THE Offaly GAA Convention on December 10 will be the most interesting for years as the race for chairperson has hotted up in recent weeks.
The nominations for positions closed last week and as announced, Durrow's Michael Duignan is challenging the incumbent Tommy Byrne (Gracefield) for chairperson. A former Offaly and St Rynagh's hurler and footballer, Duignan announced his candidancy after a somewhat contersial meeting in Tullamore a few weeks ago – following the gathering of former county and club players, club officers and interested people and supporters, it was decided to contest a number of positions on the County Board and to seek a “new direction and vision” for the GAA in the county.
Edenderry's Colm Cummins and Clara's Dervill Dolan and Brian Gavin also decided to contest positions in the wake of that meeting. Cummins has put his name forward for vice chairman against the incumbent, Kilcormac/Killoughey's Niall Gleeson. In a surprise development, Rhode's James Murphy has also been nominated for vice chair – it is believed that he will stand and this throws an intriguing extra spanner into the works. Murphy is currently the board's development officer, a position that is filled at a County Board meeting on a recommendation from the chairperson, along with Coiste na nOg chairperson and children's officer – Tullamore's Nora Kavanagh was appointed as children's office at the November County Board meeting and must be ratified at Convention.
Gleeson is also nominated for assistant secretary and in another surprise move this week, the incumbent, Pauric Pierce announced this week that he is not seeking re-election – he has also been nominated.
Dervill Dolan has been nominated for both treasurer and assistant treasurer – the outgoing treasurer, Jimmy Hogan (Birr) and assistant treasurer, Brian Flynn (Ferbane). Brian Flynn was elected for the first time last year, beating Raheen's Martin Boland in a contest and Dolan is likely to go for the treasurer's position.
Brian Gavin is challenging the two current Leinster Council delegates, Joe Higgins (Tubber) and Dolores Slevin (Kilcormac/Killoughey). If Michael Duignan is beaten for the chair, Cummins, Dolan and Gavin are likely to withdraw.
The other outgoing officers are re-elected unopposed, though it remains to be seen if all will still stand if Tommy Byrne is beaten for the chair.
The contest for chairperson is dominating most attention. Intensive canvassing is taking place – Michael Duignan along with Colm Cummins, Dervill Dolan and Brian Gavin are meeting four or five clubs at a time to outline their plans while Tommy Byrne is talking to club officers and delegates on an individual basis.
The nominations are:
Chairperson: Tommy Byrne (Gracefield) (Outgoing); Michael Duignan (Durrow)
Vice Chairperson: Niall Gleeson (Kilcromac/Killoughey) (Outgoing); Colm Cummins (Edenderry); James Murphy (Rhode)
Secretary: Pat Horan (St Rynagh's) (Outgoing)
Assistant Secretary: Pauric Pierce (Raheen) (Outgoing); Niall Gleeson (Kilcromac/Killoughey)
Treasurer: Jimmy Hogan (Birr) (Outgoing); Dervill Dolan (Clara)
Assistant Treasurer: Brian Flynn (Ferbane) (Outgoing); Dervill Dolan (Clara)
PRO: Mary Dunne (Ballyfore) (Outgoing)
Central Council Representative: Paddy Scales (St Rynagh's) (Outgoing)
Leinster Council Representatives (2): Dolores Slevin (Kilcromac/Killoughey) (Outgoing); Joe Higgins (Tubber) (Outgoing) Brian Gavin (Clara)
Cultural Officer: John Moloney (Tullamore)
Coaching Officer: Martin Cashen (Carrig/Riverstown)