Final Thoughts as a P.R.O.
West Convention AGM handbook, p. 11, December 8, 2014
Coming to the end of my term as P.R.O of the West Board I would like to express a few thoughts about the position and about my memories of my years holding the position.
J. J. Kennedy resigned as West P.R.O. in December 2004 after twenty-five years in the job. He was succeeded by Leonard Fitzgerald at the 2004 convention and he stepped down at the 2005 convention after only one year. There was no one to replace him so secretary, Jerry Ring, combined the position with that of Runaí. This situation continued for 2006, 2007 and 2008. I was elected to the position at the 2008 convention in December of that year..
I wasn't handed an extensive job specification with the position. As a person involved in the G.A.A. for a number of years, I had a general notion of the role of the P.R.O. In fact I spent a number of years as P.R.O. of the Cashel King Cormacs club. There were also publications that could be consulted and seminars were organised occasionally at county and national level on the extent and nature of the role.
I saw my job as twofold. The first and most important was reporting on the games organised in the division. Whereas the practice previously had been to concentrate on adult games, especially senior, intermediate and junior hurling and football, I tried to cover all games organised by the board. This proved to be difficult at times especially when a multitude of minor games were played in one week in the early part of a championship. In these cases I aimed at reporting at a minimum the date, competition, score, teams and who scored.
This comprehensiveness was based on the premise that any game was as important as any other game in the sense that the players were trying their best to win and that victory was important to them as in a much more important fixture. Whereas in the normal course of events, the game might not have merited many column inches in the local newspaper or in the public interest, it was of great importance to the players involved and they had an equal right to see their achievements publicised.
The second reason for the comprehensiveness was in the interests of history. Having written a number of club histories and G.A.A. books in general, I am acutely aware of the importance of accurate and complete information.
One little example will suffice. The 1946 county intermediate hurling final was played in December 1947 at Gaile between Lorrha and Moycarkey-Borris. When I was researching the Lorrha G.A.A. club history, the only report of the game I could find was a six-line account in the Tipperary Star.
That report not only didn't give the teams and who scored, but it didn't even give the final score! All it stated was that Moycarkey were beaten and it took me a long time to discover – in a speech given somewhere by Hubie Hogan – that the score was 4-2 to 2-4 in favour of Lorrha.
This is where the accurate and complete match report is vital. Admittedly records are more complete today and divisional and county convention reports are wonderful compendiums of match results. Although that is the case the newspaper report still remains important for the clubman or woman researching his/her club past
That is why my mantra at board meetings have been the need for accurate information on teams. Again and again I find out that number 2 is, in fact, number four, eight is nine and vice versa, ten is twelve and it should be the other way around. There seems to be a simple answer to it. Instead of saying in the dressingroom that Fionn and Brendan are the two wing forwards, the mentor gives ten to Fionn and twelve to Brendan. I know that saying this is not going to change anything because so many G.A.A. mentors are careless or lazy and their attitude is that these aren't important things. I say they are, not only for our supporters at the game but for posterity as well.
Inadequate and Insufficient
It is only now, at the end of my term, that I realise that what I have been doing as P.R.O. has been inadequate and insuficient. The simple fact of life is that fewer people are getting their information from newpapers and P.C.s. The vast number of younger people receive their information from Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Everything I have been doing has ignored these outlets of communication. The North division uses them very well. Whoever, therefore, takes over as P.R.O. must be alive to the importance of these media and be familiar and comfortable with them.
We did discuss the setting up of a divisional website during the year but we didn't progress it. Most clubs have websites and do a good job keeping them up to date. The latter ismost important. A website that isn't updated daily quickly loses visitors and there is nothing as bad as opening a website that was last updated in 2008! One of the first tasks of the new board must be the setting up of a website and then the proper management of it.
Finally, I have enjoyed my years in the position. I have been to every venue over the years, some more than others, and am well aware of the huge effort made by clubs to improve their facilities. In fact the most of them are very good. A priority for any club that hasn't spectator shelter is to erect one immediately and it doesn't have to be elaborate.
There are wonderful secretaries and P.R.O.s in clubs who have been outstanding in giving me information during my term. I mentioned them in last year's handbook and I want to say a sincere thanks to them all. Without them my reports of matches would have been inadequate and incomplete.