Westside Column from Clonmel Nationalist

WESTSIDE.

With the big freeze dominating at the moment GAA interest moves indoor. This is Convention week in the County with all four regions doing their annual stocktaking. The North kicks off the regional circuit on Tuesday night, followed by the West on Wednesday, the Mid on Friday and the South on Sunday. The series is rounded off with the County gathering on December 20, a Monday night fixture that has become the norm in recent years, though an inconvenient one for the local print media.

There was a time when I used to be on the mailing lists of divisional secretaries but that has changed. Anyway I don’t think I’m missing too much because these Annual General Meetings have lost most of their former appeal. In the past they were big events with keenly contested elections and motions of real substance on the agenda. Nowadays elections are rare and motions relating to the games are held over for an ordinary meeting of the Board. It has all resulted in the Conventions becoming mere talk-shops with a lot of hot air and very little substance.

One item that is new is the five-year rule which sees some office holders having to step aside, willing or not. One of the longest serving in the County is West secretary, Jerry Ring, who decommissions his biro after an amazing twenty-nine years at the post. He started out in January 1982 and has been the guiding hand at the tiller ever since, overseeing what has been quite a remarkable period in the division’s history. His departure is a watershed moment for the West, though he’s well short of being the longest server in the history of the Board; that distinction is shared by Sean O’Dwyer and Jerry O’Dwyer, chairman and secretary respectively from 1935 until 1969. That was during an old-time era of long servers.

Jerry Ring’s term in charge did coincide with the division’s golden era from a games perspective. It’s no secret that the West was a poor relation for many decades before it began to emerge in the eighties. A new breed of talented player began to arrive on the scene to raise the division’s profile countywide. Names like Nicky English and Pat Fox as well as the Clonoulty contingent, Joe Hayes, John Kennedy and then Declan Ryan brought the spotlight onto the division. Cappawhite’s breakthrough county win of 1987 set a trend that was followed by Clonoulty in ’89 and Cashel in ’91. The Bonnars too became hurling heroes.

It all culminated in the West supplying seven of the starting fifteen that won that famine-breaking All Ireland of 1989. This was unprecedented territory for the West. By contrast the division had no starter on the first fifteen last September so one is temped to suggest that the wheel has gone full circle. In the peaks and valleys of these things the West has definitely hit a trough at the moment.

As a secretary Jerry Ring definitely brought new standards of organisation and efficiency to the job. His convention handbooks became a template that others subsequently copied. Listing all games played under the Board, for example, was a new departure back in the early eighties. These booklets have now become the first draft of the Board’s history.

He set a trend too at county level by daring to challenge long-serving Tommy Barrett for the post of secretary. Despite coming very close on his first bid he ultimately failed to unseat Tommy but I’ve no doubt his example encouraged Michael O’Brien who eventually took over, eventually paving the way for the appointment of a full time secretary in Timmy Floyd.

On Wednesday night at Sean Treacy Park Jerry Ring will present his final report as divisional secretary and I’ve no doubt will be given due recognition for three decades of quality service. He will be replaced by Michael Long of Golden\Kilfeacle, who has just stepped aside as secretary of the West juvenile Board. He’ll have a hard act to follow.

I note that the Clonoulty club has a motion before West convention asking that the County CCC ensures that all divisions play their U21 hurling championship on the same weekend. It’s both topical and timely given the farcical situation that has emerged this winter with our U21 competition unlikely to be finished before Christmas.

Not for the first time the Mid division is the one in the dock over the present situation. At the moment they still have to complete one of their semi-finals, the replay between Loughmore and Holycross, which has fallen foul of the weather in the past few weeks. Then Sarsfields await the winners in the decider with Arravale Rovers further down the queue waiting for county semi-final opponents. On the other side of the draw, Kilruane have booked their place in the county final.

One of the principal victims of this situation is Arravale Rovers. They won their West final back on August 10 with a memorable victory over Clonoulty/Rossmore. Four months later we head into the festive season and they still don’t know who or when they’ll play in a county semi-final. It’s a great way to promote hurling, isn’t it? Imagine trying to keep a team fit and focused in such circumstances.

