Chairman Tim Murphy's Report from County Convention
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir a Chairde – Tá fáilte roimh na h-oifigí agus na thoscairí chiug ár gCrinniú anocht.
Tonight marks the completion of my first year as Cathaoirleach of Coiste Chontae Chiarraí and the commencement of my second.
This last year has been incredibly busy, exciting, onerous, never dull but also enjoyable.
The Role and responsibilities of not only the Chairman but every County Board Officer has expanded immeasurably over the last number of years and as volunteers we need to ensure that all our officers at Club and County level are given every assistance possible to reduce and manage the workload.
I have ideas about how this can be achieved which I will outline later.
2017 was a year where Kerry won a fourth consecutive All Ireland minor Title in what was as complete a performance ever delivered by any team in Croke Park.
Huge Credit has to go Peter Keane and his management team but also to Coaching and Games in Kerry who have developed of our underage structures and overseen the Development squad model of improving all our players, a model which in my view will serve the County for many years to come.
We acknowledge the work of Donal Daly, all our GDA’s and Development squad managers along with former and current Coaching officer’s Éamonn Whelan and Terence Houlihan respectively.
The Kerry Juniors completed three in a row All Ireland titles and the Kerry U-21 hurlers won another All Ireland B title against Wicklow.
I would also like to make special mention to the Senior hurlers – This time last year I stood before you advising that we hoped to appoint a Senior hurling manager in the following few weeks.
We duly appointed Fintan O’ Connor who came on board on the understanding that this was work in progress to get a baseline established and build from there.
It was a difficult task for Fintan to come in at such a late stage but he has demonstrated great management skills and I’m confident that Kerry hurling will be well served in the next number of years with Fintan in Charge.
Close co-operation between team management, Clubs and the County Board will ensure that solid foundations are created with the objective of creating consistency and stability.
Our senior footballers won the Allianz League final against Dublin, Five in a Row Munster titles but unfortunately lost out to Mayo in the All Ireland Semi Final Replay.
Notwithstanding this, our Clubs and supporters seek and demand success at senior football level on a consistent basis and it is this desire for success in my view that distinguishes us from other Counties.
This constant desire for success underpins the greatness of Kerry football and will always ensure that we all aspire to the highest possible standards.
Without it, our Standards and drive to succeed might not be as strong.
On that note I again wish to sincerely thank all the delegates and Club officers who contacted me personally after the All Ireland Semi Final defeat against Mayo expressing their views and suggestions as to how we might best progress matters.
This open sense of communication is something I welcome and encourage as it enables me to articulate the Club and delegate views in all my conversations with the senior management.
As a county executive and management team our challenge is to channel this innate expectation for success into a formula that will ensure the undoubted talent we have had over recent years is integrated into the Senior team as quickly and seamlessly as possible, but always ensuring the development of these young players is protected at all times.
In this regard you will all be aware of the measures that have been taken over the last number of months to ensure the gaps in our set up are eliminated and to that end, we have agreed and put in place a 3 year programme of supports for the senior panel, with particular emphasis on player development and progression together with strength and conditioning.
The imminent completion of the Centre of Excellence in Currans will enable us to deliver these programmes within a state of the art facility in a co-ordinated and streamlined approach.
Joe O’ Connor has joined the team as Head of Athletic Development and Niall O’ Mahony joins as S & C Coach along with James Weldon of Fossa who also joins the set up.
I am confident that this will mark the start of a successful era for our senior footballers.
Over the past number of weeks and months I have said publically that I believe we are about to enter a new era in Kerry football and hurling.
I genuinely believe that Kerry is a unique GAA County in this Country, where everyone is rewarded for effort and ability in equal measure, both on and off the field.
S & C
I have already outlined the measures taken over the last number of months to ensure the gaps in our set up are eliminated by putting in place a 3 year programme of supports.
This programme will extend to all our intercounty teams and ultimately down to Development Squad level.
I believe what we have now started will again serve Kerry well into the future by ensuring we have fully integrated and streamlined S & C programmes for all our teams and development squads.
The Centre in Currans is finally going to become a reality.
Huge effort by many people has gone into this project to bring it to fruition.
We have advertised for a Venue Manager in recent weeks and the facility will become operational in early January.
