*Kieran Keating speaking at Tuesday’s County Convention. Photograph: Natasha Barton

What started as election fever quicken ascended to fervour as Clare GAA made sweeping changes to the top table at their annual convention in The Auburn Lodge Hotel this evening.

Four proposed officer contests elevated three new appointees to the top table including chairman, vice-chair and treasurer.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Kieran Keating stepped up to the helm of Clare GAA following a 115 to 74 vote victory over holder Jack Chaplin (Cratloe), citing the implementation of the recently adopted 5 year Strategic Plan, Saffron & Blue as his chief priority for 2022.

The vacant Vice-Chairman position was garnered by outgoing PRO Michael O’Connor who managed to edge out Éire Óg’s Paddy Smyth by 94 to 82. The only officer to retain their seat on the executive following an election was Vice-Treasurer Tony Brohan (Éire Óg) who fended off challenger Niomh Madigan (Kilrush Shamrocks) by 114 to 65.

However, there would be a major curveball in the proposed election race for treasurer after the incumbent Michael Gallagher pulled out of the race at the eleventh hour.

Faced with a ‘Lynch mob’ of online abuse following his alleged refusal of the Clare Football Supporters Club from selling car raffle tickets at Cusack Park ahead of the County Intermediate Football Final in early November, Gallagher came out with all guns blazing to defend himself at Tuesday’s convention.

Michael Gallagher. Photograph: Natasha Barton.

The Doonbeg clubman strongly rejected that claim, outlining that the decision was made by a group of five people, with their reasoning based on patrons ‘having to put their hands in their pockets or handbags four times before taking their seat at that particular game’. The admittance fee, programme sale and a authorised Banner Flag Day were explained as the other three occasions alongside a ticket for the Car draw. He remarked that journalists should report the right story and not be the story.

So despite reporting a hugely encouraging €225,931 surplus for 2021, a whopping €700,000 turnaround from the 2020 version, Gallagher did not seek re-election for a fifth year as treasurer but did graciously offer to assist and support Rebecca Sexton’s transition to the role as the sole remaining candidate and first female treasurer of Clare GAA.

Online abuse of officers (“the county board needs to defend itself, the day is gone where we stand like dummies” quipped Irish Officer Flann O’Reilly) and vehemently refuted claims of alleged plotting to silencing certain club delegates at an officers meeting, were both significant discussion points as was the ongoing senior hurling relegation issue that is proposed to be dealt with as soon as next Tuesday at the first county board meeting of the new administration that will also include the ratification of remaining county managements.

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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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