Football is the number one game in Arravale but they’ve been making significant strides with the caman in recent years. They narrowly lost a county minor final to Loughmore last year and were runners-up too in the intermediate decider against Davins. Building on that they raised eyebrows by defeating Clonoulty in this year’s West U21 final but by now have probably lost any momentum such success may have given them.

The problem centres on the Mid division’s inability to complete is games’ programme in line with the other divisions – and by extension the County Board’s inability to force their hand. As I write I understand there’s a CCC meeting in progress, which presumably will address the situation. One has to question how this situation was allowed to develop in the first instance.

It’s my understanding that divisions were instructed to be ready for county semi-finals by Mid August. The West duly obeyed but the Mid appears to have done yet another solo run. Noel McGrath’s involvement with county U21 and senior sides was an obvious complicating factor as was Holycross’ progress to a county junior final. Yet that hardly justifies what has happened. Effectively the rest of the county is held ransom to the Mid’s inefficiency.

One wonders what solution will be found to the crux at this late stage of the year. Forcing the Mid to nominate is one obvious approach but I doubt if anyone will have the stomach for such a confrontation. We’ll wait and watch.

Elsewhere on the convention circuit there seems to be nothing of eye-catching impact. The North is looking for a new secretary after Ger McKeogh completed his five-year term. The latest I heard on that front is that they’re still looking for ‘valid’ nominations, which presumably means they had a few ‘invalid’ ones. Finding suitable candidates for these jobs might not be easy – the unsuitable ones are always available.

Meanwhile the Tipperary management has spread its net wider for prospective talent with a number of players being given winter training programmes in preparation for viewing in the New Year. Clearly Declan Ryan and his aides are very open minded on their panel, which is commendable. Having the All Ireland title is no reason for complacency; every panel needs freshening up.

Among the players who’ve been given these winter training programmes is Darragh Hickey, Boherlahan. It will be recalled that ‘Babs’ recruited him during his final year in charge and indeed he was one of our few success stories on that dismal day against Wexford, which ended the manager’s term. Under Liam Sheedy he made less progress and eventually left the panel after the ’08 Munster final. Now he’s been given another chance.

Sarsfields’ Stephen Lillis has also been given a winter programme, though in his case it’s a matter of keeping in shape rather than getting fit because his season only ended a fortnight ago with his club’s defeat to De La Salle. Like Darragh Hickey he was on the Babs panel of ’07 and his promotion is no real surprise after showing strong form for Sarsfields. He was one of their best against De La Salle.

Lillis’ club mate Denis Maher is also in the sights of the county management, which is quite dramatic promotion for one who was on the county minor panels of ’08 and ’09. Templederry’s Matthew Ryan is also doing the winter training routine. He’s a highly-rated goalie who’s played minor, U21 and intermediate for the county. Altogether there must be around forty-five players now on what might be termed an extended panel. The January cull will be interesting.

Speaking of winter training programmes reminds me of the background rumblings at the moment amid claims that some counties are in breach of the November/December training ban. Some managers are clearly hostile to this idea though I see merit in having some type of ‘closed’ period for inter-county players. You could argue of course that they’re training anyway because they have winter gym programmes to keep them in trim for the New Year. Still I think the playing year is long enough and some pause is surely welcome for amateur players.

Finally it’s interesting to read about the Cork players attempting to get Denis Walsh to change his mind on the dropping of Sean Og. Their meeting with the manager must have been quite a curt affair. The man is not for turning and that’s it; meeting over. Whether you agree or disagree with the manager the central point is that it’s his call and his alone. Isn’t it interesting though to see that there’s still friction within that camp. It seems to me that when players usurp powers that should not be theirs then the whole dynamic of team management goes out of kilter. It’s interesting to see Denis Walsh make a stand against the latest touch of player power – and ironic too given how he was appointed to the job.

