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Secretary's Address to Club AGM - 3 January 2010

Aodh Ruadh C.L.G. Centenary year 2009 has come to an end.

Centenary year started on a sombre note, as in the last days of 2008 Club President Sean Slevin passed to his eternal reward. Sean had been a stalwart for Aodh Ruadh C.L.G. down the years, both as a player club and county and administrator winning County Championship medals throughout the 1940s and 50s and was one of the main driving forces behind the development of the G.A.A. in Ballyshannon down through the years When you look at Fr. Tierney park and surrounds, you are looking at a monument to people like Sean Slevin. R.I.P. Sean. Deepest Sympathy to wife Peggy and family

Then seven months later on 30th August the club was again plunged into mourning with the passing of Ciaran Keon at the young age of 38. Ciaran had battled his illness bravely over a number of years, but it didn't deter him from supporting Aodh Ruadh, and could be seen at most Aodh Ruadh games right up until a week or so before his death. Ciaran as a player represented his club with distinction at all levels, winning county titles at U-16, Minor, U-21 and Senior, while he also represented Donegal at Minor and U-21 level. A no nonsense style of player, he lead by example. Forced through illness to retire early, he later managed the club Senior team, with no less dedication than he did as a player. Ciaran was laid to rest in the Rock cemetery on Saturday 1st August 09 surrounded by his family ( wife Paula, young daughters Caiomhe and Orla, parents John and Margaret, Brothers and Sister) as well as a large number of relatives and friends, plus all his friends and colleagues in Aodh Ruadh.

R.I.P. Ciaran. Deepest sympathy to Paula and girls John & Margaret, Brothers and Sister

The club hosted a number of events during the year, starting with the Ulster GAA Convention on Saturday 21st February 09. Special guest on the day was then GAA President, Nicky Brennan who made an early morning visit to Fr Tierney Park to hoist the GAA 125th Anniversary flag.

Afterwards the President met with a large turn out of club members in Aras Aoidh Ruaidh, where Park Development committee Chairman and Ulster Council President Tom Daly, presented him with an appreciation award.

Mr Brennan then made his way to Dorrians Imperial Hotel, where he addressed the delegate's to Ulster Convention.

Hosting Ulster Convention in Centenary year was a great honour for the Aodh Ruadh Club, and for our own clubman Tom Daly entering his third and final year as Ulster President.

Next up on the diary of events for the year was La Na g Club which took place on 10th May. Blessed by a beautiful day it was all fun and games for the young, and not so young.

Ulster President Tom Daly, set the ball rolling by raising the GAA 125th Anniversary Flag in the new Pairc Aoidh Ruaidh, which then received its first Baptism by the young boys and girls of Aodh Ruadh playing Hurling and football.

The fun day continued across the road in Fr Tierney Park with a host of novelty events, penalty kicks, long pucks, long kicks, wheelbarrow race etc, an enjoyable day was had by all.

The official opening of our Centre of Excellence, Pairc Aoidh Ruadh Alias Munday's field took place on Friday evening 29th May 09. An historic event for the Aodh Ruadh Club. Proceedings got underway with a march by about 200 young Aodh Ruadh players from The Abbey Centre led by St Nauls Pipe Band Ardaghy to the park. After some mini games and blitzes got out of the way, compere for the evening Sylvester Maguire got the informal opening ceremony underway. This began with an interdenominational prayer service. That done there was a formal address by Councillor Pat O'Malley chairman of Ballyshannon Town Council, followed by Club Chairman Terence McShea, then former GAA & Ulster President Peter Quinn took the mike for some words of wisdom. Then An Tanaiste Mary Coughlan T.D. followed by Ulster GAA President Tom Daly. Tom said it was a great honour to officially open Pairc Aoidh Ruaidh during the Centenary year of our club and as we celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the GAA. He welcomed everyone present to the official opening of our new facility, and extended a special welcome to An Tanaiste Mary Coughlan T.D. and former GAA and Ulster President Peter Quinn whom he said were extremely helpful in different ways in ensuring we would arrive at this day. Speeches complete Ulster President Tom Daly Assisted by An Tanaiste Mary Coughlan cut the tape to declare Pairc Aodh Ruadh officially open, and unveiled a plaque specially commissioned to commemorate the occasion.

