Sports

Tommy Byrne Lands Chairman Role After Landslide Victory

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tommy Byrne Lands Chairman Role After Landslide Victory thumbnailNewly elected Offaly GAA Chairman, Tommy Byrne.

GRACEFIELD'S Tommy Byrne is the new Chairman of Offaly GAA after he came through a three way vote with Tullamore's Fergal McKeown and Tubber's Joe Higgins at the Offaly GAA Convention held in O'Connor Park last Tuesday week.

With 131 votes on offer, Byrne returned over 60 percent of the vote with 80 first preference votes to exceed the quota on the first count. Fergal McKeown came in next with 27 votes while Joe Higgins had 24.

It was a convincing victory for Byrne who now steps into the Chairman's berth for his second stint having previously served as Chairman in 2003 and 2004. With his election to the chair, the Gracefield man also made history by becoming the first person to hold the position of chairman on two different occasions since Sean Robbins who was in the Chair in 1926 and 1927 and again from 1935 to 1942.

Mr Byrne had been the secretary of the County board for the last four years and he is the only person to have held the position of Chairman and Secretary of Offaly GAA.

Speaking after his election, Mr Byrne commented, 'this is my second time around and I didn't do such a great job the first time around to be honest but I have learned a lot since. I have probably got a bit calmer. It has been a hard four years and it is now becoming a very hard job to do for people with day jobs.

'With me, what you see is what you get. I am available to talk to anyone at virtually anytime, if I don't answer the phone, I will ring you back.

'I would like to commiserate with Joe and Fergal. We can see by the turnout here tonight that there is a huge interest as to who takes on different positions in Offaly. It is not an easy thing to do to put your head up because you could get knocked down very quick.

'Thanks to everyone involved here tonight. It is an honour to be chairman of this County Board. I think we are on the rise. Certainly off the field, we have got things in place but now we need to get an upward rise on the field and I think that is starting to happen. It is harder and harder to get up with the top counties but there is no point in using the excuse that we are a small County, we just have to make the best use of the resources that we have.

'I hope that the County will unite behind myself and the next 12 or 13 people that are going to be elected. They play a part every day in the association. The job is getting bigger and it can't be done by a small number of people.'

Finally, the incoming Chairman paid tribute to the man he replaced, Ferbane's Padraig Boland who stepped down after four years in the job.

'We are very opposite in the way we go about thing but we managed to come to a consensus without ever falling out. I would like to compliment him on his time as Chairman and as vice Chairman. Some things go unnoticed and negotiations for different projects can take place behind the scenes.

'He has had a huge input into negotiations into the acquiring of the land for the Faithful Fields and into us receiving €100,000 from the West Offaly development fund. Neither would have gone as smoothly without his political knowledge. It is something he has never got credit for.'

There is also a new secretary with Durrow's Eamonn Cusack taking on the role, replacing Tommy Byrne. Mr Cusack was elected un-opposed. The only other new face is in the form of St Brigid's Laz Molloy who was elected as a Leinster Council representative. The positions of PRO and Coaching Officer have been deferred to the January meeting of the County Board and nominations for these roles are now being sought.

The full list of officers is as follows; Chairman Tommy Byrne; Vice Chairman Joe Higgins; Secretary Eamon Cusack, Assistant Secretary Mary Dunne; Treasurer Jimmy Hogan; Assistant Treasurer Martin Boland; PRO Vacant; Central Council delegate Pat Teehan; Leinster Council delegates Joe O'Brien and Laz Molloy; Development officer James Murphy; Cultural officer Damien Martin; Coaching officer Vacant; Children's officer Dolores Slevin; Congress delegates Tommy Byrne, Eamon Cusack, Joe O'Brien and Ollie Daly; Leinster Convention delegates Tommy Byrne, Eamon Cusack, Eamon Flynn and James Murphy.

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