The GAA’s London County Board voted to replace its chair Noel O’Sullivan with a man who last held the post over 20 years ago.
At the county board’s annual convention Mr O’Sullivan, who was to stand for his fifth and final year as London chair, lost by 58 votes to 37 in favour of Mr Lacey.
Granuaile man Lacey last chaired the County Board two decades ago, before moving to Central Council as London rep and then chair before failing – by a very close margin to be elected as a Trustee.
Mr. Lacey had been a frequent and vocal critic of outgoing chair Noel O’Sullivan – whom he reluctantly admitted had successfully restored London GAA’s finances – said he would seek to ‘unite’ the county board and would not interfere with the current Ruislip Development.
Central Council delegate Seamus Carr and PRO Declan Flanagan commended Mr O’Sullivan, and congratulated Mr Lacey, as they noted the Kiernan’s club member’s work over the past four years.
Mr. O’Sullivan was hailed for steering the board to an improved financial state as he announced it could be in a position to stop relying on the clubs’ monetary input for its monthly county board draw come next summer’s renewal.
In his chairperson’s report he noted it had been a tough year due to the Ruislip development delay, and the historic, and controversial, Irish Guards vote, saying he could ‘sympathise with the views from those on both sides of the argument’.
“It’s a great honour to come back here after 20 years, near enough to the day, and be re-elected as Chairman,” said Mr Lacey. “It doesn’t give me a lot of pleasure to oust Noel. He’s done a good job in a lot of cases, but in other cases I would say we’re not happy with how things have been going.
“All I can say is that I will do my very best for the coming year.
“It’s going to be a short term, that I can assure you, I don’t intend to stay around too long. But I wouldn’t be here unless the clubs put me here, so I hope I get their support.”
Proinsias Redican (Tara) retained his position of Honorary President after winning the vote over Bill Reilly of Shalloe Pearses.
Harlesden Harps’ Tony O’Halloran had served five years as Vice Chairperson so was ineligible to stay on, and Eddie Naughton, of Cuchulainns, beat St Gabriels’ Tom Conneely to take on the role in 2016.
John Molloy (Round Towers) remained as Assistant Secretary, as did John Malone (St Brendans) of the Social Club, Noel Dunning (Kingdom Kerry Gaels) as Development Officer, Tony Griffin (Parnells) as Coaching Officer and Declan Flanagan of St Josephs as PRO.
Patrick Griffin (St Gabriels) remains Officer for Irish Language & Culture and Seamus Carr (Tir Chonaill Gaels) as London’s delegate for Central Council.
Provincial Council delegate Sean Flaherty, of Dulwich Harps, was ineligible as had served five years, as was John Lacey after taking up the chairperson role.
Johnny Dwyer (Thomas McCurtains) and Donal Corbett (Granuaile) withdrew from standing, so Tony O’Halloran and Tom Conneely will be the Provincial Council delegates for London in 2016.
Mr O’Sullivan withdrew as Chairperson of Finance.
Points of debate included the successful Super Centre initiative which saw 90 non-affiliated youths take up hurling and a debate how to get them more involved in the London set-up.
Youth progress in football was also praised, and the ABC tournament a major success for London Youth Development.
Referee support and walkovers were also discussed, and one proposal raised to combat walkovers was to introduce a mid-season break over two weekends at the end of July/start of August.