Hosted by the Western Divisional Board and staged at the Fisherman’s Wharf Holiday Inn Hotel, this year’s convention involved the biggest attendance in several years. Highlight of the convention was the attendance of several GAA officials from Ireland who were in San Francisco for the Gaelic football All-stars exhibition game in conjunction with the grand opening of the new Pairc na Gael inTreasure Island.
In addition to President Nickey Brennan and Secretary General Paraic Duffy, also in attendance were Sheamus Howlin (Overseas committee chairman), Tom Daly (Ulster Council Chairman), John McElroy (GAA Management), Albert Fallon (GAA Trustee), Lowery Quinn (Connacht Council), Gene Duffy (Chairman GAA Finance committee). In addressing the delegation, Nickey Brennen expressed his delight in getting the opportunity to speak at a NACB convention and saluted the board on the progress that has been made in the promotion of Gaelic Games throughout North America. He especially cited the work being performed under the NACB Games Development program headed by Mike O’Connor and added that funding will continue to be made available from Croke Park for youth development under the existing successful structure. The president made reference to the restructured summer sanction rules that allows unlimited ji visa players to play with NACB clubs but prohibits inter-county players from obtaining sanctions. He felt that the rule changes has been a success and in the best interest of the promotion of games in the NACB and satisfies the concerns of clubs in Ireland. However, he expressed concern that some clubs registered sanction players from Ireland above the quota allowed by rule.
Overseas Committee Chairman Sheamus Howlin also addressed the convention with complimentary remarks about the progress that has been made in youth development during his tenure in office. In stating that his chairmanship will end next April he assured the delegates that the new administration under the presidency of Christy Cooney will commit to the same level of support to the overseas units as the current administration. Ray Bassett, from the Department of External Affairs, who was with the visiting officials, spoke briefly to the delegates. In acknowledging his department’s contribution to the San Francisco Treasure Island project, he congratulated the local committee for the work and dedication to completing the initial phase of the project. Bassett indicated that he was confident that funding from the Irish Government for the development and promotion of Irish sports overseas will continue into the future despite the economics downturn. The visiting officials remained at the convention for two excellent Power Point presentations on the Games Development Program given by NACB Youth Officer, Mike O’Connor, and North American Games Development Coordinator, Mary Ruane. Before the officials departed the NACB presented appreciation awards to Nickey Brennan, Sheamus Howlin and Gene Duffy.
Former NACB officers, Chris Murray (Detroit) and John O’Brien (Cleveland) were elected convention chairman and secretary respectively to conduct the election of officers for the 2009 NACB board. It was the most competitive election in several years with nominations submitted for all positions with the exception of Treasurer. After the completion of a roll call it was determined that the total vote count would be 168, the largest in several years. Mike O’Connor (Boston), who completed 5 years as NACB Youth Officer, and Joe Lydon (Boston), outgoing secretary, were the only competitors for the position of chairman. Bernie Connaughton (Boston) was also nominated for the position but he declined the nomination. Lydon became the new chairman with a vote of 89 to 77. The most closely contested office was that of vice-chairman where 5 candidates were submitted for the position. After Tom Dolan (Chicago), Liam Moloney (San Francisco) and Mike O’Connor (Boston) declined the nominations it left for a runoff between Paul McCarthy (Philadelphia) and Gareth Fitzsimons (Chicago) with McCarthy edging out by 2 votes, 84 to 82. With incumbent Joe Lydon already elected as chairman, two candidates, Liam Moloney (San Francisco) and Harry Costello (Chicago) remained on the ballot for secretary. With Costello declining the nomination Moloney became the new secretary. There was no opposition against the incumbents in the positions of Registrar and Treasure so Mary Prendiville (Chicago) remains Registrar and Malachy Higgins retains the position of treasury. For the first time in many years there was competition for the position of Public Relations Officer with the nomination of Paddy McDevitt (Boston) against incumbent Eamonn Kelly (Chicago). Kelly retained the position with a vote of 92 to 71. Outgoing chairman Tom Dolan was elected Youth Officer after John O’Flynn (San Francisco) declined his nomination. Bernie O’Reilly (Boston) was elected to the position of Honorary President and Mike O’Connor (Boston) became the new NACB Central Council Delegate.
Following is the newly elected board of officers for 2009:
Chairman, Joe Lydon (Boston); Vice-chairman, Paul McCarthy (Philadelphia); Secretary, Liam Moloney (San Francisco); Treasurer, Malachy Higgins (San Francisco); Registrar, Mary Prendiville (Chicago); PRO, Eamonn Kelly (Chicago); Youth Development Officer, Tom Dolan (Chicago); Honorary President, Bernie O’Reilly (Boston): Central Council Delegate, Mike O’Connor (Boston).
With time becoming a constraint the new board dealt immediately with the 30 motions on the agenda. Of those submitted, 13 were either withdrawn, deemed out of order or were considered duplicates of other motions. The first motion on the agenda from the Boston Eire Og Camogie requesting that the new J1 visa players not be counted towards sanction quotas for each team was withdrawn after clarification was issued by the board after direction from Nickey Brennan that all J Visas will be handled as inter-county transfers. The motion that generated the longest discussion was submitted by the San Francisco Fog City Harps club which was seeking the reduction of sanction players on the field at one time from 8 to 5 in senior camogie, which ended up being defeated. Most significant of the motions passed was one from the San Francisco Sean Treacy club requesting a deviation from the Official Guide rule that issues time suspensions for category 1 and 2 offences. The clubs’ motion requests that the punishment in the NACB for such offences should by missed games rather than time suspensions because of the extremely short NACB playing season.
Before the convention came to a conclusion it was confirmed that the 2009 playoffs will be held in Boston with the 2010 playoffs scheduled for San Francisco. A motion from Philadelphia to host next years NACB convention, it being the 50th university of the first NACB convention in Philadelphia, was defeated in favor of holding the convention in Chicago.