WESTSIDE.

With the big freeze dominating at the moment GAA interest moves indoor. This is Convention week in the County with all four regions doing their annual stocktaking. The North kicks off the regional circuit on Tuesday night, followed by the West on Wednesday, the Mid on Friday and the South on Sunday. The series is rounded off with the County gathering on December 20, a Monday night fixture that has become the norm in recent years, though an inconvenient one for the local print media.

There was a time when I used to be on the mailing lists of divisional secretaries but that has changed. Anyway I don’t think I’m missing too much because these Annual General Meetings have lost most of their former appeal. In the past they were big events with keenly contested elections and motions of real substance on the agenda. Nowadays elections are rare and motions relating to the games are held over for an ordinary meeting of the Board. It has all resulted in the Conventions becoming mere talk-shops with a lot of hot air and very little substance.

One item that is new is the five-year rule which sees some office holders having to step aside, willing or not. One of the longest serving in the County is West secretary, Jerry Ring, who decommissions his biro after an amazing twenty-nine years at the post. He started out in January 1982 and has been the guiding hand at the tiller ever since, overseeing what has been quite a remarkable period in the division’s history. His departure is a watershed moment for the West, though he’s well short of being the longest server in the history of the Board; that distinction is shared by Sean O’Dwyer and Jerry O’Dwyer, chairman and secretary respectively from 1935 until 1969. That was during an old-time era of long servers.

Jerry Ring’s term in charge did coincide with the division’s golden era from a games perspective. It’s no secret that the West was a poor relation for many decades before it began to emerge in the eighties. A new breed of talented player began to arrive on the scene to raise the division’s profile countywide. Names like Nicky English and Pat Fox as well as the Clonoulty contingent, Joe Hayes, John Kennedy and then Declan Ryan brought the spotlight onto the division. Cappawhite’s breakthrough county win of 1987 set a trend that was followed by Clonoulty in ’89 and Cashel in ’91. The Bonnars too became hurling heroes.

It all culminated in the West supplying seven of the starting fifteen that won that famine-breaking All Ireland of 1989. This was unprecedented territory for the West. By contrast the division had no starter on the first fifteen last September so one is temped to suggest that the wheel has gone full circle. In the peaks and valleys of these things the West has definitely hit a trough at the moment.

As a secretary Jerry Ring definitely brought new standards of organisation and efficiency to the job. His convention handbooks became a template that others subsequently copied. Listing all games played under the Board, for example, was a new departure back in the early eighties. These booklets have now become the first draft of the Board’s history.

He set a trend too at county level by daring to challenge long-serving Tommy Barrett for the post of secretary. Despite coming very close on his first bid he ultimately failed to unseat Tommy but I’ve no doubt his example encouraged Michael O’Brien who eventually took over, eventually paving the way for the appointment of a full time secretary in Timmy Floyd.

On Wednesday night at Sean Treacy Park Jerry Ring will present his final report as divisional secretary and I’ve no doubt will be given due recognition for three decades of quality service. He will be replaced by Michael Long of Golden\Kilfeacle, who has just stepped aside as secretary of the West juvenile Board. He’ll have a hard act to follow.

I note that the Clonoulty club has a motion before West convention asking that the County CCC ensures that all divisions play their U21 hurling championship on the same weekend. It’s both topical and timely given the farcical situation that has emerged this winter with our U21 competition unlikely to be finished before Christmas.

Not for the first time the Mid division is the one in the dock over the present situation. At the moment they still have to complete one of their semi-finals, the replay between Loughmore and Holycross, which has fallen foul of the weather in the past few weeks. Then Sarsfields await the winners in the decider with Arravale Rovers further down the queue waiting for county semi-final opponents. On the other side of the draw, Kilruane have booked their place in the county final.

One of the principal victims of this situation is Arravale Rovers. They won their West final back on August 10 with a memorable victory over Clonoulty/Rossmore. Four months later we head into the festive season and they still don’t know who or when they’ll play in a county semi-final. It’s a great way to promote hurling, isn’t it? Imagine trying to keep a team fit and focused in such circumstances.

