‘We need to work together’ says new London GAA Chair

We need to work together says New London GAA Chairperson Donal Corbett
New London GAA Chairperson Donal Corbett. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

London GAA’s new county board chairperson Donal Corbett has called on the county’s members to come together and put an end to the “disconnect” between London’s clubs and the board.

Corbett, who was elected at London’s recent Convention, urged all of the county’s clubs to take an active involvement at board level, and banish the ‘them and us’ mentality between the clubs and the ‘top table’.

“I here now invite all clubs to be represented in all sub committees and to commit their talents to London GAA. I assure them that they will be warmly received and listened to,” he told delegates.

“At the end of my term, whenever that may be, I will ensure I won’t hear ‘we sent out delegates [but] they weren’t listened to’. They will be listened to, they are wanted.”

He added: “Are all clubs connected to the county committee? They should be.”

A longstanding member and administrator of Granuaile hurling club, Corbett defeated Fulham Irish’s John Doyle by 60 votes to 25, at London’s 31 January Convention.

He takes over from outgoing chairperson John Lacey, who stepped down following completion of his five-year term of office.

From the parish of Terryglass and Kilbarron in Co Tipperary, Corbett’s hometown club is Shannon Rovers.

He also told delegates that there needs to be greater “synergy” within London between the codes.

“We have an issue in London; and that is ‘is he a hurling or football man?’,” he said.

“My code of choice is hurling, but as a county committee member and officer I do not have that choice, and I do not want that choice.

“My role, and our role as administrators, is to increase participation and standards of both codes, both club and county, youth and adult. One code cannot be to the detriment of the other – we need to work together.”

He added: “Our strength is our Games. Our weakness is not wanting to see the other person’s point of view, and enthusiastically working together for the greater good of London GAA.

“As administrators, we organise our Games to ensure they flourish and grow. But what we do is of more importance than just organising our Games…..[we must] improve them and make them accessible to more and more people.”

Corbett acknowledged the difficulties facing the London Board over the next two years due to Covid-19, particularly its impact on revenue.

But he reminded delegates that the Association in London has overcome many setbacks in the past, and said “it will emerge from this latest setback”.

“It will be a huge challenge to us, but one we must face with confidence,” he said.

“Our core is our Games and they will survive forever. We want to more be, to be more successful, and to be so as one.”

Tributes

Corbett praised his predecessor John Lacey’s “dedication” to the GAA in London, and thanked him for his service over the past five years, and many the years before that.

Corbett also echoed Lacey’s comments in paying tribute to those members of London GAA who sadly passed away in 2020.

“The past year has been so difficult; we have lost some great Gaels due to Covid-19…” said Lacey in his report.

Amongst those lost was provincial council delegate Sean Reid. His fellow council delegate, Tom Mohan, described Sean as a “gentleman” and said he would be “sadly missed”.

While Lacey spoke of a London GAA “stalwart” who always “had the courage of his convictions”.

Others who sadly passed away included PJ Kennedy, former provincial council officer Tadgh Meehan, and Irish Worldowner Paddy Cowan, who served as vice chairperson in 1993.

Lacey described Paddy as a “great benefactor” and “administrator” to London GAA, and said he “helped to keep London GAA on the map”.

Lacey’s tenure as chairperson – his second – saw the opening of the new ground at Ruislip and he praised all those involved in bringing the project to fruition, particularly Denis Nolan and Donal Corbett.

He went on to thank delegates for their support over the past five years, and called for the “spirit” shown within the county in 2020 to continue going forwards.

Experience

New London chairperson Donal Corbett has an abundance of administrative experience at club and county board level in London.

He was re-appointed to the role of London county board treasurer in September 2019.

He had previously served as treasurer between 2010 and 2013 – a role he combined with that of treasurer of the Ruislip sports and social club (2009 and 2011).

Corbett was also on the Croke Park committee for the redevelopment of the new ground at Ruislip, which was officially opened in 2017.

A member of Granuaile hurling club since 1999, he currently holds the position of assistant secretary, having previously occupied the role of chairperson (2012-2019) and treasurer (2004-2012).

Corbett becomes just the third Tipperary-native to be elected chairperson of the London county board. The others were Paddy Ryan, who held the position from 1970 to 1976, and Eugene Hickey (1992-1995).

“It’s a great honour for me, my family and my club to be elected as chairperson of the London county committee,” he added.

London GAA has 15 matches still to be completed in London from the 2020 season – two hurling finals; semi-finals and finals in the three football championships; reserve football final, and three football cup finals.

Outgoing chair John Lacey praised the “marvellous” work of vice chairperson John O’Neill in “difficult circumstances” in this regard, as well as all clubs and members of management.

2021 London County Board Officers

LIFE PRESIDENT: Carmel McArdle (Cuchulainns)

PRESIDENT: Bill Reilly (O) – Brothers Pearse 52

CHAIRPERSON: Donal Corbett (Granuaile)

VICE CHAIRPERSON: John O’Neill (Kilburn Gaels)

SECRETARY: John Molloy (Round Towers)

TREASURER: Mort Reidy (St Kiernan’s)

ASSISTANT TREASURER: Tony Geary (Brothers Pearse)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Calum Crowley (Tir Chonaill Gaels)

COACHING OFFICER: Coleen Lynott (St Claret’s)

PRO: Fiona O’Brien (Brothers Pearse)

IRISH OFFICER: Sean Howlin (Fr Murphy’s)

CENTRAL COUNCIL: Tony O’Halloran (Harlesden Harps)

PROVINCIAL COUNCIL: Tom Mohan (Tir Chonaill Gaels) & Bernard Collins (Brothers Pearse)

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