Bere Island clubman Jim Hanley is new Beara chairman
JIM Hanley, the new chairman of the Beara board, says that geography and demographics are the two greatest challenges the division faces going forward.
Bere Island clubman Hanley, a former member of the Cork County Board executive and development committee, was appointed as chairman last week, replacing outgoing chairperson Terence O’Shea.
He becomes only the fourth islander to hold the position following Donal O’Sullivan in the 1940s/50s, Brendan Murphy Snr in the 1960s and Fr Seán O’Shea in the 1980s.
Hanley takes on the role knowing that it won’t be easy, but ready to deal with all that it entails.
‘It’s a great honour for myself, my club and my family to take on the role of chairperson,’ he says. ‘I’m looking forward to getting into the role and I know that there are enormous challenges involved.
The two biggest challenges facing Beara right now are geography and demographics. There’s nothing we can do about the geography, that we always be there, but it’s a fact that there are fewer families living in rural areas nowadays and Beara is no exception to that. It’s a big challenge but one we will have to try to overcome with the support of the clubs.’
Hanley is keen, however, to point to the many positives which can be noted when it comes to the administration of Gaelic games in the west of the county.
While numbers are tight, Beara have continued to play in the county SFC, beating UCC in 2015, while Castletownbere and Adrigole have competed well at intermediate level. Hanley believes that these are platforms upon which to work.
‘You can look at it in a number of ways,’ he says, ‘and one of those is that Beara are doing very well.
There are just six clubs in the division and two of those are playing at intermediate level; Castletownbere at premier intermediate and Adrigole at intermediate.
‘There are towns in the county, with similar populations to all of Beara, who don’t have this level of activity. This has to be acknowledged and it has come about through hard work.
‘As a committee, we’ll be trying to maintain the good work being done by our clubs and to improve in areas which need improvement.
‘This year is very much about examining the running of things and exploring what needs to be worked on.
‘Ultimately, we have to have good results on the pitch. Beara, as a division, fields adult teams at senior and U21 levels and it is very important that we send them out in the best shape we can.’
And, in an era where it can be hard for clubs, divisions and counties to entice new blood to sit on committees, Hanley takes heart from the fact that he leads an all-new Beara board. With a concerted and strong effort, he believes that the division can continue to play a key role, despite the challenges faced by it.
‘Although we now have a whole new board in place,’ he says, ‘we acknowledge the excellent work done by the outgoing board. A lot of the time, GAA administration is a thankless task. It’s overlooked at times and it’s important that that it is appreciated. Everybody who is or has been involved with running the Beara division does so in the best interests of the division and does their best.
‘To have nine new people involved is fair going! It shows that people want to put their shoulder to the wheel to help Beara GAA, keeping it strong into the future.’