Football is the number one game in Arravale but they’ve been making significant strides with the caman in recent years. They narrowly lost a county minor final to Loughmore last year and were runners-up too in the intermediate decider against Davins. Building on that they raised eyebrows by defeating Clonoulty in this year’s West U21 final but by now have probably lost any momentum such success may have given them.

The problem centres on the Mid division’s inability to complete is games’ programme in line with the other divisions – and by extension the County Board’s inability to force their hand. As I write I understand there’s a CCC meeting in progress, which presumably will address the situation. One has to question how this situation was allowed to develop in the first instance.

It’s my understanding that divisions were instructed to be ready for county semi-finals by Mid August. The West duly obeyed but the Mid appears to have done yet another solo run. Noel McGrath’s involvement with county U21 and senior sides was an obvious complicating factor as was Holycross’ progress to a county junior final. Yet that hardly justifies what has happened. Effectively the rest of the county is held ransom to the Mid’s inefficiency.

One wonders what solution will be found to the crux at this late stage of the year. Forcing the Mid to nominate is one obvious approach but I doubt if anyone will have the stomach for such a confrontation. We’ll wait and watch.

Elsewhere on the convention circuit there seems to be nothing of eye-catching impact. The North is looking for a new secretary after Ger McKeogh completed his five-year term. The latest I heard on that front is that they’re still looking for ‘valid’ nominations, which presumably means they had a few ‘invalid’ ones. Finding suitable candidates for these jobs might not be easy – the unsuitable ones are always available.

Meanwhile the Tipperary management has spread its net wider for prospective talent with a number of players being given winter training programmes in preparation for viewing in the New Year. Clearly Declan Ryan and his aides are very open minded on their panel, which is commendable. Having the All Ireland title is no reason for complacency; every panel needs freshening up.

Among the players who’ve been given these winter training programmes is Darragh Hickey, Boherlahan. It will be recalled that ‘Babs’ recruited him during his final year in charge and indeed he was one of our few success stories on that dismal day against Wexford, which ended the manager’s term. Under Liam Sheedy he made less progress and eventually left the panel after the ’08 Munster final. Now he’s been given another chance.

Sarsfields’ Stephen Lillis has also been given a winter programme, though in his case it’s a matter of keeping in shape rather than getting fit because his season only ended a fortnight ago with his club’s defeat to De La Salle. Like Darragh Hickey he was on the Babs panel of ’07 and his promotion is no real surprise after showing strong form for Sarsfields. He was one of their best against De La Salle.

Lillis’ club mate Denis Maher is also in the sights of the county management, which is quite dramatic promotion for one who was on the county minor panels of ’08 and ’09. Templederry’s Matthew Ryan is also doing the winter training routine. He’s a highly-rated goalie who’s played minor, U21 and intermediate for the county. Altogether there must be around forty-five players now on what might be termed an extended panel. The January cull will be interesting.

Speaking of winter training programmes reminds me of the background rumblings at the moment amid claims that some counties are in breach of the November/December training ban. Some managers are clearly hostile to this idea though I see merit in having some type of ‘closed’ period for inter-county players. You could argue of course that they’re training anyway because they have winter gym programmes to keep them in trim for the New Year. Still I think the playing year is long enough and some pause is surely welcome for amateur players.

Finally it’s interesting to read about the Cork players attempting to get Denis Walsh to change his mind on the dropping of Sean Og. Their meeting with the manager must have been quite a curt affair. The man is not for turning and that’s it; meeting over. Whether you agree or disagree with the manager the central point is that it’s his call and his alone. Isn’t it interesting though to see that there’s still friction within that camp. It seems to me that when players usurp powers that should not be theirs then the whole dynamic of team management goes out of kilter. It’s interesting to see Denis Walsh make a stand against the latest touch of player power – and ironic too given how he was appointed to the job.

