London chairperson John Lacey blasts Irish GAA counties for fundraising in London
By Damian Dolan
Newly reappointed London county board chairperson John Lacey used Sunday’s Convention to urge Croke Park to act over counties in Ireland fundraising in London, to the direct detriment of the GAA in the city.
London plan to write to GAA president John Horan to voice their concerns over the long-accepted practice.
Earlier this year, New York chairperson Laurence McGrath appealed to counties in Ireland to stay away for “two to three years”. He said: “They’re taking out of our pockets, especially now that we have to go and fundraise for ourselves.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Lacey, who said the situation has become “beyond a joke”.
Lacey told the Irish World: “It’s not acceptable; we have to try and arrange funds just the same, but they never take that into consideration. How would they feel if we went into their counties and tried to raise funds?
“They’re becoming more cheeky and open about it. They come in, fundraise, and then they’re away again. Only one county gives something back.”
While Lacey conceded that there was currently no rule governing such fundraising exercises, he said London had no option but to take some steps to “curtail it”.
“Otherwise there’s nothing left for ourselves here to live on. They (the county associations) have budgets and if it’s already gone to a county outside of here (London) then they can’t give it to us,” he added.
“The less [counties] come here the more chance we have of getting funding, and funding now is more important than ever.
“There’s an old saying, the savage loves his native shore and he’s going to give to his native county. He sees London as secondary.
“Not so in all cases, of course, because we have exceptionally good sponsors and ones that have supported us right down the years.
“I’m not having a go at the sponsors, I’m having a go at the counties who are invading.”
— OFFICIAL LONDON GAA (@LONDAINGAA) December 2, 2018
In October, Mayo announced plans to host a dinner in New York to coincide with next year’s Connacht Championship clash in the Big Apple. They reportedly hoped to raise €1m towards their centre of excellence.
Just one example of a county in Ireland tapping the diaspora overseas – an accepted practice going back years.
Donegal and Galway are both in London this month.
Lacey was reappointed London County Board chairperson for a fourth year at last Sunday’s Convention at McGovern Park, Ruislip.
Lacey, who is in his second spell as chair, won a vote against Eddie Naughton. Lacey gaining 62 votes to Naughton’s 14.
Lacey has made the refurbishment of the clubhouse at Ruislip his number one priority for 2019.
The first floor of the clubhouse is due to undergo a significant upgrade with work ideally to be completed for the visit of Galway in the Connacht Championship in May.
Funding is in place and the board is currently waiting on the final design, and the project has gone out to tender.
“The most important thing for next year is to get the clubhouse refurbished upstairs. If we achieve that we’ll have done a good job,” said Lacey.
“We have to endeavour to try and get it done for spring in time for the Connacht Championship. Failing that it will be the second week of May before work will commence.”
Lacey also used his address to delegates to voice his concerns over the drop in players registering in London from clubs in Ireland. He also implored clubs to appeal to their members to find more referees.
In November, London senior champions Tir Chonaill Gaels became the first London champions to compete in the Connacht Club Championship, and Lacey is confident that the move will eventually bring its “reward”.
He also reiterated his appeal of last year for all those interested in hurling in the county to come together for a hurling workshop.
Lacey also expressed his disappointment at attendances at McGovern Park last year for the county’s footballers and hurlers’ home national league and championship fixtures. He urged the GAA community to get behind Ciaran Deely and Shane Kelly’s teams in 2019.
The only other county board position which went to a vote was for central council delegate. Incumbent Seamus Carr received 58 votes to Tony O’Halloran’s 21 votes, and will continue in the role for a fifth and final year.
There were calls from the floor for London to review its player insurance policy. The current scheme covers loss of earnings only, if a player sustains a serious injury and is unable to work.
Clubs want it to cover the cost of going private for medical treatment so that players can receive treatment quicker, rather than being forced to wait on the NHS. The board has promised to review the situation.
London County Board Officers 2019
Life President: Carmel McArdle (Cuchulainns)
Honorary President: Bill Reilly (Brothers Pearse)
Chairperson: John Lacey (Granuaile)
Vice Chairperson: John O’Neill (Kilburn Gaels)
Assistant Secretary: John Doyle (Fulham Irish)
Assistant Treasurer: TBC
Treasurer Social Club: Andy Kehoe (Granuaile)
Coaching Officer: Coleen Lynott (St Clarets)
Public Relations Officer: Fiona O’Brien (Brothers Pearse)
Oifigeach na Gaeilge: Tommy Harrell (Fr Murphys)
Central Council: Seamus Carr (Tir Chonaill Gaels)
Provincial Council: Tom Mohan (Tir Chonaill Gaels) & Sean Reid (Dulwich Harps)
Health & Well-being Officer: Dee Malone (St Brendans)
Development Officer: Tony Griffin (Parnells)
Children’s Officer: Sinead Griffin (Parnells)
Chairperson of Youth: Joel McInern (Tir Chonaill Gaels)