It is indeed fitting that Tom Daly should be the person to perform this duty, as without doubt he has driven this project to fruition, over the years.

With the ceremonial part now over, Donegal and Sligo Senior footballers took to the field for a challenge match, Brian Roper taking the Captains armband for Donegal in the first half, and the other Aodh Ruadh Donegal player, Johnny Gallagher taking the captaincy in the second half. Donegal lost the game by a few point's, the result didn't dampen the spirits. Aodh Ruadh committee and members were thrilled with their new facility. After the game everyone was invited to Aras Aoidh Ruaidh where refreshments were served.

On The Playing Field
Our Senior footballers managed by Sylvester Maguire got off to a flying start in the Div 2 league 11 points from 12 in the first 6 games. Then things started going pear shaped, our bogey team Malin inflicted our first defeat and from then on we found it very difficult to pick up points. In the end it took a good performance at home to Buncrana on a dreadful evening, winning by a 5 point margin put us clear of the relegation play-off's

Our Championship campaign ended in the first round losing home and away to St Michaels. Our fate was effectively sealed in first game, losing two players to red cards 10 minutes into the second-half which left them out for the return leg

Our reserves managed by Jim Kane had a very good season in comparison to recent years. Won 10 out of 14 league games played finishing third in the division.

In the Championship beat St Michaels home and away. Played Dungloe in the quarter final, draw match, lost the replay Dungloe went on to win the Championship.

Our third team managed jointly by Gerard McGloin and David O'Donnell for first time in quite a while failed to pick up silverware. In the league played 12 won 5 lost 5 drew 2 finished mid table. Lost out in the Junior B championship over 3 games to a strong Downings team, who went on to win this particular Championship.

Under age Football.
At minor level Shane Ward as manager has had some good performances from this squad winning 2 out of 3 league games. Lost in the Championship to St Nauls over two legs having drawn our home game.

Barry Gallagher as coach to the u-16 squad has worked wonders with this team. Won the southern Division league title. Lost out to a strong St Eunans side in the County Semi-Final who went on to win the county title easily. In the Championship lost out to Ardara in a play-off.

U-14s have been the team of the year, Managed by Niall McCready with Damien Conlon this team have been unbeaten in league and Championship in Donegal. Qualified for Feile in Kildare by beating St Eunans in Bundoran in county Feile. Won county league and Championship double with wins against St Eunans in league final and Buncrana in the Championship. This is a very good squad of players and hopefully they can keep it going right through to adult level. Great credit due to the management team of Niall and Damien

U-12s coached by Colman kerr had a good year reaching the southern Divisional league semi-final lost out to a strong naomh conaill side who went on to win the county title

Peter Gallagher played a lot of blitzes throughout the southern Division with the u-10 squad.

A new innovation is Simon Gillespie an Ulster council coach is doing great work with the u-6s & u-8s

Ladies Football
Ladies football is going well, with the adult team challenging for intermediate league and championship, losing the Championship final to an injury time goal against a strongly fancied McCools also just piped on the post for league honours.

At minor level Tara Khan won Ulster and all-Ireland minor medals playing half back for Donegal beating Clare in the All-Ireland Final Dearbhaille McNeill and Anna Rafferty also picked up medals as part of the panel. McNeill and Rafferty was also part of the Donegal ladies u-16 team which lost to Meath in the final.

Our u-12 & 14s are progressing well. U 10s training away getting great numbers.

