Sunday ranks as one of the most important dates of the New York GAA calendar. On that day at the Lansdowne Bar in the Bronx, delegates will decide on their leaders for 1999. The two top positions, president and first vice president, are among the most hotly contested, with incumbents Monty Moloney and John Moore facing spirited challenges from, respectively, Liam Bermingham and Brendan O’Sullivan.
It is a sign of the good health of the GAA that there is such interest in these and other vital positions. What’s more, the high quality of the candidates is further indication that the GAA is on solid footing as it heads toward the millennium.
It is precisely because of the strength currently enjoyed by the GAA that we urge the return of the incumbents: Moloney, the president, and Moore, the first vice president. Individually and as a team, the two have done much to set the course for the organization. They are men of vision, principle and energy. They deserve the chance to keep their program on the rails for another year.
Indeed, few who attended the final Sunday of the 1998 season would deny that there’s a renewed vitality to Gaelic sports in New York under their leadership. A full house was present to watch the senior football and hurling finals contested on the same afternoon. Previous Sunday programs also enjoyed enthusiastic crowds. Contrast this with recent years past when on some days it seemed as though there were more players on the pitch than fans in the stands.
Success can be measured in other ways as well. For example, in 1999, for the first time in history a New York panel will vie for the Sam Maguire Cup, competing out of Connacht in the All-Ireland Championship. An event of that magnitude was unthinkable only a year ago. The fact that it is happening at all is testimony to the success of efforts by Moloney, Moore and others, Bermingham among them, to repair badly damaged lines of communication with Croke Park.
On the home front, thanks to the wisdom of the GAA leadership team, women’s and underage football clubs have been welcomed into Gaelic Park, sometimes for featured matches. It is easy to dismiss such a development as minor and insignificant. But that would be shortsighted. Strengthening bonds with related organizations, fostering a sense of community in a sporting environment, using the strength of one organization to empower another — all of these are positive and valuable endeavors whose primary benefit, namely a promising future for all involved, may not be evident next season or even the season after. This momentum should be allowed to continue.
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As in any organization blessed with strong personalities, the GAA has never been a stranger to internal conflicts. But Moloney and Moore have shown a knack for channeling the considerable passion of the GAA delegates and members in a productive way. Their methods haven’t always been embraced by everyone, but then leading an organization the likes of the GAA requires a degree of toughness that frequently makes as many enemies as friends. And though, true, they’ve come down hard on some clubs, few can seriously argue that they haven’t been evenhanded.
Moloney and Moore’s opponents, Bermingham and O’Sullivan, each has impeccable GAA credentials in his own right. Each has served effectively at the board and club levels. Each has much to offer the organization now and in the future. Their time to lead, however, is not the present. For the time being, they can best serve the organization in other capacities. The present belongs to the incumbents. The New York GAA’s future has never looked brighter.