Hurling and camogie

Antrim chairman Collie Donnelly ruffles no feathers in convention address

Antrim county board chairman Collie Donnelly  
Jim Smyth

IN HIS maiden speech to the Antrim Convention at the Dunsilly Hotel, county chairman and Saffron Vision spokesman Collie Donnelly ruffled few feathers as he delivered his thoughts on what the county needs to reach the next stage.

In his six-minute address, Donnelly avoided contentious issues, preferring to focus on what he hopes will be a bright future for the county: “We need to find the personnel with the can-do attitude, the good communicators, the problem-solvers, those who don’t find fault but find a remedy,” he said.

“With managing any organisation comes responsibility and decision-making and at times we will not all agree. However, I would ask people to judge this county committee over the distance and, when our time passes, Antrim will be a better place.”

Donnelly also highlighted three issues he feels clubs should consider going forward, asking:  “Are our divisional boards working? Should our clubs consider amalgamating, particularly in Belfast? And are our development squads working?

“These are some of the questions that are being put to me on the ground and we should ask ourselves ‘What is the real goal? What is best for my county?’”

While he did cover a lot of the material already recorded in the secretary’s report regarding the progress or otherwise of the county hurling and football teams, Donnelly singled out the minor footballers as “the team of the year”, suggesting that with further nurturing they could go much further in the years ahead.

On the infrastructure front, Donnelly touched on the Dunsilly project and the unveiling of 4G pitches at Cliftonville and Woodlands, stressing the need for the further development of Gaelic games in Belfast with the drafting of the ‘Belfast Gaelic’ plan which will be presented to Croke Park.

He also commented on the Casement Park development, stating: “Ulster Council are in the final stages of submitting planning for Casement Park and, after numerous meetings, we are hopeful of finalising Antrim’s stake in this new provincial stadium in the not-too-distant future.”

The Antrim Business Forum was also mentioned and a presentation made by Paul McErlean, who revealed that 91 businesses have signed up: “It has demonstrated the goodwill from our business community and I would acknowledge the hours of work from those involved and a sincere thanks to all our sponsors,” said Donnelly.

While the debating of motions and recommendations took up a considerable part of the two-hour convention, in only one was a conclusion reached – and St John’s proposed restructuring of the hurling leagues failed.

All the others motions were put back for further consideration, including  a change to the rule regarding the transfer of youngsters which would now involve input from the Health and Wellbeing Committee.

One motion, which proposed the setting up of a five-man sub-committee to select the venues for all championship semi-finals and finals, was vehemently opposed by CCC chairman Owen Elliott.

Perhaps the only setback of the evening for the Saffron Vision movement was the loss of vice-chairman Malachy Delargy, who stood down in the hope of winning one of the two Ulster Council slots at the expense of former North Antrim chairman James McLean, but  the Dunloy man retained his position. 


Collie Donnelly (St John’s); Vice Chairman: Terry Reilly (Gort na Mona); Assistant Secretary: Paul O’Brien (Glenavy); Treasurer: Pol McCann (St Enda’s); Assistant Treasurer: Billy McLarnon (St Paul’s); Development Officer: Paul Molloy (Sarsfield’s); Coaching Officer: Liam McGoldrick (St Teresa’s); Language and Culture Officer: Bronagh Lennon (Aghagallon); PRO: Sean Kelly (St Malachy’s); Central Council Delegate: Philip Christie (Armoy); Ulster Council Delegates: Alex McQuillan (Glenravel), James McLean (Dunloy)

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