Laois GAA Secertary Niall Handy (right) has urged clubs in Laois to consider forming divisional teams, similar to those in Kerry, in a bid to add more competition to the Laois senior football championship.
With Portlaoise currently on a record run of success, and few challengers to their extended dominance on the horizon, the Laois SFC has become a drab, frequently boring competition.
Handy has once again made reference to his belief that there are too many teams in the championship, and believes the introduction of divisional teams would breathe new life into the SFC. “The system has worked in Kerry for 100 years and resulted in the strengthening of their football at all levels” states the Stradbally man, adding that the system has seen Kerry win 35 All-Irelands while five of the last eight All-Ireland junior football championship winners are from Kerry also.
With so many senior clubs in survival mode, there may be some appetite for change at senior level soon also, while Handy’s urgings come at a time when one proposed amalgamation of junior and intermediate clubs is in the pipeline.
It is believed that a move to form a team consisting of players from Park-Ratheniska, Courtwood, Annanough and Barrowhouse is gaining momentum, and could be put in place to take part in the 2013 senior championship if all the parties are in agreement.
The issue of hurling also plays a prominent role in the Secretary’s report after a year in which Laois once again finished with heavy defeats and the resignation of a manager.
Handy has urged all involved to committ to rectifying the ills of the current Laois senior hurling setup. “Where we are at present also affords a great opportunity to properly blend in more of younger Under 21 panellists on to our Senior team.
“While no one should be in any doubt that a complete rebuilding process is necessary, I think that the appointment of a management team that commands immediate respect and who players will have confidence and belief in, will help stabilise matters.”
The wait for that appointment goes on, but Handy has also urged the GAA to follow through on their promises of support for county’s like Laois. “The National Hurling Development Committee is looking at areas at how counties like Laois can bridge the ‘gap’ with Tier 1 counties. It is at Setanta, Development Squads and Minor we need help, we need investment, we need availability to the top hurling coaches and we need use of the resources in the Waterford IT Centre of Excellence. Such committees have existed before and promised much but delivered very little, so we will certainly await developments with interest.”
Handy did pay tribute to both the minor and U-21 hurling squads who enjoyed some success throughout the year, praising the U-21 team for their “heart” which should be taken as a lesson for other squads.
Clubs were also warned with regard to their finances, as the Revenue Commissioners continue to monitor the various county boards throughout Ierland, while they have already visited one club in Laois with a view to auditing their accounts, as the crackdown on illegal payments to managers continues. “The clarifications and guidelines on tax issues relating to the GAA have been circulated to all clubs.
“I would advise that all club officers be vigilant and Revenue compliant in the manner they conduct their club business from herein.”