Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chairmans address to Meath Athletics convention

Hon. President, Fellow Officers & Delegates,

On behalf of all of us I would like to thank our county president Paddy Reilly who attended our functions and events throughout the year. On my own behalf I want to extend a special word of thanks to my fellow officers for all their hard work during the year because without their combined efforts it would be impossible to successfully run the programme of events that we have on our yearly calendar. I want to thank all the clubs who gave their own facilities or organised facilities to host our championships. I would like to thank Philip for all his work during the year especially on the IT end. A special thanks is due to Treasurer Tommy Boshell, who was ever present at all events in the most thankless of all tasks namely collecting money.
Thanks is also due to Sharon & her staff in the Sport’s Development Programme, who do so much of the clerical work for us, which facilitates the efficient running of all our events and also to Moira, Maria and Paul who bring athletics to the schools. I would like to thank our PRO and all the local media for their coverage of our events throughout the year and the Meath Local Sports Partnership who are doing so much to promote active lifestyles within the community. Thanks is due to our registrar Moira for keeping us all on our toes as regards registrations.

It has been a good year both collectively and individually for Meath Athletics. Our juvenile athletes continue to make their mark at National level as is evident by the numbers receiving certificates at our Annual Awards Night. We tend to be stronger in the field events but this year we have seen the emergence of new talent in the younger age groups especially at the National Cross Country Championships.

The highlight of the cross-country season so far for me were the great performances in the Inter Counties in Tattersalls such as Petra Reilly’s 3rd place in the U12’s, Amy Clarke’s 3rd place in the u14’s, Alan Monaghan’s 2nd place in the U14’s combined with 2nd place county team, as well as Thomas Moran’s great run in the All Ireland Junior Cross Country Championship where he finished 5th overall in the U18 & junior race (4th junior) and David Fitzmaurice who finished 2nd in the U23 race and gained a spot on the Irish team for the European Championships. Why Athletics Ireland is only bringing 5 junior men athletes to the Europeans – the first 4 in the U18 & junior race plus Sean Tobin- I don’t know.
Our membership has broken through the 3000 mark, which is a huge increase on last year. There is no doubt that two new clubs have added to this expansion but existing clubs have also increased their membership over the year as well. The key to maintaining this increase will be maintaining the quality coaching for all levels of athletes within the county and that we have more events for all levels of athletes so that the athletics year does not end for some with just the Meath T&F Championships. At this stage I must acknowledge the help & support that we receive from our RDO Bart Rogers. Thanks is due to Maggie Higgins and Brigid Clarke in Development and Tom Clinton in Coaching for all their hard work in this regard.

The Meath road race series has grown with I think 17 fixtures pencilled in for 2013. There still is a problem with non permitted events but with 17 events organised by Meath clubs in the period from March to the end of September there is very little room for us to allow any further events within those dates. The problem is that other bodies are organising races with a limited prize structure in an effort to raise funds as they see the current boom in running as an easy opportunity – however we do not organise Gaelic football, hurling or soccer matches to raise funds for athletic clubs.
While we had no Beach Run in 2012 due to fixtures and the tide calendar not matching this year the Beach Run is a possibility if the county decides to go ahead with it.

I want to thank Dunboyne AC for hosting the Leinster Cross-Country Championships. Thanks are due to Sean Kinnane and his team for a job well done.

The National Inter Counties & Even Age Cross Country Championships in Tattersalls, Ratoath were a great success. Here I want to thank the Ratoath club and their members for all the help they gave me in the organising the event. Also thanks is due to Roger Casey, Eugene O’Neill and Lorcan (can’t remember his surname) in Tattersalls for all their help as the venue was one of the best in the country with regard to all the facilities one might aspire to having on one site for hosting such a major event. The course to put it mildly was what it should be for hosting a National Championships namely testing. Tony Ennis is due a special word of praise as he met me twice in Tattersalls that week before spending all day Saturday & Sunday working both officiating and just plain labouring when it came to putting up & taking down the course. I would also like to thank Tom Brady (Ratoath AC) who like me was wired up to his mobile for the whole day and sorted out any problems that arose. There are three other people I have to thank and they are Martin Heery & Andrew Ledwith for helping us take down the course and lastly Gerard Heery. Gerard and I both enjoy cross-country running and invariably the discussions we have when we both see grass in a field are about how this can be converted it into milk.

This year will be my last as Chairman of Meath Athletics. I have been chairman for 10 years and it is now time for a change. I want to spend a little more time with my own club, a little more time to play golf with my father and then to play it competitively, do a little more fishing, get back to competitive badminton, get the farm geared up more for the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 and finally if I have not mentioned it before with all our family grown up and out of the country spend a little more time with Mary, who has been very patient these last few years given that everything that is organised in our house is first checked for clashing with athletics.

Finally, I wish all our athletes, officials, county officers and club members a very happy and peaceful Christmas and I look forward to a successful 2013 for Meath Athletics.

Brendan Meade

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