WESTSIDE.

With the big freeze dominating at the moment GAA interest moves indoor. This is Convention week in the County with all four regions doing their annual stocktaking. The North kicks off the regional circuit on Tuesday night, followed by the West on Wednesday, the Mid on Friday and the South on Sunday. The series is rounded off with the County gathering on December 20, a Monday night fixture that has become the norm in recent years, though an inconvenient one for the local print media.

There was a time when I used to be on the mailing lists of divisional secretaries but that has changed. Anyway I don’t think I’m missing too much because these Annual General Meetings have lost most of their former appeal. In the past they were big events with keenly contested elections and motions of real substance on the agenda. Nowadays elections are rare and motions relating to the games are held over for an ordinary meeting of the Board. It has all resulted in the Conventions becoming mere talk-shops with a lot of hot air and very little substance.

One item that is new is the five-year rule which sees some office holders having to step aside, willing or not. One of the longest serving in the County is West secretary, Jerry Ring, who decommissions his biro after an amazing twenty-nine years at the post. He started out in January 1982 and has been the guiding hand at the tiller ever since, overseeing what has been quite a remarkable period in the division’s history. His departure is a watershed moment for the West, though he’s well short of being the longest server in the history of the Board; that distinction is shared by Sean O’Dwyer and Jerry O’Dwyer, chairman and secretary respectively from 1935 until 1969. That was during an old-time era of long servers.

Jerry Ring’s term in charge did coincide with the division’s golden era from a games perspective. It’s no secret that the West was a poor relation for many decades before it began to emerge in the eighties. A new breed of talented player began to arrive on the scene to raise the division’s profile countywide. Names like Nicky English and Pat Fox as well as the Clonoulty contingent, Joe Hayes, John Kennedy and then Declan Ryan brought the spotlight onto the division. Cappawhite’s breakthrough county win of 1987 set a trend that was followed by Clonoulty in ’89 and Cashel in ’91. The Bonnars too became hurling heroes.

It all culminated in the West supplying seven of the starting fifteen that won that famine-breaking All Ireland of 1989. This was unprecedented territory for the West. By contrast the division had no starter on the first fifteen last September so one is temped to suggest that the wheel has gone full circle. In the peaks and valleys of these things the West has definitely hit a trough at the moment.

As a secretary Jerry Ring definitely brought new standards of organisation and efficiency to the job. His convention handbooks became a template that others subsequently copied. Listing all games played under the Board, for example, was a new departure back in the early eighties. These booklets have now become the first draft of the Board’s history.

He set a trend too at county level by daring to challenge long-serving Tommy Barrett for the post of secretary. Despite coming very close on his first bid he ultimately failed to unseat Tommy but I’ve no doubt his example encouraged Michael O’Brien who eventually took over, eventually paving the way for the appointment of a full time secretary in Timmy Floyd.

On Wednesday night at Sean Treacy Park Jerry Ring will present his final report as divisional secretary and I’ve no doubt will be given due recognition for three decades of quality service. He will be replaced by Michael Long of Golden\Kilfeacle, who has just stepped aside as secretary of the West juvenile Board. He’ll have a hard act to follow.

I note that the Clonoulty club has a motion before West convention asking that the County CCC ensures that all divisions play their U21 hurling championship on the same weekend. It’s both topical and timely given the farcical situation that has emerged this winter with our U21 competition unlikely to be finished before Christmas.

Not for the first time the Mid division is the one in the dock over the present situation. At the moment they still have to complete one of their semi-finals, the replay between Loughmore and Holycross, which has fallen foul of the weather in the past few weeks. Then Sarsfields await the winners in the decider with Arravale Rovers further down the queue waiting for county semi-final opponents. On the other side of the draw, Kilruane have booked their place in the county final.

One of the principal victims of this situation is Arravale Rovers. They won their West final back on August 10 with a memorable victory over Clonoulty/Rossmore. Four months later we head into the festive season and they still don’t know who or when they’ll play in a county semi-final. It’s a great way to promote hurling, isn’t it? Imagine trying to keep a team fit and focused in such circumstances.

