By Eamonn Kelly
Mayoman Sean Gannon of Cleveland has become the new chairman of the North American County Board, replacing popular County Down-born Paddy Rooney, who declined a nomination for a third consecutive term. Prior to being chairman, Rooney served as secretary of the board for the previous four years. Gannon has been active on the board since its foundation in 1959. He last served as chairman in 1979 and has been registrar for the past four.
Staged recently at the Buckhead Holiday Inn Hotel in Atlanta, this year’s convention was rather tame in comparison with last year’s event in Philadelphia. This was due to a decrease in representation from several clubs and the fact that there were no real sensitive issues on the agenda. Sixty clubs from nine divisions around the country were represented at the convention.
While seven of the eight positions on the board went to a vote last year in Philadelphia, only the positions of vice chairman, secretary and treasurer required a ballot this year. The most closely contested office was that of secretary where incumbent Celia Lynn-Hawkins of Chicago had eight votes to spare over former secretary John Keane of Seattle. Central Division chairman Tom Dolan is the only new addition to the board. He topped the ballot in a run-off with Cyril Hackett (San Francisco), Andrew Healy (Washington, D.C.) and Connie Kelly (Boston) for the position of vice chairman. That position was vacated by Chris Knightly (San Francisco), who became the new registrar.
In a run-off with John Keane, Michael O’Connor retained the position of treasurer. In addition to the office of registrar there were no ballots required for the positions of PRO, youth officer and honorary president where Eamonn Kelly (Chicago), John O’Flynn (San Francisco) and Martin Kane (Boston) respectively were reelected.
Following is the complete board of officers for 2000:
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
Chairman, Sean Gannon (Cleveland); Vice Chairman, Tom Dolan (Chicago); Secretary, Celia Lynn-Hawkins (Chicago); Treasurer, Mike O’Connor (Boston); Registrar, Chris Knightly (San Francisco); Public Relations, Eamonn Kelly (Chicago); Youth Officer, John O’Flynn (San Francisco); Honorary President, Martin Kane (Boston).
In opening the convention, Atlanta division chairman, Michael Dermody, welcomed everybody to Atlanta and he read an invocation in memory of the late Dan O’Kennedy (Detroit), founder member of the board. Before leaving office, chairman Paddy Rooney thanked the Central Division and Chicago Gaelic Park for their superb handling of the 1999 national playoffs over the Labor Day weekend, Likewise, he congratulated the North East Division on the opening of their wonderful new facilities at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, Mass. He said it was a credit to Boston. In conclusion, Rooney asked the delegates to continue with their commitments to the new chairman and board of officers.
In his opening remarks, new chairman, Sean Gannon told the delegation to be aware of complacency. He said that while our county board remains strong and still growing he cautioned of the many challenges that lie ahead in the new century and urged that "we keep our organization in the forefront." He paid great tribute to the marvelous facilities of Chicago Gaelic Park and the trend that was set for other cities to follow suit such as Boston and Cleveland.
The motion that generated the most discussion which was submitted by the North East club, St. Columbkilles, pertained to the lack of guidelines for the winners of certain national championships to move up to the next highest grade. It was agreed that this motion be tabled for the NACB to review the process and arrive at a feasible solution.
The convention passed a regulation submitted by San Francisco club, Shannon Rangers, that all divisions including major divisions can compete in football junior "B" grade.
Also passed was a motion from John McBrides club in Chicago that player I.D. cards be renewed and updated every five years instead of three years.
In a consolidated motion submitted on behalf of cities with underage football programs it was agreed that each of those cities could enter a team in the junior "B" competition. Teams must consist only of players that came through the youth program of a given city. While this motion was passed on a one-year trial basis it is intended to replace the under 21 competition. However, another competition will be added as the Washington, D.C., Gaels club was successful with their motion to establish a junior grade for Camogie.
After a lively discussion, a motion that the registration deadline for home-based players be moved back to the last Sunday in May was defeated as it lacked the required two-thirds majority vote for passage. Also defeated was a motion requesting that the number of summer visitor players to play on the field at one time be increased from three to five.
Although there were no motions requesting changes to the national playoffs structure there was much discussion on the topic. As at previous conventions there was a call to limit the playoffs to semifinals and finals, with the quarterfinals to be played at designated locations before the end of August. While some delegates continue to express concern that successful completion of the annual playoffs over the three-day weekend is at risk under the current structure, the vast majority felt that no NACB city should be denied an opportunity to be part of this national tournament. Next year’s playoffs will be hosted by the North East division at the new Irish Cultural Center facilities in the Boston suburb of Canton, Mass.