Birmingham takes top slot in NYGAA elections

[caption id="attachment_68307" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Consul General Noel Kilkenny, Rosie O’Reilly of the Ladies NYGAA, and Larry McCarthy, outgoing chairman of the NYGAA, at Friday’s Consulate reception honoring the New York team’s achievement in reaching the All Ireland ladies junior championship final, which took two games to settle in Wicklow’s favor at Croke Park in Dublin. Next week’s Echo will feature more pictures from the reception."]


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The collective attention of the New York GAA delegates was sharply focused on the ballot box as the outgoing Chairman Larry McCarthy began to read the ballots. Though there was no white smoke emitted at the end of the count, a vale of anxiety evaporated as it became clear that the top three positions would be undisputed. As predicted the races were close with contestants and delegates periodically breathing sighs of relief and desperation as the lead switched back and forth. However when the tallying was done Liam Birmingham had the edge on Brendan O’Sullivan by 29 votes to 24 for the Chairman’s position. In the race for the Vice-Chairman’s position the margin of victory was the same as Laurence McGrath held of the challenge of Tommy Fahey.

The race for the Secretary’s position was the closest with Joan Henchy initially jumping into a sizeable lead but Mary Murphy finished strongly to be ahead by 28 votes to 25. Overall there were 53 votes cast out of a maximum of 58. The Astoria Gaels club failed to vote while the Sligo club only cast one of their two votes, plus two officers were also absent, thus accounting for the total of the 5 unused ballots.

Naturally elections bring jubilations and disappointments but the outgoing Chairman McCarthy noted that it was a very vibrant sign of the Association when the top three positions were being contested by six very experienced and committed officials. Liam Birmingham, in his acceptance speech, paid tribute to the great work that his challenger had done over the years and urged him to stay involved as the GAA greatly need people of O’Sullivan’s caliber in these challenging times. He added that his primary mission would be to have the buildings in Gaelic Park developed to coincide with the centenary in 2014. In addition his views on shortening the season would be music to the ears of many managers while he also stressed that the GAA must be realistic about immigration issues.

Birmingham’s vision is that the GAA must play a much greater role in developing a greater sense of community but that will entail a great commitment in terms of personnel and financial resources so that Gaelic Park becomes a flourishing home for the New York GAA. This will be his second time at the helm as he was the Chairman in 2003 and 2004. Brendan O’Sullivan, in his concession speech, noted that although that he was very disappointed, he was gracious in his congratulatory remarks to the Chairman elect. He thanked all the clubs who supported him while he also congratulated Laurence McGrath and Mary Murphy on their victories. The former Vice-Chairman took his defeat philosophically and gamely, noting that life is full of ups and downs. O’Sullivan concluded by wishing all the officials well plus he stated that he was very proud to be so closely associated with the GAA all these years.

As he has been at the coalface in the development of Gaelic Park, he urged everyone to stay involved so that the Irish could have a facility that they could be immensely proud of.

In the other races Tommy Fahey stressed too that he was disappointed, but he respected the wishes of the delegates while wishing Laurence McGrath well in his new post. McGrath responded by thanking the delegates and also noted that the elections were conducted in a very sporting manner.

Similar sentiments were expressed by the candidates for the Secretary’s position, namely the winner Mary Murphy and the loser Joan Henchy. Though they were pitted as adversaries over the last two weeks, the two women noted that sportsmanship was paramount while their friendship was as steadfast as ever.

In essence that is one of the attributes that makes the GAA such a great organization, namely that your friend and foe are often interchangeable, with the friendship role always the more enduring. The full Executive Board of the New York is as follows for the 2012 season: Chairman Liam Birmingham, Vice-Chairman Laurence McGrath, Secretary Mary Murphy, Assistant Secretary Seamus McNabb, Treasurer John Phelan, Assistant Treasurer Liam Moffat, Youth Officer Denis Twomey, Coaching Officer Alan Hearty, PRO Frank Brady.