THE Clare County Board has finally admitted that the Ennis Urban Board, which was established in 1998 to develop underage GAA in the county capital up to Under 14 level, is now officially dead.
The admission came at last Thursday’s Special Convention in the West County Hotel when after a robust debate between new county board chairman, Michael McDonagh, and Éire Óg delegates Tony Brohan and Michael McNamara, a curtain was drawn on the existence of the underage board for once and for all.
The subject was broached during a debate on the ratification of the county board by-laws for 2013, when Michael McNamara pointed out that “we put in a motion (to the Convention on December 18) and it wasn’t dealt with”.
This motion related specifically to Ennis urban affairs and called for motion number 18 on the 2011 by-laws to be rescinded.
“I’m not going to revisit it,” said chairman Michael McDonagh. “It was put aside at Convention, but what I will say is that put it in again next year and and let it be decided. Put it in and I’m giving my commitment now that it will be discussed at Convention and let the Convention decide.
“I would be in favour of upping the ante in Ennis. The Urban Committee is gone, everyone knows it. I would be doing a disservice to my predecessor if I went back on what was done at Convention, but I’m telling you here and now, I will put it up next year,” he added.
However, when pressed by Mr McNamara, the chairman admitted that as an from 2013 the Ennis Urban Board is officially no more. This was brought about by Éire Óg’s successful appeal against a Clare County Board and Munster Council ruling last year that they couldn’t operate their underage hurling and football Academy, but it was a policy change that was never declared by board officials.
“There is no Ennis Urban Board,” said Mr McDonagh. “We (the county board) have to support the two clubs in the town. I don’t want to go down the road of the situation of the Éire Óg/Banner thing. That’s gone. It’s Éire Óg and the Banner now. You have the two clubs and the Urban Board is gone.
“We now have two clubs, two distinct clubs inside in Ennis town. And while I’m county chairman I will be totally against any changes to that. I will be working with both clubs. One seems to be strong and the other seems to be weaker. What we have to do is promote both to make sure that the second club works,” he added.
Continuing, Mr McDonagh confirmed that clause 21 of 2013 by-laws will be implemented for the coming year. This by-law states “there shall be an Urban Committee set up to develop Gaelic Games in Urban areas and centres of expanding population. The function of this Committee shall be to assist and support the Clubs and Schools and to help redress problem of the large percentage of young people who are not participating in Gaelic Games in these areas. The areas are to be determined by the County Committee and shall be subject to the County Committee in all matters”.
“It will cover all areas, not just Ennis,” said Mr McDonagh. “As far as I am concerned we need to look at Shannon, we need to look at all the built up areas because we are whipped by certain sports,” he added.

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Joe Ó Muircheartaigh graduated from University College Dublin in 1989 with a degree in history and politics. After completing a Diploma in Journalism at The College of Commerce, Rathmines in 1991, he embarked on a career in journalism. Joe spent four years with Clare FM from 1992 and was with The Clare Champion from 1996 to 2005. He has won two McNamee Awards for GAA journalism and has published two books. Contact Joe on [email protected]

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