Football is the number one game in Arravale but they’ve been making significant strides with the caman in recent years. They narrowly lost a county minor final to Loughmore last year and were runners-up too in the intermediate decider against Davins. Building on that they raised eyebrows by defeating Clonoulty in this year’s West U21 final but by now have probably lost any momentum such success may have given them.

The problem centres on the Mid division’s inability to complete is games’ programme in line with the other divisions – and by extension the County Board’s inability to force their hand. As I write I understand there’s a CCC meeting in progress, which presumably will address the situation. One has to question how this situation was allowed to develop in the first instance.

It’s my understanding that divisions were instructed to be ready for county semi-finals by Mid August. The West duly obeyed but the Mid appears to have done yet another solo run. Noel McGrath’s involvement with county U21 and senior sides was an obvious complicating factor as was Holycross’ progress to a county junior final. Yet that hardly justifies what has happened. Effectively the rest of the county is held ransom to the Mid’s inefficiency.

One wonders what solution will be found to the crux at this late stage of the year. Forcing the Mid to nominate is one obvious approach but I doubt if anyone will have the stomach for such a confrontation. We’ll wait and watch.

Elsewhere on the convention circuit there seems to be nothing of eye-catching impact. The North is looking for a new secretary after Ger McKeogh completed his five-year term. The latest I heard on that front is that they’re still looking for ‘valid’ nominations, which presumably means they had a few ‘invalid’ ones. Finding suitable candidates for these jobs might not be easy – the unsuitable ones are always available.

Meanwhile the Tipperary management has spread its net wider for prospective talent with a number of players being given winter training programmes in preparation for viewing in the New Year. Clearly Declan Ryan and his aides are very open minded on their panel, which is commendable. Having the All Ireland title is no reason for complacency; every panel needs freshening up.

Among the players who’ve been given these winter training programmes is Darragh Hickey, Boherlahan. It will be recalled that ‘Babs’ recruited him during his final year in charge and indeed he was one of our few success stories on that dismal day against Wexford, which ended the manager’s term. Under Liam Sheedy he made less progress and eventually left the panel after the ’08 Munster final. Now he’s been given another chance.

Sarsfields’ Stephen Lillis has also been given a winter programme, though in his case it’s a matter of keeping in shape rather than getting fit because his season only ended a fortnight ago with his club’s defeat to De La Salle. Like Darragh Hickey he was on the Babs panel of ’07 and his promotion is no real surprise after showing strong form for Sarsfields. He was one of their best against De La Salle.

Lillis’ club mate Denis Maher is also in the sights of the county management, which is quite dramatic promotion for one who was on the county minor panels of ’08 and ’09. Templederry’s Matthew Ryan is also doing the winter training routine. He’s a highly-rated goalie who’s played minor, U21 and intermediate for the county. Altogether there must be around forty-five players now on what might be termed an extended panel. The January cull will be interesting.

Speaking of winter training programmes reminds me of the background rumblings at the moment amid claims that some counties are in breach of the November/December training ban. Some managers are clearly hostile to this idea though I see merit in having some type of ‘closed’ period for inter-county players. You could argue of course that they’re training anyway because they have winter gym programmes to keep them in trim for the New Year. Still I think the playing year is long enough and some pause is surely welcome for amateur players.

Finally it’s interesting to read about the Cork players attempting to get Denis Walsh to change his mind on the dropping of Sean Og. Their meeting with the manager must have been quite a curt affair. The man is not for turning and that’s it; meeting over. Whether you agree or disagree with the manager the central point is that it’s his call and his alone. Isn’t it interesting though to see that there’s still friction within that camp. It seems to me that when players usurp powers that should not be theirs then the whole dynamic of team management goes out of kilter. It’s interesting to see Denis Walsh make a stand against the latest touch of player power – and ironic too given how he was appointed to the job.

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