LAOIS GAA and Trumera were toasting a day to remember on Saturday, as Liam O’Neill became the first Laois native to be inaugurated as President of the GAA.
Having found no challengers to run against him, O’Neill made GAA history by becoming the first President to be elected unopposed. He was joined in Killenard on Saturday evening by his family, friends and most of the Trumera community, as well as supporters and well-wishers from around the county.
In his speech to Congress, O’Neill outlined the three areas he intends to focus his energies over the next three years; games promotion, taking in refereeing, discipline, fixtures planning and the promotion of hurling, finance, infrastructure and the development of officers and also, finally, the problems created by the growing numbers living in urban communities, and how to promote the GAA in these areas.
He will continue to teach in Gaelscoil Tromaire for the remainder of the school year, before taking secondment for three years to devote himself full-time to his new role.
O’Neill has been described as the best prepared GAA President the Association has ever had by one of his predecessors, Galway’s Joe McDonagh, and there is certainly evidence to back that up.
In his career he has proved to be innovative and forward-thinking, having introduced the Cumann na mBunscol model, as well as the current Go Games scheme, while he also brought in e-mail as a form of communication to clubs.
The Trumera community welcomed him home on Sunday evening, where his first official function as GAA President was to open their new dressing rooms and facilties. He is expected to announce the make up of his various committees in the coming weeks.
See this week’s Leinster Express for a 20 page souvenir supplement marking Liam O’Neill’s appointment as GAA President