By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — The race for the GAA presidency turned out to be a one-horse affair at the association’s Congress in Dublin last weekend when Sean McCague swept to a surprisingly easy victory.
There was widespread expectation of a closely fought contest between Monaghan’s McCague and Albert Fallon of Longford. However, it was all over after only one count, with McCague polling 173 of the delegates’ votes against Fallon’s 85. The third candidate, Noel Walsh of Clare, received 66.
The outcome was a major reverse for Fallon, but he was able to take heart from the fact that three years ago, McCague had been comprehensively beaten for the post by current president, Joe McDonagh.
A 53-year-old primary school headmaster in Scotstown, McCague was a successful manager of the Monaghan football team in the late 1970s and early ’80s, bringing three Ulster titles and one League to the county. He carved out a reputation as a fearless administrator when he took over as chairman of the Games Administration Committee following a lengthy stint as Monaghan’s delegate on Central Council.
Meanwhile, McDonagh who has one more year of his presidency to run, said he had received assurances that the evacuation of the British security forces from the Crossmaglen Rangers’ property in County Armagh is about to begin.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
"The assurances given came from people of the highest stature and integrity and we must welcome the imminent full withdrawal from the ground," he said.
McDonagh also reminded Congress delegates that the GAA had pledged its intent to delete the controversial Rule 21, which prevents members of the British security forces from involvement in Gaelic games, as soon as steps are taken to introduce new policing arrangements in the North.
"This has been the first time this century that the GAA has made such a pledge and I hope we will indeed have a mandate and be in a position to honor this commitment as soon as possible," he said.
McDonagh also announced that more than £750,000 has been raised for the victims of last year’s Omagh bombing, and, once again, he strongly defended amateurism.
"There is no way that our association can ever support or sustain pay-for-play," McDonagh said. "Even if such payment were sustainable, it would destroy the ethos, fabric and structure of the association, leading to its demise."