Our vision for Currans is for it to become a Centre of best practice not only in coaching and training our teams but that the Medical, Physio and S & C elements of our set up and nurtured and promoted to be the very best.
Over time our plan is for the centre to become self sustaining and we are currently working on how this will be achieved.
Currans will facilitate collective thinking and expertise under one roof that will inevitably ensure that all our teams and players are given the very best chance of success.
Club Fixture Forum & County Player Availability
We held a Club fixture forum on 3rd November last to facilitate meaningful engagement between Clubs and County executive in relation to the new 2018 fixtures calendar.
A healthy and vibrant discussion took place and the issue of County players being available to play for their clubs was one of the key items highlighted.
The new Club Championship which will now be played in April and early May will facilitate the availability of County players to their respective Clubs.
It will always be a difficult task to successfully align the needs of Senior management and those of the Club but we are committed to achieving this in as far as practicable.
I think that the new fixtures programme will assist us greatly and I would ask all Clubs to work with us in endeavouring to achieve a mutually acceptable result.
There has been much talk over the past number of years about the AFL and their scouts poaching our players.
I have been consistent in my view that as an organisation the GAA can never compete with professional sport – it is simply not possible.
What we can do is endeavour to create as attractive an environment as possible here at home and convey to our players the benefits of remaining in Ireland while also assisting them with educational opportunities, career advice and enhanced employment prospects.
I am happy to advise that the ad hoc committee set up this year has worked well and it came as a great boost in October when David Clifford confirmed that he was committed to Kerry for at least 2018.
I hope to formalise this committee next year and ensure that any other players considering a move are given the benefit of choosing an attractive alternative to remain at home.
New Kerry Jersey
As part of our overall vision for the future we believe the Kerry Jersey to be an integral part of our proud football history and tradition which inherently reflects who we are as a people and what we stand for.
A number of different people approached me early this year asking that I look at the issue of number visibility on the Jersey.
As most people now know I invited one of our former greats – Paul Galvin to work with O’Neill’s in designing an authentic Jersey reflective of this tradition while also addressing the visibility issue.
I am happy that this has been achieved and its success is reflected in positive public commentary and indeed sales.
As soon as the Allianz League starts in January we will see if the number visibility issue has been adequately addressed but I am confident that it will.
On behalf of everyone associated with Kerry GAA I wish to sincerely thank Paul for his expertise and input.
Facilities & Infrastructure
The past five years have seen the largest investment in facilities and infrastructure in our Counties history.
I have already mentioned Currans and but it’s important to say that the project was a significant undertaking by any standards and will leave us with a substantial debt which has been outlined in the financial report.
The IT Tralee Project is also currently underway and is due to be completed by the end of next year.
Austin Stack Park Tralee
As everyone here tonight knows the Board has made a significant investment in Austin Stack Park over the past while.
Over €1m has been expended on the facility and the new Committee under the Chairmanship of Tony O’ Keeffe and Secretary Éamonn O’ Sullivan are also working on a longer term strategic plan for the development of the Stadium.
The hosting of both the Mayo and Dublin league games respectively in Tralee under lights proved to be a huge success and underpins our commitment to Austin Stack Park.
The carnival like atmosphere on both nights was commented upon by many and despite reservations from some quarters surrounding the capacity of the Stadium both nights proved to be a fantastic success.
In 2018 Galway will play in ASP on Sunday 25th February 2018 while Kildare will play there under lights on St. Patrick’s night.
We look forward to many more big games and events there over the coming years.
The investment we made has been acknowledged by the Town and reciprocated accordingly.
Such initiatives and collaboration are to be encouraged.
Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney
Very Significant monies have been expended in Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney over the past number of years.
Unfortunately Irelands’ bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023 was as we all know unsuccessful and will have an obvious negative impact on the immediate development of stadium.
Notwithstanding this however the Board is committed to developing the Stadium in a carefully planned and controlled manner at all times being cognisant of Finances.
The Fitzgerald Stadium Committee under the Chairmanship of Der Brosnan and the Finance committee under the Chairmanship of Maurice O’ Donoghue are an example to all of us as to what can be achieved when a collective effort is made.
The Stadium Committee run an extremely efficient operation and the finance committee have attracted many new members to join the scheme which in turn goes to paying down the current debt.
