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GAA junkets to get the chop?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

New York GAA officials may take a significant step towards eliminating junkets for intercounty stars to the Big Apple at their annual convention this Thursday night, Feb. 15.

A motion before the board requests that weekend sanctions should be abolished for all junior teams for the upcoming season. Proponents believe such a move would result in a leveling of the playing field for all teams.

Several delegates are adamant that intercounty players are responsible for the present unwillingness of clubs to compete in the Junior "A" division. Fermanagh delegate John Joe McGovern said that five teams is not enough to run a successful league.

"We need up to 10 teams playing in Junior ‘A’ for the lads to stick around," he said. "If there aren’t games every second weekend, then the players drift away and are lost for the season. Nobody wants to get hammered by an influx of all-stars, so maybe it’s time for change."

Several clubs who support the motion feel the financial discrepancies between teams often results in the club with the most money winning the silverware. The secretary of the Junior board, Eugene Kyne, said that the Astoria Gaels GFC may consider moving up to Junior "A" but that the weekend sanctions would first have to be abolished.

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St. Raymond’s delegates said they would also consider filling a spot in Junior "A" division if weekend sanctions were eliminated.

The structure of the junior league is still uncertain, but it appears that eight teams will now compete for the John F. Kennedy trophy, with the remaining clubs in the lower division. The Monaghan club has proposed eight teams in the "A" division, with the remainder in "B". A proposal from Down is more complex, involving eight junior "A" teams, with the top four making the playoffs and the bottom four afforded the opportunity to join the qualifiers from the "B" series. The "B" division would contain three sections with the teams drawn openly.

A full list of clubs should include, Down, Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Sligo, Kerry, Astoria, St. Raymond’s, Armagh, Monaghan, New Haven, Cavan, Offaly, Rockland, Stamford, Roscommon, Brooklyn, Mayo, Long Island Gaels, Westmeath, Galway, Derry, Meath, Rangers, St. Barnabas, Kilkenny and Dublin.

A question mark still hangs over the participation of Celtics. Delegate John Cox confirmed this week that if their players are not allowed to transfer up to the senior division, then the club will fold. The next meeting of the Junior board takes place on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Will you be my Valentine?

GAA President Monty Maloney won’t have any roses or chocolates for Manhattan College officials when they meet later tonight (Feb. 14) to discuss the future working relationship between the two bodies. Maloney will, however, be attempting to sweeten the present relationship and gain extra benefits for the association.

The GAA are considering a change of status regarding gate receipts at Gaelic Park and may offer the college a lump sum at the start of the season instead of 50 percent of all gate receipts. Last year, Manhattan College received $83,000 from the GAA. Up for discussion also are weekly permits for the New York footballers, hurlers and women.

Maloney is well aware of recent criticism regarding the standard of the playing surface at Gaelic Park and it is generally expected that new sod and a sprinkler system will be discussed at the meeting.

Florida 7-a-side

Sun, sand, surf and "soccer." Oops! Sorry. That should, of course, read Gaelic football. The annual GAA Florida 7-a-side is set to kick off on March 10 and Terry Conaughton advises that those who are eager to improve the tan lines before the GAA season gets in full swing should get their house in order this week.

"All clubs are welcome for the weekend and the St. Pat’s club are planning an even bigger and better tournament than last year," he said.

The weekend of activities is looked upon by many manager as a morale-building and bounding exercise for all club members. All clubs interested in traveling must contact Conaughton at (718) 549 9946.

The Cavan club have also announced that the John Joe Cassidy New York 7s tournament will be played this year on March 25 and include 16 teams.

‘Shock’ at English version

of Amhran na bhFiann

The vice president of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland, Sean Kelly, said he was shocked to hear the national anthem of Ireland sang in English at the GAA annual dinner dance at the Astoria Manor last Saturday night.

"We were formed to promote Gaelic games, Irish culture and our language and it was disappointing to see Amhran na bhFiann sang in English," he said.

Kelly, who is a fluent G’ilge speaker and chairperson of the international games committee, addressed the banquet in his native tongue at first. He said that Croke Park are very impressed that everything is above board now in New York and that the association is delighted to have the senior footballers, hurlers and women now competing in the annual championships.

He told the Echo after the banquet, however, that he was a little surprised and disappointed that the New York association isn’t promoting the Irish language. He said he had never heard the English version of Amhran na bhFiann performed at a GAA outing.

"I thought at first that it was the American anthem," he said. "The strange thing to me was that everyone was trying to sing the song in Irish and it appeared that very few knew the English version."

Kelly is hot favorite to become the next president of the association in Ireland and will be of vital importance to the association in the Big Apple over the next few years. He told the packed banquet that he was in general very impressed with what he saw and heard from Monty Maloney and his board of officers.

Banquet chairperson John Moore said it was the first time the Irish national anthem was sung in English at the GAA dance. However, it didn’t surprise him.

"A lot of associations and organizations sing Amhran na bhFiann now in English and I don’t think anyone really minds which language is used," he said.

Mary McGonigle who sang the national anthem, is from Belmullet, which is in the heart of the Mayo Gaeltacht.

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