Last Monday night saw a good turnout for the delayed club Annual General Meeting where members reviewed a very active 2016 and turned attention with new committee on board to making 2017 a great year for the club.
Club secretary Mark McGrath delivered a detailed summary of 2016’s highs and lows covering everything from the All-Ireland Scor win to the hugely successful Griddle again drawing large numbers. He started by thanking all those who had helped the club in anyway during the year, especially those who continued to do the many small jobs that need to be done around a club and that are in many ways are taken for granted but that set the platform for the important work to flourish. Across the teams was a year of progress in numbers engaged and 2016 saw the club field competitively at all levels in football league and championship for both genders. In Ladies football, the adult ladies retained their intermediate status and will hope to build further on that as talent comes through from the underage grades. The girls at U17, U14 and U12 trained, competed and improved in their competitions. On the male side, while the senior men’s season was a disappointment overall, the progression of talented minors through to senior levels and the strong showing from our U21 side at the end of 2016 adds encouragement to the case to aim for Division 2 by the end of 2017. Mark specifically highlighted the accolades received by senior player Cathail Arnold (East Down Junior Player of the Year) and Pierce Laverty and Lorcan Harney on the county minor squad and indeed with Pierce having the honour of captaining the Red and Black U18’s in the Ulster championship game with Monaghan in 2016. At U16, U14 and U12 the potential showed in various highs through the year with consistency and focus on improvement needed to realise that potential on the fields in 2017. Off the playing fields, the grounds received a welcome uplift with the replacement of the catch-nets, the clubhouse painted, pitch extended and surrounding groundworks begun and the calendar saw some incredible events including the Golf Day, Junior Strictly, the increasingly popular Griddle 10k and the pomp and celebration of the 25th anniversary Pairc Sabhall Phadraig gala ball in the Titanic Centre, Belfast in November.
The highpoint of the whole year however was the charge to glory for the Senior Scor Ballad Group in early 2016 to secure another All-Ireland title for the club. On a weekend in April, never to be forgotten in Killarney, the Ballad Group outshone tough competition to win with a performance that wouldn’t look or sound out of place in any auditorium around the world. They were announced winners to a massive roar and applause, not only from our own club members, but from the whole audience. Saul & Down flags were waved and the invasion of the stage was sight to behold ahead of the well deserved celebrations into the wee hours and for weeks following. The return to our own clubrooms on that Sunday evening under the gaze of Slieve Patrick and with Phil, Peter & Eddie looking down from the walls inside was an emotionally charged one with smiles and tears of joy. Down, Ulster and All Ireland Champions Gareth, Angela, Catherine, Katelyn, Grainne and Taylor – we are so proud of you all. We’re still not sure how Gareth didn’t secure the recitation title that night either as his performance deserved it, but Down & Ulster titles were a good consolation. Through the remainder of 2016 they deservedly had further recognition in the form of presentations and plaudits at county and provincial levels with a further high point being their performance on Croke Park’s pitch in front of 82,000 supporters at the half-time break in the 2016 All-Ireland Hurling Final.
The secretary concluded his report by asking all had helped in any way to continue with their valuable work in the 2017 as there are plenty of things that always need done and no one will ever refuse help. We need to get many more people involved and aware of the huge amount of work it takes for the club to be run for the benefit and success of all.
In his chairman’s address, Eddie Harney welcomed all to the AGM after a momentous year for the club. He said it had been an immense privilege to be chairperson of the club but after 2 years in the role, felt it was the right time to step aside, offering ongoing inputs to the committee and in the knowledge that a strong committee will be in place for 2017. He went on to focus the members on goals for the club to focus on in the new season, including further work on the grounds and organising and supporting events to provide the necessary finance (including supporting the club draw starting this month) to operate, maintain standards and continue to grow. In reflecting on his time in the role, Eddie told the members that the word Heroes came to mind. The gala ball allowed the club to recognise the Down heroes of 1991 along with our own All Ireland Ballad Group heroes. He thanked the committee for all their hard work and also all those running the club events, plus the youth club which was successfully resurrected in 2016, the Saul Centre and the Gym and concluded by thanking all those who helped the club in any way from within or without – providing the finance, resources and drive to make our dreams possible – these are all heroes.
Following the reports and reviews, the new committee was voted in by the members in attendance. The 2017 committee is:
- Chairman: Columban Fitzsimons
- Vice-Chairman: Eddie Harney
- Secretary: Mark McGrath
- Asst Secretary: Donal O’Hagan
- Treasurer: John O’Kane
- Asst Treasurer: Kevin Holland
- PRO: Paul Fitzsimons
- Cultural Officer: Gareth McGreevy
- Health & Safety: Frank Holland
- Registrar: Sonia Kinsella, Philip Kinsella,
- Standing Orders: Philip Kinsella, Rory Mullen, Paul Fitzsimons
- County Board Rep: Martin Fitzsimons
- Children’s Officer: Irene Fitzsimons
- Additional Committee: Brian Jennings, Joe Ritchie, Brendan Mullen, Bernie O’Kane, Paddy Connor, Lucy Connor, Ciaran Hanna, Angela McGreevy, Michael McMillan