Roscommon GAA

Roscommon GAA Chairperson calls for action on rural decline

Roscommon GAA

Speaking at the Roscommon GAA Convention in the Ballinameen Community Centre this evening Chairperson Seamus Sweeney suggested that the GAA network could be used to lobby for and promote investment and jobs in County Roscommon.

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In a wide ranging speech Roscommon GAA Chairperson Seamus Sweeney praised the efforts of all sectors of Gaelic Games in the county. He thanked the departing managers and extended best wishes to those at the helm in 2017.
Commenting on the unavailability of Dr Hyde Park for most of 2016 the Chairperson thanked Longford and Leitrim County Boards and St Brigids for making Pearse Park, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada and Kiltoom available for Allianz League games. He addressed that work that had been done at the venue since, adding “There is much else to be done to bring the grounds up to standard & we will continue discussions with Croke Park to bring this about.”
Incidentally, it was later noted that the playing surface would be larger than Croke Park, at 140m x 90m.

Mr Sweeney thanked Roscommon GAA’s supporters in the US who had held with the launch of and fundraising of the Dermot Earley Centre. “This is a significant project, to put in place training facilities for all our codes which is on par with what is available in other counties. Our ambition to compete at the highest level must be matched by a commitment to provide our teams with the best facilities & the Dermot Earley Centre is an absolute requirement. It is a project that must be delivered & a project that will be delivered,” he added.

On a similar theme he thanked the county’s main sponsors Tom Hunt and Sean Mulryan, Club Rossie Business Members, the clubs and all those who support Roscommon GAA fundraising activities. “We owe a very great debt of gratitude to our fundraising arm Club Rossie under the leadership of David O’Connor who have done an enormous amount of work in raising funds & bringing a professional approach to our fundraising. I acknowledge & deeply appreciate the continued support we have received from business & the public & I would ask that this support be continued in order to deliver the projects we have planned. In addition to the other Club Rossie projects there is an innovative fundraiser the sale of squares in (the virtual) Hyde Park which I ask for your support for. (Details here .)

The challenge of rural depopulation on Roscommon GAA was another subject covered and the Chairperson spoke on the impact of emigration on the viability of his club. “As a member of a club in North Roscommon I have witnessed the effects of this drain on our clubs and communities. If they are not emigrating many of our young players are migrating out of the county in order to to earn a living. In my own club this year over half the team, nine players, were travelling back to train with the panel each week. The numbers of players living outside the county is an enormous challenge to our clubs and county.”

He added a call to action “Given that we are competing against counties with vastly greater resources and less challenges it is important in my view to commence a discussion within the GAA as to how we might address this very real issue. The facts are that people follow work and where work is scarce as in many parts of Roscommon the GAA playing population is falling. It is our duty to argue the case for our clubs and communities and if the policy makers are not addressing this issue perhaps we should use our own network to lobby for and promote investment and jobs in our county.”

Seamus Sweeney extended the Board’s sympathy to all those involved with Roscommon GAA who had suffered bereavement during the year, paying particular tribute to Gerry O’Malley RIP and Frank Dennehy RIP.

In finishing he thanked his fellow Officers for their support, the Club Officers, Office staff and Gate Collectors and Referees for their hard work. He thanked his wife Geraldine and sons for their patience, understanding and support.

He concluded by calling on those present and the Roscommon GAA community to get behind all the county’s teams and players who “represent us in all codes, carry our hopes and ambitions” adding “they deserve our support. “United let us go forward to be the very best we can be.”

Note: Full analysis and review of the Convention to follow tomorrow.