Friday 19 January 2018

Cross-country revamp to dominate AAI Congress

A revamp of cross-country running is up for debate
A revamp of cross-country running is up for debate
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

AS revealed by the Irish Independent, the board of Athletics Ireland (AAI) is recommending that the national inter-club and inter-county cross-country championships be amalgamated into one competition.

Confirmation of the motions for Congress later this month indicate that the debate on the timing and format of the cross-country season will dominate proceedings. Cork have submitted a similar motion to amalgamate the two competitions and a separate one looking for a complete "root and branch" examination of the whole cross-country area.

Galway are suggesting that any post-Christmas cross-countries (inter-clubs and masters/intermediates) are finished by February and also want the inter-clubs be reconstituted as a four-division event with built-in promotion/ relegation.

Among the most interesting motions about juvenile competition is one from Meath to allow two false starts in U-12 to U-15 competitions.

Offaly have submitted a motion that AAI's high-performance committee should stick with the IAAF/EAA standards for international qualification, while Leitrim will propose that any variation from those should need approval from the full board of AAI and not just the high-performance committee.

As always the three Ms – money, motions and membership (of the association and committees) – will create most interest at the first Congress since 2012, which takes place in Cork on April 26/27.

AAI's total expenditure during 2013 was €4.39m (up from €3.86m in 2012) and their income of €4.38m left just a deficit of €6,657.

The Sports Council still provide AAI's majority funding, grant-aiding €1.75m in 2013, down from €1.88m in 2012. Wages accounted for €1.19m (up from €1.09m in 2012) of expenditure and AAI's staff, which lost two jobs in 2013, is currently 28 with no planned redundancies for 2014.

Membership of the association has increased by 20,000 over the past five years to 49,542, up 7,000 in the past year alone, and they now have 312 registered clubs.

The biggest growth is in juvenile members (from 19,000 in 2009 to 29,492 now) and Masters (from 6,509 to 14,000 in the past five years), while the rates of increase in junior (from 297 to 533) and senior (from 3,474 to 5,485) membership in the same period are not as dramatic.

There will be few elections needed as most of the incumbents remain, but Ferrybank's Brid Golden is set to take over as head of high performance as she is unopposed for the vacancy left by Ray Flynn, who is one of three candidates (with Tom Clinton and Eamon Harvey) to replace Jim Kidd as chair of coaching & development.

The number of registered members per county correlates to their voting strength at Congress; the top 10 (members/votes at Congress) are: 1 Dublin (7113/72), 2 Cork (5852/59), 3 Meath (3619/37), 4 Galway (3485/35), 5 Tipperary (2625/27), 6 Kildare (2207/23), 7 Louth (2092/21), with 20 votes each for Wicklow (1958), Donegal (1923) and Kilkenny (1990).

At home, the big event this weekend is Sunday's national Road Race Relays in Raheny (2.0-4.0) while, across the water, Mo Farah's attempt to break the British record of 2:07.13 on his full debut will attract attention for the London Marathon.

Irish Independent

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