By Vincent Beach
This year’s USGAA (governing body of the United States Gaelic Athletic Clubs outside of New York) Convention is to be held in the central location of Chicago on January 30th. Due to the pandemic, only the chairperson and secretary of each division will be present, along with the current sitting USGAA Board. As approved by Croke Park, there will be no motions, but the officers are up for election.
Across the country, each club will submit their votes to the divisional secretaries. Those votes will then be carried to the Convention. Votes will be accumulated based on each Club’s first choice, second choice, and third choice if necessary, so elections can be finalized on the day. As seen below, some nominations may be removed as voting progresses.
At the chairperson position, Bernie Connaughton of the Shannon Blues Club (Northeast GAA) runs unopposed. At the vice-chairperson, incumbent John Young of the Pittsburgh Celtics Club (Midwest) runs against Paul Keane of St. Joseph’s (Western). The secretary position was held by Paul Keane, but the five-year term limit was reached. There are three candidates for the position: Tom Lagan of the Tacoma Rangers (Northwest), Tracey Rivera of Na Fianna (Southwest), and Tim Flanagan of the Buffalo Fenians (Midwest).
At the treasurer’s position, Tom Walsh of the Denver Gaels (Western) runs unopposed and will retain his position. Tom Lagan of Tacoma will also face Paul Keane of St. Joseph’s in a bid to retain his registrar’s position. Because voting occurs starting at the highest position (chairperson) and works its way down, the registrar’s position may be vacant if both Tom and Paul win positions above, it may be uncontested if one of them wins a higher position, or it may be hotly contested.
The public relations officer sees incumbent Caoimhe Butler of the Young Islanders (Philadelphia) run against former PRO Rory O’Donnell of the Connemara Gaels (Northeast), and Mary Ruane of St. Brigid’s (Central). Paul Mulcaire of Buffalo Hurling Club (Midwest) runs unopposed for the youth officer position and Paddy McDevitt of the Donegal Club (Northeast) will remain the Central Council Delegate.
A little bit on the structure of the GAA to understand the role of the Central Council delegate: The GAA has a Congress every year akin to an annual general meeting, where rules changes are debated and voted upon, as well as the president (An tUachtarán) every three years. In the time between congresses, the Central Council (Ard Chomharile) is the governing body with representatives from every county (of which the USGAA are a county).
The other counties include: 32 in Ireland, New York, Britain, USGAA, Australia, Canada, Asia, Middle East, and Europe. The Central Council will endorse proposals from the Management Committee that do not require a vote from Congress. The Management Committee of the GAA is chaired by An tUachtarán and consists of fifteen members, including the provincial chairpersons of Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, and Munster.
For elected boards, working down from Central Council are the Provincial Councils, then County Boards, to Divisional Boards, to Club Boards. Not all counties have divisional boards, but the USGAA and some larger counties (Cork and Tipperary for example) will divide the county into subsections for management purposes.
Back to the Midwest, the Youth Board is planning for weekend tournaments throughout the year: Detroit in June, the Philadelphia Liberty Bell and Continental Youth Championships (CYC’s) hosted by Chicago in July, and the Midwest Final (location TBD) in August.
For the Adults, the USGAA finals will be in Boston in August. The Finals are not expected to be on Labor Day for many years to come. As a note, Chicago will host 2022 and the Southwest 2023.
On these dark winter evenings as we await the thawing of the field and the return of the sun, I wanted to share some good GAA reading materials to get the head right! I just finished up Until Victory Always, a memoir by Jim McGuinness. McGuinness was coach and manager for the County Donegal Senior Football team (men’s) from 2010 to 2014, winning Sam McGuire in 2012. The book weaves between those years and McGuinness’s upbringing in Glenties, school, family, and his own football success. McGuinness holds a sports-psychology degree, and the book will leave you motivated to train for the upcoming season.
A few other recommendations from earlier readings: The Club by Christy O’Connor will ring home for many USGAA members as O’Connor takes us through the day-to-day struggles of the 2009 Clare County St. Joseph’s Doora-Barefield GAA, from their high of All Ireland Club Champions, to the lows of regulation. Another earlier read: The Pursuit of Perfection, The Life, Death, and Legacy of Cormac McAnallen, by Dónal McAnallen. The memoir is written by Cormac’s brother and is a touching tale of family and the GAA as Cormac’s sudden death from an undetected heart condition has led to worldwide awareness.
Up next in Tigh Beach (the Beach family house) is Relentless, The Inside Story of the Cork Ladies Footballers, by Mary White. This one takes us through the rise of the senior team from 2005 to 2106, when Cork had won ten of eleven All-Ireland titles. I am looking forward to this one and the forward by Brian Cody.
Happy reading and self-training. Stay safe, stay fit, and stay tuned!
Go raibh míle maith agaibh
(Thanks y’all) to our readers and supporters. We need your help and involvement, but would most like to share the fun of Irish sport and Cleveland community with you. Consider getting involved at any level.
Fáilte (welcome) to all. The Gaelic Athletic Association is Ireland’s largest sporting organization and a bit of home for the Irish abroad here in the US of A. Beyond sports, the Association also promotes Irish music, song and dance, and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. Cleveland GAA is open to all who want to play competitive sports, meet new people, and join an athletic, fitness-minded club for all ages.
Follow @ClevelandGaelic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the 2020 activities for Men, Women, and Youth, or visit ClevelandGAA.com.
*Vincent Thomas Francis Xavier Beach is a proud Greater Clevelander and emigrant of Michigan. He joined the St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club in 1999 and, with much help, is the current caretaker of the Cleveland GAA. His Irish is a cross of dialects from the University of Cincinnati and An Cheathrú Rua. With his wife, Michelle, he enjoys watching time absolutely fly by as their children, Ambrose (11), Bernadette (9), and Cedric (6), grow. His other hustles are coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, and slangin’ some engineering skills on local concrete and pipe projects.