Monday, February 16, 2009

Boston North East Board AGM

Emphasis on Youth as Connaughton Takes the Reins for 2009

By Rory O’Donnell

Bernie Connaughton will retake his place at the helm of the Boston North East Board for the fourth consecutive year. Having expressed his desire to leave the position open for a new Chairperson, Bernie decided to once again dedicate himself to the task of running the largest divisional board in the NACB.

The meeting took place on Sunday, February 8 at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton and was well attended. Much has been made in recent years about the difficulties facing the GAA in Boston and elsewhere in North America, however, there are exciting developments afoot that will secure the long term health of the local GAA. Notably present was Mike Moynihan, the Youth Development Officer, who briefed the delegates on the latest developments – and developments there were on that front. There are plans for a Catholic Schools Gaelic Football league on the south shore in the spring. Also, plans are in place for youth teams in Wayland, Acton, West Roxbury, Worcester, Dorchester, and Milton. Ellen Joyce of the Irish Sports Youth League also addressed the meeting and expressed the need for assistance on the coaching front and the importance of the adult clubs hooking into the youth programs and vice versa to bridge the gap between the youth and adult leagues.

Also in attendance, and underlying the changes that are taking place were delegates representing clubs in New Hampshire and Connecticut, signs that the GAA is expanding beyond its traditional catchment area of the greater Boston area. The Barley House Wolves of New Hampshire and the Hartford GAA club were present. Each club has plans not only to develop its adult teams but also to begin underage programs.

The North American Board Finals will take place for the second consecutive year at the Irish Cultural Center. The Artane Band, formerly known as the Artane Boys Band, will play at both the Boston Divisional Finals on the last weekend of August and the North American Finals on Labor Day weekend. For those not familiar with the band, the band was founded in the Artane industrial school on Dublin’s northside, and was initially made up exclusively of boys. The band is now composed of boys and girls. The band has been a major part of the atmosphere on big match days in Croke Park since 1886. The tradition of the parade of the teams behind the band just before the beginning of the game gets the crowd going and is quite an unforgettable sight for anybody who has ever been in attendance.

The officers elected for 2009 were: Honorary President - Jim Grogan, Chairperson - Bernie Connaughton, Vice Chair - John Farrell, Secretary - Sharon O'Brien, Assistant Secretary - James Walsh, Treasurer - John McDevitt, Assistant Treasurer - Cathal Brady, Registrar -Raymond Brady PRO - Nollaig Beneid, Youth Officer - TBA, Trustees - Eddie Feeley, Pat Kenneally, Bernie Reilly.