AN influential group has come together to seek change in the Offaly GAA County Board and the way the GAA is run in the county. The group met in Tullamore's Central Hotel last week and it is understood that a number of individuals pledged to put their name forward for officer's roles at the Offaly GAA Convention later this year.
The gathering included a broad spectrum of the Offaly GAA community from all parts of the county and they have also sought a meeting with Offaly GAA chairman Tommy Byrne to discuss issues that arose. Present at the meeting were club chairmen and other officers, Offaly football and hurling heroes from the past and other influential people, who have been immersed in the GAA throughout their life.
The group was remaining tight lipped about their intentions on Tuesday, confirming that they would be seeking to meet with Tommy Byrne and other officers but making no other comment about their intentions and the reasons for the meeting.
It is believed that close to fifty people attended the meeting. A spokesman confirmed that they have asked Tommy Byrne to meet with a representative group from the meeting. The representative group includes former Offaly and St Rynagh's hurler and footballer and RTE analyst, Michael Duignan, who now lives in the Durrow area; long serving Edenderry GAA officer and a former chairman there, Colm Cummins, who previously ran for position on the County Board; Offaly and Birr hurling legend, Brian Whelahan; former Rhode and Offaly footballer, Stephen Darby, an All-Ireland senior football medalist in 1982 and Dervill Dolan, a well known Clara GAA activist and a long serving independent member of Offaly County Council before standing down at this May's elections.
A statement was issued on behalf of the group on Tuesday, which confirmed:
“A group of GAA people held a meeting last week to discuss the future of Offaly GAA and it was agreed as a matter of courtesy to request a meeting with Tommy Byrne, Chairman of Offaly GAA County Board, to discuss issues raised at that meeting. We have asked the chairman of the County Board to meet a representative group from that meeting including Michael Duignan, Colm Cummins, Brian Whelehan, Stephen Darby and Dervill Dolan and we are awaiting confirmation for that meeting at the moment.”
Tommy Byrne told the Tribune on Tuesday that he was willing to meet with the representatives and the Offaly GAA Management Committee would select other people to accompany him.
Asked for his views on a meeting of this nature being convened, Mr Byrne said: “We can do nothing to stop anyone meeting but Conventions and County Board meetings are where decisions are made. If people want to contest positions, that is up to themselves. I don't know what was talked about, we will have to wait and see.”
While contests at Convention are almost certain to emerge from this development, the group don't want it to be acrimonious and want to ackowledge the good work done by the County Board. They are keen to improve the GAA in the county and will put forward a number of suggestions and plans.
The meeting was primarily called to outline the dissatisfaction of people at the performance of Offaly's intercounty teams in both codes and concern was expressed about the way the Offaly GAA County Board operate.
It is understood that a general discussion took place about underage structures, the performance of county teams, having county hurling games in Birr and other issues.