First-time GAA Congress experience

Logging on for the GAA annual Congress for the first time was an interesting experience today.

Similar to the Meath GAA Co Board adjourned convention, last month there was plenty of advice in relation to 'mute' and 'unmute' as delegates tackled technology and were, for the most part, successful.

It all made for an amicable sort of meeting - oppostion to proposals and criticism of any type was minimal.

Surely that's a good way forward for more efficient meetings, but would it be a good way to complete business going forward (as they say) - that is as yet an unknown element of the new-era type meetings.

Normally, the GAA Congress would not be high on the agenda from a Meath Chronicle reporting perspective annually as there would normally be a glut inter-county football, hurling, ladies football and camogie along with some club action scheduled on a normal weekend at the end of February.

In the absence that 'normal activity' there was an opportunity to get the Congress experience without having to make any great effort in relation to travel and parking and traffic and all that hassle.

Outgoing GAA president John Horan hosted what was a historic occasion as it was the first Congree in a remote or digital format.

It was a totally new experience that could pave the way for more of the same in the immediate short-term due to the arrival of Covid-19 in early 2020.

The GAA's annual report stated at the outset.

"The GAA simply could not have navigated its way safely through 2020 without the significant support of governments both north and south.

"That support came in many forms and was consistent across changing administrations.

"The advice and guidance we received from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as it was at the outset, was invaluable as we repeatedly found ourselves in unchartered territory.

"The timely introduction of the various employment support measures made it possible for us to keep our staff in employment.

"The funding support for the entire sporting sector was unprecedented, and the GAA at all levels benefited hugely.

"Unfortunately our financial losses were still unprecedented, but government supports mitigated those losses significantly."

Former GAA president Sean Kelly questioned the loss of elite status and why other sports - rugby, soccer, athletics - held on to the elite status.

"Our covid advisory group is quite happy that we are not playing at the moment - across all strands - ladies football, camogie, football and hurling," stated GAA Director General Tom Ryan.

"There is no loss in status for the GAA, and that aspect has been stirred up a bit by inter-county managers," he added.

The financial report was dealt with efficiently by that man charged with that task for the GAA, Ger Mulryan.

"It was a very challenging year financially with a deficit for 2020 of €27.1m compared to a €3m surplus in 2019," he stated acknowledging the crucial financial support received from Government.

Looking at the costs associated with inter-county football and hurling teams he added:

"The payment of inter-county player expenses was centralised for 2020 and a defined playing season will help control the costs," he indicated.

In relation to development projects across the country and the 2021 competitions he revealed:

"Direct infrastructure grants will not be available in 2021 and further Government support will be sought to support the staging of national competitions," he said.

"We will bounce back from this, we are in the middle of a two-year period of tricky financial planning, but it will passand we will bounce back," he concluded..

The next phase was the debate and voting on motions.

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