*Former Clare GAA Chairman, Jack Chaplin. Photograph: Natasha Barton

GAA competitions in the county will continue to be impacted by COVID-19, the former Chairman of Clare GAA has cautioned.

Jack Chaplin’s bid to retain his role as Chairman of Clare GAA came undone when he lost out to Kieran Keating (74-115) who now makes the step up from Vice Chairman.

In his address to County Convention, Chaplin sad he was “deeply honoured” twelve months ago to be elected Chairman when he fended off the challenge of Cooraclare’s PJ McGuane (116-67).

He paid tribute to work completed by the County Executive and the clubs of Clare. “GAA clubs play a huge role in Irish life and this was evident to me during the year as I travelled throughout the county to games and events”.

Cratloe’s Chaplin acknowledged that the pandemic “greatly disrupted” the GAA season for a second year on the trot. He thanked clubs for complying with the subsequent regulations. “Dressing rooms were unavailable for the majority of the season but the clubs accepted this and got on with playing games”.

“Going forward we are likely to face many challenges for some time because of COVID-19 and these may well impact on our competitions, both at club and inter-county levels,” he added.

Lockdowns have made it “increasingly difficult” for clubs to raise funds with plans to improve facilities deferred as a result. He was hopeful fundraising would pick up in the coming year to allow clubs move forward in this area, “facilities provided by our GAA clubs are important, particularly at a time when many people are experiencing increased social isolation”.

A former referee, Jack voiced his worry that the County Board continue to draw “from a small pool of referees”. He issued an appeal to clubs and past players to come forward to assist Clare GAA in increasing the amount of whistlers.

Failure of a proposal to change the inter-county football championship format was labelled by Chaplin as a disappointment. He commended all Clare management teams for their efforts in 2021. Work ongoing with development squads will help to rectify “some disappointing results” recorded with the county’s underage sides this year, he believed. Commencement of a post-primary competitions for gaelic football and hurling were welcomed by the outgoing Chairman.

Efforts of the nine person committee in drafting a five year strategic review for Clare GAA were praised by Chaplin. “The implementation of the many recommendations contained in the document will I’m sure dominate much time in the coming months, we all want what is best for Clare GAA”.

Similarly, he felt the recommendations put forward by the Caherlohan sub-committee chaired by Simon Moroney would benefit the Association.

Ongoing insults from social media were lamented by Chaplin. “If there is one area of disappointment from 2021, it is the use of social media by a small cohort of people trying to regularly castigate officers of this Board. Constructive criticism is always welcome but much of what has gone on in the past year was a long way short of that. Properly used social media has a huge part to play in the GAA and our clubs are benefiting in this area. However, the small group who continuously use social media to insult people who are working for the GAA do nothing to enhance the organisation.

“In the past year my aim as Chairman was to see that Clare GAA continued to be the great organisation that it is. Inevitably problems will arise within any organisation as big as ours and it behoves us all to work to resolve these difficulties. In whatever role I have in the GAA, I will do my utmost to help meet the challenges we face going forward,” he concluded.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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