Successful National Camogie Congress

Roscommon Co. Camogie Board held a very successful National Camogie Congress at the weekend in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone. The proceedings got underway on Friday night with the arrival of the delegates from the four corners of Ireland and indeed representatives travelled from Europe and from the United States.   Roscommon Chairperson Geraldine Beattie-Greene addressed the gathering of the President Liz Howard and her staff from Ard Comhairle and the various delegates.    Geraldine commented that it was an honour for Roscommon to host the event and paid tribute to her hard-working committee for ensuring the smooth running of weekend.    Liz Howard, current President, addressed the gathering and welcomed all to the National Congress and paid tribute to Roscommon for taking on the onerous task of hosting same. She made reference to the fact that this was to be a historic congress insofar as a new president was to be elected with two candidates in the running, Joan O’Flynn from Kildare and Catherine O’Hara from Armagh.    Saturday morning saw the real business take place with reports from Ard Stiurthoir Sile De Bhailis who gave a very comprehensive account of the 2007 camogie calender. She praised the amount of work that the National Development Co-ordinator Mary O’Connor was carrying out in the promotion and development of the game of camogie. She also echoed the same sentiments towards the 7 Regional development co-ordinators. Their work involved the promotion of the game and the assistance in the establishment or revival of new clubs in different counties, through administration assistance and coaching workshops, etc.    Sile De Bhailis paid tribute to the numerous volunteers who give up much of their free time and dedicate this time to the game. The media were acknowledged for their help in promotion of the game. She thanked the National Sponsors Gala for their financial assistance and she finished up by congratulating all those teams who were All-Ireland winners from secondary schools, third level, to club and county.   President Liz Howard addressed the gathering during which she spoke of the way camogie was continuing to grow. She spoke of the establishment of the Regional Development Co-ordinators and complemented the work they carried out in conjunction with Mary O’Connor, National Development Co-ordinator, whose passion, love and commitment for the game is epitomised in the work that she carries out.    She paid tribute to the work of the national and local media in helping to promote the game in giving it the recognition it deserves.    The work of National Fixtures Administrator Bronagh Gaughan was acknowledged. Tribute was paid to All-Ireland medal winners in 2007 and a special tribute was paid in respect of the 2007 All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final between Cork and Wexford, where Wexford created history by capturing the O’Duffy Cup for the 1st time ever.    The sponsorship provided by Gala and Coillte for the setting up of the development squads was also acknowledged, along with the financial help provided by O’Neills, Energise, Voadfone and the Irish Sports Council.    In her summing-up address, the President acknowledged the work and effort of her fellow officers, she thanked National PRO Marie Ui Scolai who was stepping down from her role, a role which she occupied for 9 years and tribute was paid to Sinead O’Connor, Finance & Sponsorship Manager who was described as a valuable asset to the organisation, Bronagh Gaughan’s work as National Fixtures Administrator was complimented and there was praise too for Regina O’Gorman who was taking over Bronagh’s role within the organisation.    Liz Howard encouraged all those involved in the game of camogie to stay involved, work together, develop friendships and more importantly to enjoy the game.   National Director of Camogie, Cork dual player Mary O’Connor presented an excellent report on how much the game of camogie had developed over the past year. The appointment of the Regional Development Co-ordinators was a huge stepping stone within the organisation. Focusing on Connacht, 10 camogie workshops were run with 135 participants, the formation of a County Board in Co. Mayo was another stepping stone and their participation at Feile 07 was a tremondous achievement.    She outlined that camogie in general was going from strength to strength with the setting up of new clubs in different counties, 32 counties with 27 Co.  Boards, 529 registered camogie clubs in 2008 and in excess of 100,000 members, the introduction of 3rd level bursaries to camogie players, the establishment of Coillte sponsored underage development squads, and the introduction of Officer training.    Following addresses from keynote speakers, the various motions were discussed, and the business concluded with the voting of the new President. Joan O’Flynn of Kildare was elected. O’Flynn is a native of Cork and started her playing career with Fr. O’Neill’s club in East Cork, while she also spent time as a member of the London-Irish Camogie club. Since moving to Kildare she has thrown herself into the game at all levels and has served as PRO, County Secretary, County Chairperson and has also coached the minor team.  O’Flynn is Chairperson of the National Strategic Plan Committee and has been part of the Association’s Management Committee since 2006. She takes her up position in 2009.   Bishop Christopher Jones officiated at Mass that evening and a very enjoyable banquet took place later that night where the delegates got a chance to interact with one another.   This weekend however would not have taken place without the hard work  and organisation of Geraldine Beattie-Greene and her exemplary committee of Marion Conway, Marie O’Brien, Catherine Hoare and Caoilfhionn Ni Quinn. Gratitude was paid to these people and to Ciara Moran, Denise McDonnell, Maeve Healy and Catriona Morris who also assisted at the weekend. Roscommon Co. Camogie Board is also indebted to FGS Financial Accounts who generously sponsored the weekend’s events.