The development of Fitzgerald Stadium is in my view of Strategic importance to the entire South West of the Country and something that we in Kerry GAA or the National GAA cannot achieve on our own.
If our country is serious about hosting a Rugby World Cup or similar event in the Future now in the time to start investing in the Stadia upgrades.
On that note I would call on Government to realise the importance of this very necessary development and our as Úachtarán - Aogáin O’ Fearaghail has stated recently there is strong case for the level of funding that was promised by government to continue regardless of the unsuccessful bid.
We will continue to work with Croke Park to secure this much needed funding required for our Stadia. Without any significant investment by Government it will simply not be possible.
Finance & Fundraising
It is important to say from the outset that as an executive we are committed to providing everything reasonably expected in the preparation of our County Teams.
Finance is a fundamental component to the smooth operation of the Board and having a properly resourced office is integral in achieving this.
This year I instigated dramatic Changes to our Finance Committee and broke with tradition by appointing two people from outside the executive as Chairperson and Secretary of the Finance committee.
The appointment of Michael John Kearney from Castleisland Desmonds as Chairman and Maureen O’ Shea from Ballymacelligott as Secretary has proven to be a great success.
Furthermore the appointment of Eileen Hartnett as our financial controller was also a key appointment and freed up more time for our treasurer – Weeshie Lynch in being able to focus on strategic financial planning and decision making.
As everyone here tonight has seen Finance is an area that needs constant attention as the demands are high.
Not only have we added new people outside of the executive to the finance committee we have also introduced procedures for cash collection, ticket payment, etc. and will continue to develop these processes over the coming year.
The end result is that we will have a smooth running operation befitting Kerry GAA and one that serves all our Clubs well.
These processes I believe will ensure that a basic, efficient and fully functioning finance department within the board has been created with continuity and delivery of service achieved irrespective of who holds office at a given time.
For me an obvious lesson from this year is that we should embrace the opportunity of introducing expertise from the outside when we can. It serves two purposes in my view;
(1)A wealth of objective financial expertise is introduced
(2)The workload of our Volunteers is reduced and allows more time to focus on key future financial strategies.
In that regard it is my intention to have a Commercial Body appointed and fully operational by the end of 2018.
This body will assist both the executive and finance committee in advancing our commercial strategy, maximising our brand and maximising the commercial opportunities available.
It will comprise of senior ranking business people either from Kerry or with strong links to Kerry who will give freely of their time and expertise.
I am very conscious of the financial burdens our Clubs face and I would hope that this body in conjunction with our finance and fundraising committees would be able to identify alternative revenue streams that will not impact on you - the Clubs of Kerry and over time develop a sustainable funding model for the Board.
As Weeshie has outlined in the financial report our fundraising efforts for Capital Development have been impressive over the past number of years particularly the International fundraising drive.
Nonetheless we will still have a significant long term loan that will need to be managed carefully and prudently over the next number of years.
We will also have the additional financial burden of operating the Currans facility and while there will be savings and economies of Scale when complete there will still be a deficit to be made up.
The time has now come to identify a new source of revenue as Weeshie has mentioned – How that will manifest itself remains to be seen but we are meeting on Thursday next to commence this process.
As always, the Paradox is to ensure our teams are given every opportunity to be the best they can while being financially prudent at the same time.
International Fundraising for Currans
To date Kerry GAA have Netted €1.475 from International Fundraising which includes Dublin also.
One of the primary objectives of the Board is to create a sustainable funding model – both internationally for Capital Infrastructure and elsewhere in the form of local and national funding initiatives. I see the formation of the commercial body mentioned previously as being central in achieving this.
Having been to the US and UK this year and speaking with the key people there it became apparent to me that as a board we need to be very careful not to endanger this avenue of fundraising by overexerting such a valuable source of income.
It is for this reason that no International Fundraising took place in 2017.
In this regard it is felt that such fundraising activities should take place every two to three years to ensure continuity is maintained.
International Fundraising initiatives are planned for 2018 in Dublin, London and New York respectively.
All our funding and banking facilities are based on this model.
Here in Kerry we are very fortunate to have Kerry Group as our sponsor.
Their global success, through commitment and hard work, mirrors our quest for sporting excellence on the field of play.
