Sunday 21 October 2018

Horan hopes GAA can 'evolve'

Aogán Ó Fearghail gives his final speech as GAA president at yesterday’s annual Congress in Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Aogán Ó Fearghail gives his final speech as GAA president at yesterday’s annual Congress in Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

John Horan, the GAA's first native Dublin president in 96 years, spoke of a GAA being "not about a revolution but rather an evolution" as he formally began three years in office yesterday. The Na Fianna clubman, brought up "just a couple of pucks" from Croke Park, said that the GAA is "gradually evolving - and that is one of our great strengths".

Horan's remarks reflect an apologetic establishment line that probably pertained when the last Dubliner held that position but the GAA and the environment around it are constantly changing. For some, the GAA isn't responding quickly enough. For others, too quickly, with clubs campaigning for greater fixtures reform and stinging criticism of some commercial partnerships, notably the Sky TV rights deal.

Some of those issues won't unduly affect Horan's three years as they won't be up for review until after he leaves office. However, he took the opportunity to insist that the GAA will have clubs at the centre of its considerations, citing his intention to hold a national club forum where representatives will be invited to voice issues of concern.

"Crucially, clubs will get the opportunity to discuss the challenges and difficulties they face on the ground and hopefully lead to a climate of problem sharing and problem solving," he said.

Horan said he was concerned about growing elitism in under-age development squads and said he plans a review of that sector.

"These development squads, in my view, are starting too early and we need to row back from creating a level of elitism in young players which is unhealthy for our games," he said. "Elitism is a threat to our amateur status. The outgoing ard-stiúrthóir (Páraic Duffy) has exposed some stark realities in this regard, and I believe the answer to these questions rests - not with Croke Park - but with each and every one of the clubs who operate around the country."

He said fixtures reforms, of which players' group the CPA claims doesn't go far enough, were "designed with safeguarding our clubs and the interest and connection our players have with them".

Earlier, departing president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl spoke of the almost 500 clubs he visited in his time in office.

"They epitomise everything we represent," he said. "They provide an outlet to our communities that is impossible to put a price on."

He defended the GAA's record on raising finance, stressing that it was necessary to draw revenue from attendances, sponsorship and media rights to ensure the "ongoing growth of the GAA and help us to compete with professional sporting organisations that occupy the same communities we do".

He also said they had "started the process of examining and redistributing of our funds and this will continue. Equity and a GAA for all will continue to inspire where we invest our resources".

Sunday Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport