Captain Brendan Maher pictured lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September.
In his report to convention County Board secretary Tim Floyd celebrates a remarkable year for Gaelic games in Tipperary. Indeed, the Newport man regards 2016 as the most successful during his ten-year term as secretary.
“My tenth report to county convention will place on record the events of possibly the most successful of all my ten years. I thought 2010 would not be surpassed with senior hurling and under-21 hurling All-Ireland titles plus the under-21 football Munster win, but in 2016, achieving the senior hurling and minor hurling All-Ireland titles plus the performance of our senior football team in reaching the All-Ireland semi-final, marks the year out as very special,” reads Tim Floyd’s report to next Friday’s county convention which will take place in The Dome at Semple Stadium, Thurles (7.30pm).
“This was a year when Tipperary supporters walked tall and proud as the county (was) admired for the manner of our success,” writes Tim Floyd.
“Looking back, the 27th All-Ireland title was the culmination of years of planning and perseverance in which Mick Ryan played an integral part,” Tim Floyd adds before tracing the influence of Michael Ryan on the Tipperary senior hurling team since the Upperchurch-Drombane man was appointed as a selector under manager Liam Sheedy in 2008.
“Mick’s appointment as manager-elect before the 2015 season began was not met with approval in a lot of quarters, but surely it makes a lot of sense. At national level the president of the GAA is elected 12 months in advance and even in our county the chairman serves a three-year apprenticeship as head of the county CCC (Competitions Control Committee) before he assumes the higher office. Mick Ryan truly served his apprenticeship and learned from working alongside (Liam) Sheedy and (Eamon) O’Shea. When his time came he put his own stamp and cutting edge on the team which added to the flair and skill already there. The maturity of the players over the past six years also played a big part as they took responsibility and were very much self-motivated. So, well done to the management team, backroom (team) plus all the players for a perfect year,” reports Tim Floyd before adding, “and we are looking forward to 2017 already”.
In a comprehensive review of the respective 2016 inter-county campaigns Floyd highlights the Tipperary All-Ireland minor hurling success, describes the victory as “a massive achievement for Liam Cahill and his management team who shipped a lot of criticism in their first year following defeats to Limerick and Clare” and emphasises the appointment of Michael Bevans as coach as “the catalyst that drove this group to two Munster titles and to contest two All-Ireland finals”. Tim Floyd also describes minor hurling captain Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) as an “inspiration” who “deserved to climb the steps to receive the Irish Press Cup and claim Tipperary’s 20th All-Ireland minor hurling title”.
NEW ERA FOR FOOTBALL
In his review of an historic inter-county senior football campaign Mr Floyd describes Tipperary’s first championship victory over Cork since 1944 as “a perfect day” before progressing to describe the Premier County’s All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Galway at Croke Park, Dublin in detail.
“The final whistle was greeted by scenes of emotion and disbelief as supporters came to terms with another historic moment with Tipp qualifying for their first All-Ireland senior football semi-final since 1935 and recording their first championship win in Croke Park since the 1920 All-Ireland final. The Premier side had won the admiration and hearts of the country with their open, attacking football and minimum use of sweepers or defensive play,” reports County Board secretary Tim Floyd.
With regard to the All-Ireland semi-final defeat suffered at the hands of Mayo argues that the challenge now for Tipperary football is to “maintain this steady progress”.
“Since the arrival of John Evans in 2007 respect for football in the county has gradually grown and Peter Creedon’s reign consolidated this (growth) during his three years. Liam Kearns, in his first year as manager, has had to deal with the loss of leading players, but this allowed him to introduce new blood who seized the opportunity and made a massive impression. The challenge is now to build a stronger panel to carry the Premier County to even greater heights and the vision of a major title by 2020 is now a more realistic possibility,” writes Tim Floyd.
Indeed, secretary Tim Floyd dedicates a section of his convention report to the development of football in the county.
“The performance of our football teams in recent years begs the question: have we entered a new era for football in the county,” writes Tim Floyd.
The Newport man argues that Tipperary have proven that “we can now mix it with the big boys at the highest level” although Mr Floyd also describes the loss of Peter Acheson (emigrated) to the panel as “immense”.
It is interesting to note that Tim Floyd requests the senior football management team to “insist on total commitment for the full season as we cannot invest time and money in players pre-season and during the league to see them depart at a crucial stage”.
“Each year we plan that our senior hurlers will be contesting All-Ireland semi-finals and finals, maybe now we should also have the same plan for our senior football team,” reports Tim Floyd.
“When Barry O’Brien, during his term as County Board chairman, predicted that Tipp would win an All-Ireland senior football (title) by 2020 very few would have shared that view. Six years later we were just one step away from contesting the All-Ireland final,” reads the secretary’s report to convention.
Tim Floyd does argue, however, that the structure of the County Football Committee needs to be improved: “I believe the one area that can be improved is the structure of our County Football Committee. We need to examine ways to make it more productive and innovative. Under our bye laws over 100 delegates can be present at a monthly football committee meeting. Usually about 20 turn up as most clubs don’t send any delegate. Surely this needs to change as it’s very difficult to do business with such irregularity. We also need to draw up new terms of reference for the County Football Committee to define their role and purpose as there seems to be a lot of confusion in this area as we saw at their recent convention. I believe the Football Management Committee should examine all of this and bring forward draft proposals to (the) County Board. A lot has been done and achieved by Tipperary football in recent years, but we now need to drive forward from a revised and renewed base”.
UNDERSTANDING THE GPA
A section of the secretary’s report to the county convention is dedicated to “understanding the GPA” (Gaelic Players Association).
“Over the last 17 years the Gaelic Players Association have grown to become an integral part of the GAA and relationships between both bodies have cemented sufficiently to extend the partnership with a new financial plan up to 2020. Whilst there is strong recognition for the GPA at national level, there is still a lack of trust and an underlying suspicion of a desire for a pay-for-play as the ultimate objective amongst the general public. To create a greater understanding I will try and explain the reason and need for the existence of the GPA at this time when we now see a fresh call for a new Club Players Association,” reports Tim Floyd.
This section of Tim Floyd’s report is extremely detailed.
Tim Floyd describes the “outcry following Semple Stadium’s exclusion in the IRFU World Cup bid” as ironic considering that rugby “has never before been played at the venue and the reluctance originally to allow non-GAA games (to) be played on GAA pitches”.
Mr Floyd progresses to discuss the historic decision to amend rule 42 in April 2005 and open up Croke Park, Dublin to host both soccer and rugby games at the Jones’ Road venue.
“How things have changed over 45 years judging by the public outcry over Semple Stadium being excluded from the list of venues in the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Different reasons have been put forward for our failure to make the cut, but much of this is sheer speculation as I haven’t heard any official reason. We have heard about poor access, lack of accommodation, not a tourist area, but at the end of the day this was an IRFU decision (made) in conjunction with the consultants and bidding committee headed up by Dick Spring and its ambassador Brian O’Driscoll,” reports Tim Floyd.
“I am sure they had a long list of pre-requisites drawn up before they ever visited our stadium. I believe they went away after two visits very satisfied that our facilities and infrastructure were top notch. So, it seems when it came to ticking other boxes our location fell short. I believe we fell victim to a strategic decision which geographically selected venues based on capacity, location and tourism,” writes Tim Floyd.
Mr Floyd argues that, perhaps, “it’s better to get the bad news now”. Indeed, the Newport man suggests that “worse still we could have lost out on big GAA games as a result”.
As a potential solution to the club fixtures issue secretary Tim Floyd makes a particularly interesting proposal during the course of his report to convention.
Mr Floyd welcomes the recently-passed motion (St Patrick’s) at the November meeting of the County Board concerning the development of all-county leagues, but also draws on his personal experience in his search for a solution to the problem.
“My own club in 2016 did not play (in the) county league, but, instead, opted to play good club teams in other counties like Clare and Limerick,” reports Tim Floyd.
“Therein lies the answer. I believe the Munster Council should put leagues in place covering all the counties in the province. We see the success of the provincial and All-Ireland club championships and the manner in which clubs embrace them. Alternatively two or three counties could combine to avoid long distance travelling plus matches could be played home and away which would attract local support and ensure pitch availability. We need a fresh approach to leagues and I believe clubs would embrace and welcome a new initiative,” writes Tim Floyd before progressing to discuss the issue of dual clubs. Mr Floyd suggests that a group should be “set up to examine” the area and “reach a practical consensus”.
“This group could be drawn from county players and managers, CCC officers and rules advisory people who would all pool their views and come up with sensible solutions,” writes Tim Floyd.
Tim Floyd also argues that “separating the divisional championships from county would certainly streamline the county championships and should be considered if difficulties in reaching deadlines continue. If divisions want the status quo to remain they will have to produce workable fixtures plans”.
Indeed, Mr Floyd makes specific reference to the 1969-76 period when “we had separate divisional and county championships and they worked well”.
“Maybe it’s time to roll back the clock to systems that proved successful in producing Munster club and All-Ireland club champions,” writes Tim Floyd.
In his report to convention secretary Tim Floyd has called on Tipperary people everywhere to have their say in the new strategic plan. The “wheels” have been set in motion to develop a new strategic plan (2017-20) and one of the first steps in this process will be to seek out the opinions of players, officers and the general public via an online survey which will go live on the Tipperary GAA website in January.
“Everyone will now have an opportunity from their own computer or phone to complete the survey and have their say in the shaping of Tipperary GAA’s future. There are plenty of keyboard warriors who are very reactive on websites and social media when different issues arise. It’s always very easy to be wise in hindsight, but this is an opportunity for the genuine Tipperary supporters to be proactive and positive about the future,” reports Tim Floyd.
PRIDE IN CLUB AND COUNTY
“Personally, 2016 will stand out as one of the most satisfying years of my sporting life where I savoured the taste of success at both club and county level. To win All-Ireland senior hurling and minor hurling titles as an administrator with my beloved county would normally be classed as ideal in fulfilling one’s sporting ambitions, but to see my own club’s first team winning a county title is something very special,” Tim Floyd writes as he takes time to reflect on Newport’s successful county intermediate hurling championship campaign.
“Every club should experience it, as the out-pouring of joy and celebration spreads out into every corner of the parish and lifts community spirit to no end. Whilst county is almost the same thing on a broader scale, the club victory is shared by family, neighbours and friends we grew up with and shaped so much of what we are today,” reports Tim Floyd.
HOPES ARE HIGH
“Our hopes are high at the end of a busy year as we set out (on) the road for 2017. We are now the team to beat in senior hurling and to date we have handled the success well as there is a new maturity and will to win in this squad. Let’s hope for more of the same,” writes Tim Floyd in his conclusion.
“Our senior football team have now set the bar for themselves and tasted the smell of success in 2016. Maintaining this level is a serious challenge with the immediate target of league promotion from division three the main focus,” add Tim Floyd.
“During 2016 Tipperary was centre stage in both hurling and football which gave us all a great sense of pride. As the Premier County we demand the best from all our teams and as All-Ireland champions in senior and minor hurling we can hold our heads high going into 2017. Our senior footballers have given us fresh enthusiasm as we look forward with anticipation to repeat performances in the new season”.
MOTIONS TO CONVENTION
Clonmel Óg have proposed that the Tipperary County Committee deal with all juvenile grading appeals while Aherlow have submitting a motion which would rule out the playing of club championship games mid-week during the months of October and November. Aherlow have also proposed that players should only be asked to play a maximum of four championship games during a 20-day period.
The Borris-Ileigh club have submitted three motions to convention: (1) that clubs are provided with at least 30 days’ notice prior to the start of their respective divisional and county championships, (2) that all inter-county players be released back to their clubs at least five days prior to any club championship match and the third concerns restricting the period of time during which senior inter-county players shall not be expected to fulfil inter-club fixtures prior to inter-county championship games. Indeed, the Templederry Kenyons and Toomevara clubs have also submitted similar motions.
The Gortnahoe-Glengoole club has tabled a motion which relates to rule 6.22 of the official guide - an alteration to the official guide in this case would permit players who are not included in the match day inter-county panel of 26 players to be available to their clubs on weekends featuring both national league and senior championship games.
Gortnahoe-Glengoole have also proposed an amendment to rule 3.58, which reads: “The Gaelic Players’ Association is recognized as the official representative body for senior inter-county players”, be amended as follows: “The GAA accepts the right of players to have an official voice as the most visible and active group in our association. (a) The Gaelic Players’ Association is recognized as the official representative body for senior inter-county players. (b) The Club Players’ Association is recognized as the official representative body for club players at all grades eligible to play for adult teams”.
A motion from Solohead proposes an amendment to the parish rule bye law - that an under-21 or minor player, whose club do not field at the under-21 or minor grade, may then play at under-21 or minor level for another club in the county subject to the approval of the county board.
President: Matt Hassett (Toomevara), Vice-President: Michael Maher (Holycross-Ballycahill), Chairman: Michael Bourke (Upperchurch-Drombane), Vice-Chairman: John Devane (Boherlahan-Dualla), Treasurer: Michael Power (Newcastle), Assistant Treasurer: Liz Flanagan (Holycross-Ballycahill), Development Officer: PJ Maher (Boherlahan-Dualla), Coaching Officer: John Ryan (Golden-Kilfeacle), Officer for Irish Language and Culture: Seosamháin Ni Chathail (Thurles Sarsfields), Children’s Officer: Nicholas Moroney (St Patrick’s), Public Relations Officer: Joe Bracken (Moycarkey-Borris), Central Council Representative: Seán Nugent (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Munster Council Representatives: John Costigan (JK Bracken’s), Jimmy Minogue (Nenagh Eire Óg) & Gerard Ryan (Templederry Kenyons).