Limerick peace deal brokered

Tom Ryan: Had been nominated to lead a five-man intermediate selection management committee but this was rejected.

The Limerick intermediate team is still without a manager, but, in a compromise that was backed unanimously at a meeting of the county board in Claughaun GAA club last night, the dispute that had threatened to throw the county back into the chaos it had witnessed only three years ago was finally resolved.

A committee led by county board vice-chairman Pat Heffernan had nominated controversial former senior manager Tom Ryan to lead a five-man intermediate selection management committee but in a surprise move, this nomination had been rejected by the management committee.

After a sometimes stormy meeting last night that lasted just over an hour, however, a compromise was reached — in 2014 the Limerick intermediate hurlers will have the five selectors (Tom Ryan, Jimmy Carroll, Don Flynn, Pat Howard and Tony Roche) as suggested by Pat Heffernan’s committee, but all of those will have equal status, none will have the title of ‘manager’.

A bullet dodged? Not quite, according to county board chairman Oliver Mann. “I wouldn’t call it that but I am relieved that for the sake of Limerick GAA we reached a conclusion that was acceptable to all, management and clubs.”

That was very important, that we got out of here tonight united and into our convention this Sunday on a positive note. It would have been a real pity if what had been a great year for Limerick GAA had ended on a sour note. We won the Munster titles in minor and senior hurling, the footballers were promoted to division three, the ladies also did well, won their league and got to an All-Ireland final, while we hosted a hugely successful Féile. All in all it’s been a great year for Limerick GAA — this was just one discordant note in what had been a fantastic season.”

The meeting, a resumption of the regular county board monthly meeting of two weeks ago which ended in discord and confusion, was meant to discuss two new motions that had been brought forward by the Management committee but the legitimacy of that procedure was strongly challenged by a number delegates, Garyspillane’s influential Jim Dooley in particular.

With the meeting threatening to spill over into rancour and dispute, however, an appeal from one delegate, Pat O’Donnell (Chairman West Board) proved decisive.

“I firmly believe there should be no vote, that this will lead only to confrontation, to a split in the clubs,” said Pat, “what is to be gained by it? Nothing. There will be no winner — all we’ll have are losers all over the place. If the motion is lost, the officers are in a perilous position; if it’s won, our noses (club delegates) will have been rubbed in it. Biggest loser of all though will be Limerick GAA. I’m ashamed to be here to see what’s going on. In any dispute there has to be compromise. Both sides have now backed themselves into a corner — how do you get out of that corner? You stand back and attempt to solve the problem.”

And with that, Pat came up with a compromise. “If the delegates here are truly interested in the good of Limerick hurling, then let us take ownership of this problem.

“I suggest that Tom Ryan should be the crossover selector between the U21s and the intermediates and that Don Flynn should be the intermediate manager.”

To facilitate that suggestion being turned into a motion, the chairman then suspended Standing Orders. First though, Paul Foley (Patrickswell), who had been on the committee with Pat Heffernan, proposed his own motion, that the delegates should vote on the original recommendation of that committee, that Tom Ryan should be the new intermediate manager.

Pat O’Donnell’s motion was then proposed and seconded, with an amendment by John Stapleton, that there should be no named manager, just the five selectors.

Just as motion and counter-motion were to be put to the floor, however, and before that divisive vote could be taken, one final twist.

Carmel Murphy (Kilfinane, the same club as Pat Heffernan) made a plea, asked that Pat’s original suggestion be acted on, that they should be unanimous in whatever was decided. With that, Paul Foley took the floor and to great applause, withdrew his motion. Never a dull moment in the Treaty county.

Good news on the financial front is that the board has returned to profit.

After making a loss of €80,313 in 2012 they have returned to profitability, being €6,661 in the black.


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