New GAA president Cooney outlines focus for next three years

New GAA President Christy Cooney has outlined some of his plans for his three-year term of office, following his inauguration at GAA Congress in the Rochestown Park Hotel in Douglas.

Cooney, who leaves his directorship role at FÁS behind him for the next three years, says that his presidency will be shaped by his own ideals as well as those of the GAA's grassroots membership.

"The focus for my presidency has been developed for the past 40 years working as a volunteer. While it has been influenced in recent times by meetings with members and clubs the basic focus remains focussed on the values that you believe remain important and that we need to strengthen," he said.

"You (GAA members) have told me that we need to have six core focus areas in the first year of my presidency and I will be measured on delivering these aims.

"The first is allowing the association to reach its potential over the last 125 years from humble beginnings in Thurles. The GAA has grown to become the most successful, voluntary sporting organisation in the world.

"This was achieved by groups of volunteers tirelessly working on behalf of the parishes they call home to build a priceless infrastructure and develop great games and a vibrant presence in ensuring that we are at the heart of every community in Ireland. A chairde this was achieved through a mixture of careful planning and hard work."

Cooney feels assured that there will be effective leadership shown by the GAA in relation to its finances in these times of economic uncertainty.

"Our economy here in Ireland like everywhere else is going through a difficult time and it is essential that we have plans in place to use our funds wisely. Cumann Lúthchleas Gael has endured tough times in the past and has always risen to the challenges presented.

"I have strong feelings about the need to continue driving forward - not at break-neck speed and helter-skelter fashion but in a carefully planned and considered way that consolidates and builds on the strides that we have made in recent decades.

"In that context the idea of borrowing funds should the need arise to sustain our ongoing development projects is something that we should not dismiss out of hand.

"We have no intention of retreating into a shell to become an insular, fearful organisation especially at a time when such good work is being undertaken on our behalf and so much of it on a voluntary basis.

"I have every confidence that like the country we can come through these challenging times and show real leadership like our founding fathers."

Cooney earlier praised outgoing president Nickey Brennan for his leadership qualities shown in driving the Association on over the past three years.

"For the last year I have been the apprentice - more recently in the last three months I have been working on a day-to-day basis with Nickey Brennan and Paraic Duffy in ensuring I take over the reigns seamlessly and continue the outstanding contribution in terms of work-rate and leadership that Nickey has brought to the association over the last three years.

"In business and within the GAA rarely have I come across an individual who has boundless energy, drive and enthusiasm and an overwhelming desire to improve the association on behalf of the membership which can be best summed up in saying he always did the right thing for the association. That is I believe what he will be remembered for and what a great legacy to leave behind.

"I particularly want to pay tribute to the dignity Nickey showed in the way he managed the sensitive and high-profile opening of Páirc an Chrócaigh to other sporting codes during his term.

"I wish him and his wife Mairead and children Nicola, Ciara, Conor and Orla well as the pattern of their family life returns to something approaching normality."

While alluding to his home county, Cooney believes that lessons have been learned from the recent Cork hurling dispute.

"We have had a couple of challenging months in Cork with a difficult protracted dispute where in the end there were no winners," he said.

"The lesson for us all to take in what has at times been a testing few months is the obvious need for proper and open lines of communication and a realisation that we are all members of the same association who are far more in common than some would have you believe."

He added: "We must put all of the difficulties of the past firmly behind us and move forward with optimism, hope and unity. I look forward to seeing the focus firmly back on the famous red jersey in the coming weeks and months for all of the right reasons."

Cooney also said that the GAA will be working hard to ensure effective Players' and Managers' Charters are in place.

"We promise you that we work hard in putting in place a players charter and a managers charter to ensure we have excellent relationships between all our inter-county teams, managers and county boards so that this type of issue will never be allowed happen again please God."

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