While the debate has caused rancour in some counties, there were few dissenting voices as both motions passed with overwhelming majorities.
In Dublin, Kilmacud Crokes proposed giving Central Council the power to sanction which what other sporting events can take place within Croke Park, and that use of the stadium must be maximised for the benefit of the Association. The motion passed by a whopping majority, 174 votes to 34, something which must have delighted GAA president Sean Kelly, guest of honour at the convention.
At the same time in Cavan, a similar motion proposed by Ramor United was also passed.
Their proposal gave Central Council the mandate to open Croke Park up to other sports, but it related to Croke Park alone. Neither should other sporting events held in the stadium interfere with existing GAA fixtures. It passed with a 95% majority.
“The view in Cavan would have been consistent for some time that we are in favour of opening Croke Park up to other sports,” said Cavan secretary Gerry Soden. “And that was reflected in the vote. It is a strong personal opinion and a strong opinion of our current chairman. No delegates spoke out against the motion.”
In his address to the Dublin convention, Sean Kelly believed the future is looking very bright for GAA in the capital.
“I am delighted to say that things are moving for Dublin and that the resources are being put in place to help development within the county. I think the investment will be rewarded and the GAA will be stronger as a result,” the President said, attending his first county convention outside Kerry.
It was also announced that flood-lighting work will begin on Parnell Park early in the New Year, before the end of February at the latest.
Leinster council chairman Nicky Brennan also warned delegates of that there is a football/hurling split brewing in within the county, and stressed that this issue most be resolved as a matter of urgency.
Dublin’s Director of Hurling, Diarmuid Healy, told the convention of the continued problems the game faces in the capital, emphasising that the era of the dual player in gaelic games has come to an end.
“All the top hurling people agree with that view,” said Healy. “It is a thing of the past. Hurling is a discipline that requires constant practice. It’s no good playing hurling once a week. A youngster should be hurling every day of the week. If changes are to be made in Dublin hurling, we have to change our culture of thinking. If we don’t change, things will continue in the same old way. Dublin hurling is not doomed. There’s huge enthusiasm there. It’s just a matter of bottling that enthusiasm.”
Dublin’s John Bailey was returned unopposed to the chair of Dublin GAA and also defeated Gerry Brady for the Central Council seat. Brady had been Dublin’s representative on the Central Council for ten years, but was defeated 146 votes to 72.
The most frank discussion at Parnell Park concerned the Dublin Football Strategic Review Committee proposals and Dublin delegates will be meeting on the matter again.
At the Meath county convention, Rule 42 wasn’t even discussed and there were no motions put forward on the status of Croke Park. County Chairman Fintan Ginnity was returned for a 19th term, defeating vice-chairman Brendan Dempsey 124 votes to 32.
Dempsey did not stand for the vice-chairmanship and Liam Keane, the only other candidate, withdrew due to work and family commitments, leaving the county board without a vice-chairman. Clubs will now nominate their choice of candidate before January’s county board meeting.