenda and will still be there when Horan takes over next year.

When asked late last year after his Presidential candidacy was announced if he thought he would win, he replied: “Well, I’m not running to be beaten and I’m not running to have a second run (in 2020) either.”

Tonight, Congress delegates decided that his time had come.

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