Senior hurlers. Conal Gallagher worked hard with this group of players, Conal feels the players need to be more committed. Made their Championship exit to a very good MacCumhaills side

Underage hurling going very well probably one of the best years ever. Thanks to John Rooney and his merry band of helpers. Star turn was u-14s winning league and Championship Double to go with the football double which must go down as a record in the County. U-12s won the Fermanagh league. U-16s lost to Burt who won it out u-8s and 10s took part in a number of blitzes around the county. Organised a number of successful tournaments in Fr Tierney park Alan Ryan / Seamus Grimes and Aodh O'Dalaigh. All in all a very good year for underage hurling in the club.

Centenary Celebration night
Aodh Ruadh celebrated their centenary on Sunday night 25th October 2009. The celebrations commenced with a special bi-lingual mass in St Patrick's which was concelebrated by Fr Cathal O'Fearraigh , Fr Frank McManus, Fr Dermott Burke, Fr Gerard Daly, Fr Herbie Bromley and 96 year old Fr Ambrose O'Gorman a former playing member of the club. The ceremony was opened with some tokens representative of the GAA being brought to the altar. Niamh Gallagher and Patricia Slevin read the lessons. While Fr O'Fearraigh and Fr McManus spoke of the central role played by the GAA and Aodh Ruadh in Ballyshannon.

After mass it was on to The Abbey Centre for the awards and presentation ceremony which was preceded by a wine and cheese reception. There was an extensive exhibition of club history throughout the Abbey Centre with pictures, and medal displays and newspaper cuttings providing plenty of talking points

It was 8.30pm before the 300 seats in the main auditorium were filled and Sean Perry was able to get proceedings under way. Chris 'spanny' Goan won thr first award of the evening, young player of the year. Next up hurler of the year which went to Kevin Mc Dermot. Ladies player of the year went to Niamh Gallagher, while Ronan Drummond collected third team player of the year. Reserve team player of the year went to David Dolan. The Senior team player of the year award has been named the Ciaran Keon award in memory of the club man whose recent loss is so keenly felt.

Tigerish half back Philip O'Reilly was the deserving winner. Next up was a special award for our representatives on the Donegal ladies All Ireland winning minor team. Anna Rafferty, Dearbhaile Mc Neill and Tara Khan. John Travers got a pleasant surprise when he was presented with a special appreciation award. Next up the 2002 All Ireland Scor na nOg winners: Turlough Mc Intyre, Naomi Campbell and Pauric Buggy. The were followed by 1991 Scor Sensaior recitation winner Pat Sweeny.

The next part of the ceremony paid tribute to Aodh Ruadhs past championship winning hurling teams. Jim Daly, the 1929 championship wining captain, was represented by his son Fr. Gerard Daly, Josie Boyle the 1975 champions and the late Seamus Grimes captained the 1977 champions-he was represented by his sister Mary Mc Sharry. Then it was the turn of Ballyshannon's captains on the legendary Saint Joseph's side. 1973 captain Alan Kane was still recuperating in hospital but, happily, well on the mend so his award was collected by his daughter Fiona Feeney. The 1975 captain, Teddy Kane, was present to receive his award. Next up was Pauric McShea who was celebrated for his role in captaining Donegal the 1974 Ulster champions. Brian Roper's achievement in becoming the Donegal player with most appearances, currently at 159, was recognised. The Ballyshannon members of the 1992 All-Ireland championship winning team. Brian Murray, Gary Walsh and Sylvester Maguire were next onto the stage and they were followed by Frances Hoy, captain of the Aodh Ruadh Ladies 1995 championship winning team. That lead on to the Aodh Ruadh football championship captains. The 1929 captain Aidan Sweeny was represented by his grand-nephew, Alan Sweeny; the 1932 captain Terry McDermott was represented by his daughter Eileen Kennedy; the 1937 captain, John McDermott was represented by his son Jackie McDermott; The 1939, 1942 and 1943 captain, Mick Slevin, was represented by his cousin Barney Drummond; the 1951 captain was Jim 'The Natch' Gallagher, Tommy McDermott captained the 1986 champions, Brian Touhy captained the 1987 champions, Sylvester Maguire captained the 1994 champions, Charlie O'Donnell captained the 1997 champions and 1998 captain, Val Murray, concluded this section of the ceremony, walking up to the strains of 'You'll never walk alone'