As a County Executive it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that we are as professional as we can be and operate the board to the highest possible standards.
I wish to thank Kerry Group, in particular Frank Hayes – Director of Corporate Affairs with whom I have worked closely over the past 12 months and who has been a huge help to me.
I also wish to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank Stan McCarthy who recently stepped down as Kerry Group CEO after an incredible 10 years at the helm.
Finally, I wish the new CEO – Edmond Scanlon all the very best in his new role - we are truly fortunate to have another Kerry man leading our Global sponsor.
Mar Cathoirleach Coiste Chontae Chiarraí bheadh sé faillíoch dom gan cúpla focail a rá faoi Vince Linnane a fuair bháis i mbliana.
Two days after our win over Dublin in the Allianz League Final we lost our long time friend - Vincent Linnane.
Vince was first and foremost a family man but outside of his family Vince’s heart and soul lay in Austin Stack Park. He developed a deep love and affinity with the stadium over many years and he has been the one constant at all stages of its development.
The recent upgrade works on the pitch, the lighting and the Pavilion enhancement gave Vince a tremendous personal sense of satisfaction and pride in the stadium and I know he was extremely proud after the successful hosting of Mayo & Dublin in the Allianz League in the spring.
Vince’s involvement with teams began in 1993 with Charlie Nelligan and by degrees Vince became the Kit man responsible for all Kerry’s Intercounty teams.
The fact that Vince was so immersed in the GAA means that we can sometimes overlook the person and the personal traits and characteristics that he had.
Anyone that knew Vince will know that the he did not suffer fools gladly and as I said at his funeral mass he will forgive me in suggesting that he had a ferocious stubborn streak.
Personally I think this was one of the reasons why he was so endearing to so many people.
I recall one night last February in ASP when Kerry were training. The weather was a little inclement and the lads had set up Cones to do some drills in front of the goals.
Vince duly spotted these and proceeded onto the pitch asking politely that the cones be moved to the side-line to minimise damage to the surface.
The request appeared to be falling on deaf ears so Vince turned on his heels and proceeded back towards the stand. As he did one of the lads called after Vince saying “Where are you going Vince”.
Vince kept walking and slightly turning his head replied “To turn off the lights”.
Needless to say the cones were swiftly relocated to the side line.
In the dressing room, Vince faded into the background - He was there, was but wasn’t there.
His ability to be extremely efficient at what he did yet go unnoticed was one of the factors that made him so popular with players and management alike.
The status and respect that Vince was held in by past and present players was reflected after his death in a variety of platforms – Print media, radio and numerous social media outlets.
For me Dara O’ Cinnéide’s piece in the Irish Examiner summed it up when he said;
“Vince was Unique. He did his own thing, did it in his own way, and always got it done”.
I’m sure there are people like Vince in every other County, and in every Stadium in Ireland, but he was ours”
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam
Executive – Old and New
Tonight sees a number of changes to the County executive, both positional changes and new appointments.
Joe Crowley and Christy Killeen vacate their positions as Munster Council delegates as a result of the five year rule. Both men have been outstanding servants to Kerry GAA not only as Munster Council delegates but in carrying out the other duties asked of them. Heartfelt thanks to both of ye.
Paudie Dineen vacates the position of Assistant treasurer and takes up the role of hurling officer. Thank you Paudie for all your endeavours over the past four years – in particular your role in taking control and managing the Gear for all our teams – it has been outstanding. I know you will do a great job in your new role as hurling officer.
Ger McCarthy vacates the Hurling Officer position and takes over as Munster Council Delegate – again thank you Ger for all you have done over the past 5 years in promoting the Game of hurling and best of luck in your new role.
Tonight marks the end of John O’ Leary’s tenure as Kerry’s PRO, a position he has held for the past 5 years.
I think that John deserves special mention for the manner and level of professionalism he brought to the Role. I have seen firsthand the time that he dedicates to this role and it equates to a full time job for most people.
His PR and communication abilities have been remarked upon by local and national media as being among the best in the country and this has been widely acknowledged over the weekend also.
On behalf of every Kerry Gael at home and abroad I wish to acknowledge and thank John for his contribution to Kerry. I am delighted that he is taking up the position of Munster Council Delegate and I know he will bring his expertise to bear in many other areas of the Boards operation over the coming years. Míle Buíochas John.
