Those wishing to put forward their names to succeed Páraic Duffy as the next GAA director general have until Wednesday to apply. 

The inclusion of a third level business-related qualification in the notice for the position which Duffy vacates on March 31 might have cooled some interest, although it is believed to be more ‘preferable’ than essential.

Our reporter considers 15 possible candidates in the running to take over from the Monaghan man.

Jarlath Burns (Armagh)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

Currently the chairman of the playing rules committee, the former Armagh captain has filled a series of roles in the GAA from Central Council delegate in his own county to heading up the first players committee set up by Croke Park.

The principal of St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, Burns has declared interest in running to become GAA president.

John Costello (Dublin)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

The man behind Dublin realising it size and power will obviously be mentioned as a candidate although it remains to be seen whether he would be interested in putting his name forward.

The Whitehall Colmcilles man has held the secretary’s position in the capital for over 20 years now.

Pat Daly (Waterford)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

Known as one of the most innovative brains in the GAA, Tallow man Daly has been at the forefront of driving on Gaelic football and hurling in his brief as director of games development.

He is head of a growing department which now caters for the likes of Cúl Camps, Go Games, Super Centres as well as devising the GAA’s learning and coaching curriculum.

Dessie Farrell (Dublin)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

Appointing Farrell to the role would enrage some in the GAA but then the Na Fianna man has most if not all of the credentials required and CEOs of player bodies becoming CEOS of sports organisations isn’t anything new.

Farrell, who has set up his a business consultancy firm Compete With Compassion, continues to work in the background for the GPA.

Brian McAvoy (Down)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

In October 2016, McAvoy succeeded the late Danny Murphy as Ulster secretary after Murphy had retired the previous August.

The has been secretary of his club Burren and worked as the principal information officer in several government departments in the North before becoming head of the government advertising unit.

Feargal McGill (Leitrim)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

This year marks 10 years since the Boornacoola man was appointed director of operations.

His title now reads director of games administration and player welfare and in that time he’s been Duffy’s right-hand man.

Before that, he served six and a half years in Croke Park as information and publications officer working under former PRO Danny Lynch.

Peter McKenna (Longford)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

The director of Croke Park since 2001 and stadium and commercial director since 2011, McKenna has played a considerable role in boosting the GAA’s finances.

Before that, he was chief executive of Smurfit Publications, Smurfit Publishing and Design and

It is understood he was among the shortlisted three to succeed Liam Mulvihill in 2007.

Tomás Meehan (Galway)

Centre right
Centre right

Former Galway footballer Meehan, 40, became the GAA’s first chief information officer in 2015.

He has spearheaded initiatives such as the GRMA loyalty scheme for GAA members and is overseeing the Croke Park Smart Stadium Project, which will improve match-day experiences such as phone coverage and wifi.

He previously worked with PwC and AIB.

Alan Milton (Dublin)


The Round Towers, Clondalkin man was appointed director of communications in Croke Park having been head of the department since November 2015.

Prior to that, he was head of media relations and communications managers going back to 2009 when he was the GAA editor of the Irish Sun.

Simon Moroney (Clare)


Ennis man Moroney this week enjoys the fifth year of his second period as Munster secretary having stepped down from the role in 2008.

He has filled positions at county and national level from Central Competitions Controls Committee chairman to supervising the GAA’s plan to address Kildare’s financial predicament earlier this decade.

Pádraig Ó Ceidigh (Galway)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

A member of the GAA’s board of directors and a former chairman of the GAA’s research committee, the Connemara-born man is an accomplished businessman having established Aer Arann and Aer Lingus Regional and Foinse as well as being a member of the Seanad since 2016.

He was also on RTÉ’s governing board and is a qualified solicitor.

John Prenty (Mayo)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

The Ballyhaunis native is the long-standing Connacht secretary and like other candidates it remains to be seen if he would be moved to put his name forward, although the regard for his pragmatism in the association is strong and he is seen as a fearless operator in the province.

Michael Reynolds (Leitrim)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

The current Leinster secretary had played his part in a myriad of national committees before being appointed as Michael Delaney’s successor at the end of 2014 having initially filled the role in an acting position.

Charged with the responsibility of the largest province and the most polarised football one, Reynolds is overseeing efforts to bridge the gap.

Tom Ryan (Carlow)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

It’s 11 years this month that Ryan first took over the role of chief financial officer in the GAA before being given the director of finance role.

Along with McKenna, Ryan has been complimented for expertly steering the GAA through the recession and his knowledge of the association is hefty.

He worked with Brown Thomas beforehand.

Liam Sheedy (Tipperary)

The race is on to succeed Duffy

The 2010 All-Ireland SHC winning manager is a member of the GAA’s Management Committee and chaired the Hurling 2020 group.

Bank of Ireland’s director for Munster, the Portroe man is also a member of Sport Ireland’s board and chairman of their high performance committee.

The 48-year-old recently travelled as the GAA representative on the PwC All-Stars trip to Singapore.

Others of consideration:

Damian Byrne (PwC, Wicklow); Lisa Clancy (Former GAA director of communications, Dublin); Feargal McCormack (PKF-FPM Accountants Ltd managing director, Down); Cliona O’Leary (RTÉ deputy head of sport, Cork); Colin Regan (GAA community and healthy manager, Leitrim).


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