In another fitting gesture it was decided that the Club Person of the Year should henceforth be known as the Sean Slevin award in memory of a true club stalwart who passed to his eternal reward in the last days of 2008 after decades of tireless service to Aodh Ruadh. An utterly stunned and humbled John Hughes was then presented with the Club Person of the Year award. Tom Daly collected a richly deserved Hall of Fame award to conclude the presentations. The ceremonials in the Abbey Centre concluded with speeches from President of the GAA, Christy Cooney, President of the Ulster Council, Tom Daly, and club chairman, Terence McShea. The magnificent Sean Perry drew the curtain down on yet another suave and polished performance and then it was on to Dorrian's.

In Dorrian's there was food and a lot of drink and bonhomie. There was fine entertainment from the Mucky Ducks while the non-dancers were able to view some vintage images from Aodh Ruadh history on the plasma screen in the small function room, while in the foyer a video of the 1984 GAA centenary dinner dance revived many happy memories. The revelry continued long into the night, a night that will surely endure long in the memory.

Tremendous thanks has to go to the large team of volunteers that put in so many hours to make the evening such an outstanding success. The result of their work was a celebration of everything that is great about the GAA, about Ballyshannon and about our club. You can be rightly proud of efforts. A DVD of events in the Abbey Centre is already in the works, expect further news on its availability for purchase in future club notes. Pictures and more extensive coverage of the night will appear on

After the high of Sunday there was a second triumph on Monday afternoon when the underage award presentation ceremony took place in the Abbey. Again, this was a wonderful event, although rather different in tone. Bord na nÓg chairman Paddy Kelly and Hurling chairman John Rooney co-presented in front of another full house in the Abbey Centre's main theatre. Once again, David O'Donnell's rattling soundtrack gave the event a real injection of razzamatazz. We were privileged to have Ulster Council President, Tom Daly, on hand to present medals. The all-conquering under 14 footballers collected no fewer than six medals apiece, the spoils of divisional and county victories in the Féile, league and championship competitions. The under 14 hurlers made it a double double for the club as Aodh Ruadh became the first team in Donegal to enjoy championship and league success in both football and hurling at the one age grade and at the top level. John Rooney pointed out there were a number of dual players involved and added that this was the future for the club. The under 16 footballers collected their hard-won Southern Divisional league medals and there was a special presentation for water carrier extraordinaire Dara Gallagher. The successful under 8 and under 10 hurlers who took part in county blitzes and the under 12 Fermanagh league hurling champions were also saluted in fine fashion. With such youth, verve, vibrancy and enthusiasm on show it was a really heartening occasion and a sign that the long term future of the club is very promising indeed. Once again deep thanks has to go to everyone who contributed to making the event such an impressive and uplifting experience.

County Convention.
The final event of Centenary year was the hosting of County Convention which took place in Dorrians Imperial Hotel on Sunday 13th December. Thanks due to the County executive, for affording the Aodh Ruadh Club the opportunity to host this event in our Centenary year

As I complete my three year term as Secretary of the Aodh Ruadh Club I wish to express sincere thanks to all those who have helped along the way. To Chairman Terence McShea for all his help, he epitomises all that a good clubman should be, endless energy and always ready to help in any way he can. Thanks to our efficient treasurer Mary Grimes the purse strings are in good hands, even though they are a bit stretched at the moment. Pat Malaniff for all his help and direction. To the ever efficient. John Hughes who has helped me in so many ways over the last 3 years, and without his help this report may not have got here today. To Jimmy Gallagher a speedy recovery back to good health.

Mise le meas,

Sean Mag Aoidh

Report Filed: 5 January 2010