Leona Twiss vacates the position of Cultural officer and takes up the very onerous officer role of PRO. Leona has proven herself to be a fantastic officer and has been responsible for many aspects of the Boards media operations including liaising with our associate sponsors and developing the social media dimension of Kerry GAA.
Leona has all the attributes to be a fantastic PRO and we wish her all the very best in her new role.
Stephen O’ Sullivan from Gneeveguilla has decided to step down as Assistant Secretary due to work commitments. Stephen has been responsible for developing Kerry GAA TV which has been very well received by all.
Kerry GAA TV benefits supporters and Clubs alike by giving an online forum in the promotion of various initiatives. Thank you Stephen for all you have contributed to Kerry GAA.
Tonight we welcome a new officer on Board. Fionnán Fitzgerald from Ballymacelligott takes over from Stephen as Assistant Secretary.
It’s always good to be welcoming a new member onto the executive and in a County like Kerry new blood is a must if we are to remain on top.
Fionnán worked closely with Stephen over the past year and I have no doubt that he will continue the work started by Stephen and bring his own mark to bear on the position.
This time last year I stood before you and stated that my challenge was to convince as many people as I can including the County Executive, you as Club officers and delegates and the wider GAA Community in Kerry that the aims and visions I have in mind for our county are indeed the best direction in which to move towards.
Over the past few weeks I tried to find a quote that sums up where I believe we now are and where we are going.
I found a quote from Francis of Assisi and it goes as follows;
“Start by doing what’s necessary;
Then do what’s possible;
And suddenly you are doing the impossible”
In the year to date I believe we have implemented the following which was necessary;
•Set up a new Finance committee with external voluntary expertise and processes to improve efficiency
•Employed a Financial Controller to further resource the accounts office
•Set up an Ad hoc Committee to deal with the AFL targeting our players
•Took ownership of our Jersey and addressed the issue of number visibility
•Put in place the 3 year programme of supports with particular emphasis on player development and progression together with strength and conditioning
•Assisted both the Austin Stack Park & Fitzgerald Stadium Committees in developing both stadiums in as far as possible but within our financial capacity
As I outlined this time last year I see my role as giving the best Leadership I can;
Theodore Hesburgh - Former president of Notre Dame University said the following on Leadership;
“The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision…”
For the Coming year my vision is to achieve the following;
•Further develop and encourage communication links with our Clubs
•Give each and every one of our County Teams the best possible chance of success by providing all the resources necessary for success in a prudent manner.
•Foster and Develop our medical, Physio and S & C programmes into the very best in the country from Senior football and hurling right down to U-14 development squad level. No different to Finance this will ensure streamlined and joined up thinking and protect the future development of our players and coaches by having a fully functional highly motivated team irrespective of who happens to hold a managerial position.
•Complete and publish our 3 year Strategic Plan by June 2018
•Develop our Finance Committee further this year and aim to be the best we can be
•Set up a voluntary commercial body by year end comprising of successful Kerry people from the Corporate and business world who will give freely of their time and expertise in assisting us as an executive with Financial Strategy, Commercial Fundraising and the like.
•Maximise funding opportunities
•Identify and Encourage external people and expertise to get involved at all levels
•Further develop a Team ethic within the executive and the County Committee in general and try to get “Buy In” from all.
I will need everybody’s help and assistance if this is to be achieved.
Finally & to conclude I wish to sincerely thank all my fellow officers in particular Peter for all the help, assistance and encouragement they have given me throughout the year.
To Breda, Kate, Eileen and Aileen in the office – a huge thank you for all the support you have given me during my first year as Chairman.
To my wife, Emer and family for their understanding and encouragement.
Also to the many Club officers and delegates who have been very supportive at various stages throughout the past year.
Our association is facing many challenges in the years ahead, both at Club and County level - The challenges are manifest in a variety of forms but all involve Change.
I am confident that collectively we will successfully adapt to this change.
I’ll finish with a Quote from Winston Churchill which I think is appropriate for us at this time in Kerry GAA;
“Success is not Final, Failure is not fatal,
It is the Courage to continue that counts”
Go Raibh Maith agaibh go léir,