BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THREE-WAY battles for the positions of Chairman and PRO, a tense two-way fight for the Central Council delegate’s seat, a four into two division for the Ulster Council delegates places and what had seemed a hotly-contested race for the Vice Chairman’s post now a possible abandonment – Sunday’s annual Donegal GAA Convention seems set to throw up some interesting connundrums.
PJ McGowan concludes his three-year term as Chairman at Sunday’s Convention, to be held at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal town. His replacement will be elected by delegates at the meeting with three names in the mix: Charlie Cannon, Mick McGrath and Sean Dunnion.
Cannon is the sitting Vice Chairman, with McGrath currently holding the position of Children’s Officer who has had long-time ambitions to be the Co Chairman. While the Four Masters clubman Dunnion is the new kid on the block, it is he who is the slight favourite to succeed McGowan when the numbers are totted on Sunday afternoon. Dunnion became the third entrant into the field after considering long and hard the responsibilities the position carries with it.
With three names in the ballot, the numbers are hard to crunch with each candidate having their own strongholds in terms of support, but it is the 44-year old Dunnion, a Donegal County Council employee, who looks set to hold sway, though with three on the canvas across the county there can be no guarantees.
Anthony Molloy and Liam Ward were also nominated, but have declined to let their names go forward to Sunday’s meeting.
Seven of the sitting officers will retain their portfolios unopposed: Aodh Mairtín Ó Fearraigh (Secretary), Sean McGinley (Assistant Secretary), Grace Boyle (Treasurer), Frankie Doherty (Assistant Treasurer), Michael McMenamin (Development Officer), Con O’Donnell (Oifigeach Cultúrtha) and Anthony Harkin (Coaching Officer).
Others had been nominated for some of these positions, but this week Máire Graham, Edward Molloy and Barry McDaid confirmed that they will withdraw from the assistant secretary’s list, Brendan Kelly will let Doherty take up his position again, while Fergus McGee has declined to challenge O’Donnell.
The Vice Chairman’s post had seemed set to become a bit of a minefield, but it is now not inconceivable – rather, highly possible – that delegates could leave Sunday’s meeting without having elected a Vice Chairman – a position that also comes with it the brief of Chairman of the Competition’s Controls Committee (CCC).
Sean McGinley, Alan Boyd, Niall Erskine, Liam Ward, Anthony Molloy and Brian McEniff have all confirmed that they have no desire to contest the position, with Danny McNamee also in that boat. That leaves Cannon and Dunnion, who will first contest the Chairman’s race alongside McGrath.
This week, both Cannon and Dunnion indicated that it was basically a case of ‘Chair or bust’ with neither showing a willingness to contest the Vice Chairman’s post were they to lose out in the afternoon’s first election.
It seems that, unless Cannon has a change of heart in relation to the portfolio he currently holds – in the hypothetical scenario that he’s not elected as the Co Chairman – then the high-powered seat will be left vacant until the January meeting of the County Committee.
Edward Molloy is the second sitting officer who has to leave his current role, with the Ardara man having to end a five-year term as Ulster Council delegate on Sunday. Molloy has confirmed that he is leaving his name in the mix for the position of Public Relations Officer – which will be a three-way battle between himself, Jim Quinn of Glenfin and the current PRO Máire Graham. Mary Kelly has also been nominated and, while she hasn’t confirmed her intentions, it’s not likely that she’ll go against her fellow clubperson, having been re-elected as the Ardara secretary at Sunday’s AGM.
Four into two doesn’t go, but Pat Connaghan, Danny McNamee, Pat Walsh and Brendan Kelly have signalled to the Donegal News this week that they are contesting the Ulster Council Delegates’ places – two of them will be elected. Walsh has also expressed a desire to continue in his role as the Referees’ Administrator in Donegal.
One of the closest calls of the day could well be for the role as Central Council Delegate. The outgoing Chairman, PJ McGowan, has confirmed that he is going forward and the Sean MacCumhaills clubman is expected to run close the sitting delegate, Niall Erskine from Killybegs in what is expected to be a close vote.
Last year it cost approximately €1.5 million to run Donegal GAA, an increase of some fifty per-cent on the...