Kilkenny fell short of their own high expectations this season, but with unity, focus and good planning the county can be tops again.
That was the stirring message from County Board chairman, Ned Quinn, when he delivered his address to annual GAA Convention on Monday night.
Admitted that victory in the National Hurling League and Leinster minor championship fell short of desires, the Mooncoin official said finding the way to fulfil aspirations at all levels was the formidable challenge facing everyone involved in the organisation.
“We must avoid becomeing distracted by things peripheral to what happens on the field,” Mr Quinn insisted. “Instead, focus fully on ways to improve the skill and fitness of players in all grades while retaining the unit of purpose that has contributed so much to the success the county has enjoyed through the generations.”
That rallying call was delivered during the early part of the address. In the wind-up Mr Quinn returned to the same theme and after he finished he received a rapturous receptions from delegates.
“Foresight, commitment and dedication, driven by a love of Gaelic games and a keen sense of place, were vital attributes in those who went before us,” the chairman said when he laid it on the line at the end.
“Those things contributed enormously to the preeminent position the county holds in hurling today, both in terms of All-Ireland wins and All-Star awards. Different times bring different challenges.
“How we in this generation face up to these challenges will determine the continuation of the success the county has enjoyed into the future.”
He called on every delegate, and the general membership of clubs, to take the lead from those who “preceded us” and to commitment to showing the same vision, the same sense of place, the same desire to succeed as they did.
“We all come from different places and backgrounds,” Mr Quinn continued. “When we unite we can become an almight force as we’ve proven many, many times.
Go for it
“To better what has already been achieved is an enormous challenge. Let’s go for it!”
The former chairman hit just about every base possible during an address that ran to 11-pages. Thanks were delivered; warnings and appreciation too but the general theme was that Kilkenny could and would do better.
He left delegates in no doubt but that insurance cover for players, propertly and volunteers was a huge issue in the GAA going forward.
He pointed out that following the decision taken at Special Congress last month it was mandatory for, and the responsibility of each individual player at under-age and adult level, both in training and games, to wear a helmet complete with a face guard that met specified standard.
“Such helmets shall not be modified in any circumstances,” he warned. “The rationale for this is to remove the onus previously on the referee in this regard and put in squarely on the shoulders of the player, parents, guardians or other persons legally responsible for them.”
This was a clear and unambiguous rule, he continued, to protect the ’Association in as far as was possible against claims arising from injuries sustained by players not wearing a helmet, or using a modified one.
Likewise, he said, it was incumbent on all players from January 1, both at under-age and adult level, to wear a gum shield while playing Gaelic football.
“It is in everyones best interest that these regulations are fully adhered to,” Mr Quinn stressed.