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European county board AGM
January 21, 2002
From The Irish Examiner. Reproduced in full and unmodified,

Insurance proves stumbling block for Gaelic games in Europe
By Diarmuid O’Flynn, Luxembourg

INSURANCE, player registration and funding were the three central issues at the second Convention of the GAA’s European County Boards in Luxembourg at the weekend. 
The European Board claims representation of 28 clubs in 11 countries (including Guernsey). Of those, seven nations and nine clubs, had members in attendance at this day-long meeting.

These included Luxembourg, the host club along with the oldest units in the EB; Belgium, Holland, France, Spain, Germany and Guernsey.

The meeting had a less-than-auspicious start as the first order of business on the agenda, the adoption of the secretary’s report, was met with a bitter response from Munich, a new club which was founded within the past year.

Reading from a prepared statement, delegate Paul Larkin, one of six from the German club, outlined a series of grievances against the EB, and called for a series of less-than-complimentary remarks in secretary Cathal Lynch’s report, especially the footnote, to be withdrawn.

It could have been a PR disaster, especially with visiting Croke Park representatives Sean Kelly (International Committee Chairman) and Pat Daly (Head of Games) seated at the top table. However, in a display of maturity that belied the 20-something age-profile of most of those present, the ultra-serious debate which ensued, was measured and controlled, and eventually ended in agreement. 

Kelly, a former chairman of both the Kerry County Board and the Munster Council, and as such a veteran of some acrimonious meetings in the past, was impressed by the opening debate admitting that “if views are not expressed, they cannot be debated”.

Munich delegate Paudie O’Kelly spoke for many on the insurance issue, when he stated that one of the biggest problems in Europe is that neither Gaelic football nor hurling are recognised as sports and, thus, clubs end up paying premiums at the highest end of the scale. 

After much discussion, during which Mr Kelly explained that Croke Park couldn’t cover the cost themselves, Kelly and Daly were asked to assist the EB in addressing that problem at EU level and using their influence with the two Irish Ministers concerned, while the EB would also continue their efforts locally.

Player registration, always a concern in overseas units, has now become a matter of some urgency in Europe, with the EB having come formally within the fold of the GAA. The insurance implications of playing unregistered players was discussed at length.

Eventually, it was decided, on the advice of Mr Kelly, that the EB would submit a motion to Congress looking for a deviation to cover their particular problems (most of their players in Europe are on short-term contracts, but the desire to maintain their playing status in Ireland being the principal concern), as Australasia and the USA have done previously.

The Croke Park representatives brought good financial news with the annual €10,000 grant for this year and next assured.

They also announced increased expenses to cover the cost of participation in the annual International Tournament in Dublin, in September.

After lunch, Head of Games Pat Daly made a laptop video presentation of the new CD-ROM twin coaching package for both hurling and football).

Given that this is probably the most comprehensive breakdown of how to coach a particular sport ever seen, and given the problems the European clubs have in attracting players (Irish and local), this presentation made a huge impact. 

Delegate Philip Golden from Rennes - most of whose players are French - stated that he was already using the CD, and it was proving hugely beneficial.