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Chairman's Address to Club AGM - 29 November 2020

It was a year of huge change, a year that family and friends had to stay apart for long periods of time.

A year that we as a club should be glad and grateful that adults and underage got to play so much hurling and football. Not alone was it just about playing this year, in doing so allowed so many people both adults and children with an outlet to release the stresses brought about by lockdown.

Aodh Ruadh should be proud of how, through its members, the club helped our wider community during the Covid 19 lockdowns. It struck a cold note of loneliness for me standing on the road for Sean Gavigan's funeral back at the end of March. It has been an extremely hard time for all families that buried loved ones since March. So cold without the support and hugs of their community.

Thanks, and praise must go to Tom, David and all at the park committee. In a start-stop year with fixtures changing a lot, all games and training were facilitated. Thanks to Peter and Johnnie on game days for their help. Thanks also to Maeve Fenton and the scheme workers for their hard work in a difficult year. We all will require patience when the park is being redeveloped in 2021 and 2022.

Hurling continues to develop at underage, a huge credit to all involved there. The under 14 county final was a stand-out moment for me this year. A special word of thanks to John Rooney as he stands down as Juvenile Chairperson. The club owes a huge debt of gratitude to John for over 30 years of hard work with hurling in Aodh Ruadh. It will be without doubt big shoes to fill for the club.

As Conall Gallagher steps down as Secretary of the Hurling committee, with hurling in his heart, I know it is difficult for him step back. He has given everything to hurling and the park committee over the years. I wish him and John all the best, although I am sure both will not be far away!

Despite all the restrictions of 2020, Ladies football at all age levels is in a great place. In no small part of this has been Patricia's involvement in Ladies over the last number of years. As Trish and Kathleen step down from the ladies committee, I want to extend my sincere gratitude and I wish them both well. I am sure both will be giving of their time going forward for ladies' football and anything Aodh Ruadh related.

It is great to have Sarah Daly in the Chair with Louise Larkin as secretary, a dynamic duo! Both will bring lots of passion and experience to their roles and I wish you the best of luck with it for the next five years!

In Bord na nÓg, thanks to David, Lisa and Packie for all their hard work. The Aodh Ruadh Academy was launched back in January and was a huge highlight of 2020. The excitement and energy on the night was brilliant. This has been matched and driven during 2020 despite the effect of Covid 19.

To all the people who took up Covid officers with the teams. It was a big commitment and parents and kids should be hugely grateful to these people. To Lisa who took on the Covid Club officer role. Games or training would not have happened. Thanks to you from all in the club, adults, kids and parents. Also, thanks from all committee members, you took the role that everyone was avoiding!

Thanks also to Tom and county board officials on how to deal with live COVID-19 issues. Without the hard-working officials from County Board under the stewardship of County Chairman games would not happen, especially this year

The most difficult area within Covid for the club and I know Lisa and Sabrina felt this hard also, was not allowing supporters, or only one parent into games. It was a rule that we truly took no joy in enforcing, but in the context of letting the kids continue with games and ensuring public health safety it was the correct thing to do.

Fundraising is always the hard part of any year. Thanks to Catherine and her small lotto group, who perform every Sunday night. It is always enjoyable waiting for Catherine's next virial clip and dramatic acting... on her bicycle. It cheered everyone up and drives extra sales. So good it should be a pay to view!

To Packie with his work on club gear in January, this brought in much needed money to invest in the underage Aodh Ruadh Academy structure.

To Chris Kelly and family, their work every year on club gear is immense. But the Sept 2020 gear sales which has just finished outshines all previous. Credit to Marty O Reilly for how easy they are to deal with. This was a one-man club fund-raiser run by Chris, thanks.

Thanks to all involved in the Golf Classic, great year for it with so many new people playing. It would not have happened without Diarmaid and Donagh McInerney, Philip McLoone, Diarmaid Keon. Daithi Breen, Sabrina, Lisa and Eva on the day. Thanks to Ronan Matthews for the photos on the day.

Thanks to John Rooney on Last Man Standing, Ladies for the soup sale, Dicey Quiz, and bucket collection, to David O'Donnell for the Millstone night, to Alan Sweeney on jerseys and many others.

Without all these fund-raisers the club would not make ends meet. Thank you all.

To our sponsors this year the people who give without asking.

Mr Oilman, Ray McGee, Thomas McGann, Kernan's Spar, Mr G's to list just a few among many.

Please always support all our local shops and business. All these business support jobs and our community.

As we move on with new sponsors on the Senior adults' teams, special thanks to Maurice Mc Laughlin who has supported the club financially for well over the last ten years.

On a personal level, the job could not be done without Catriona and the support I receive at home.

Within the club setting with Lisa and Sabrina on each side, I would not be able to complete the task as chairman. Lisa s passion for the club and work rate is second to none. Sabrina passion probably for hurling! Sabrina minds every cent and fights with me on how to spend it. We don't all agree all the time but can debate all issues. Thanks to you both. To all the other club people I leaned on this year, thank you, your ability to listen was invaluable.

Over the last two years through a combination of fund-raising, clearing one loan and paying down the other, Sabrina, Lisa and myself are ensuring that the club finances are being tightly controlled. This sometimes causes friction, but this is also a positive. We only want the club to stay on a secure financial path. Over this time, we have recognized that the running costs of the park is in the region of €500 per month. We have also given across €15,000 to the Park Development fund and helped raise approximately €20,000 in National Draw sales.

We are here to ensure, that when the newly developed Father Tierney park is complete that as little further debt is taken on. Funding from Sports Capital, Croke Park and Ulster will dry up due to Covid 19 for a period. We need to keep this in mind.

We sit in a reasonable financial position now, but all sub committees need to look at how they cover their costs in 2021, what they spend and do they need to spend it. Aodh Ruadh's catchment area does not have the employment it once had. This has been further hit with Covid 19. We need not try and fund-raise too often as the mood out there in the community could quickly turn very sour or negative against the club.

Some priorities for the coming year.

2020 Aodh Ruadh Intermediate County Champions. What can I say?

Being in O'Donnell Park for the final was a special, but humbling experience.

There are so many other Aodh Ruadh supporters that should have been in O'Donnell Park ahead of me. To be there at the final whistle and see Johnny and Nathan lift the Cathal McLaughlin cup, I was extremely proud of the players. Both spoke so well afterwards. The players truly believed in themselves on the day, their grit and determination in Killybegs against Glen showed me how much they wanted this county final. Thanks to the players for allowing me to experience your team, your joy and your reward in winning.

The drive by home coming gave the whole town a much-needed lift. A great moment that evening was getting a photo with Owen Roe outside the bar.

To Damien, Greg, John, Ronan, Brian, Yvette thanks from all at the club for your hard work with the team.

A sincere thanks to Barry, always pushing to get the best out your players and management team. Your main aim was to drive success in the senior team and in turn drive on the club, thank you. To you all who give up so much personal time, Thank you one and all.

On now to Christmas and 2021. I want to wish you all health and happiness over the Christmas period, stay safe and healthy. Looking forward to a busy 2021 with hopefully less restrictions and more sport.

William Doogan

Last modified: Sunday, 6 December 2020 at 10:10am