BÓL Chumann’s Convention, held at The Munster Arms Hotel, Bandon, on November 30th, heard reports covering 2020 and 2021.
For chairman Michael Brennan, it was the first AGM since replacing Susan Greene at the 2019 convention. In his address, the chairman said it had been a difficult period on many fronts, but he remained focused on leading the Association through its next stage which will span the 70th anniversary of its founding.
The new Strategic Plan, which the chairman launched at the beginning of the meeting, will provide a roadmap for the way forward. It is ambitious, aspirational and will entail involvement of volunteers from all sectors.
Its Strategic Pillars are: 1. Structure, 2. Development, 3. Promotion. Under these aims it is planned to get the foundations of the sport best structured in terms of governance and finance, to have a solid base for future stability and growth in place.
It plans to put the development of the sport at the heart of what we do, particularly through coaching and the setting up of under-age structures, the women's game and providing further opportunities to play. The association plans to promote the sport to a wider audience, whilst also protecting the heritage of the sport and building stakeholder relationships. The meeting endorsed the Strategic Plan and implementation will begin immediately.
The meeting was well-attended and represented a strong show of solidarity among regions and clubs with those currently in leadership roles. Michael Brennan’s first address was stark in its content as he outlined events over the past two years.
‘The past two years have been very difficult for the Association,’ he said, ‘with events being cancelled, bowling being suspended due to Covid 19, arbitration cases, protests, internal problems caused by non-compliance with Executive decisions, cancellation of the 2020 Internationals, attacks on social media, illegal bowling and having to suspend players. We have come out the other side a stronger and more united association.
‘Bowling has resumed, the 2020 All-Ireland series has been completed, team trials have been held for the internationals in 2022 in Germany, the Strategic Plan has been launched. A new Code of Governance is being worked on. We as an Association can look forward to 2022 with renewed enthusiasm and vigour. I thank you, the delegates, for all your efforts at whatever level you are at within the Association’.
New Honorary Secretary Michéal O’Ceallachain’s report was constrained by not having documents from the previous secretary at hand. He said the completion of the three 2020 All-Ireland series was a significant achievement for the Association.
Treasurer James O’Driscoll gave a full and comprehensive report on the finances of the Association assisted by Edmund Neville, Christy Naughton & Co Certified Accountants. There were two sets of accounts for 2020 and 2021. Edmund Neville certified that the treasurer’s reports were correct and complied with all the regulations and were correct in detail. The 2020 Statement of Accounts were proposed by Pat O’Sullivan and seconded by Teddy Bradley. The 2021 Statement of accounts were proposed by Denis Kelly and seconded by Jerome Casey.
PRO Pat McCarthy read a review of the Association’s activities spanning the two-year period which again detailed the successful All-Ireland and King of the Roads series. His report referenced the Covid impact, administrative difficulties and the unsavoury consequences of online misuse. The passing of some of bowling’s former greats during 2020/21 was acknowledged too.
The election of officers saw some changes. Willie Murphy, North Cork, is new vice-chairman succeeding Carbery’s Pat O’Sullivan who has capably filled the role since 2002. Pat’s involvement at administrative level dates from the late 1960s when he became secretary of Cahermore Bowling Club. He served with the West Cork Bowling Association and has been ever-present with the Carbery division since its inception in 1987. Pat has served Ból Chumann as youth officer, Honorary Secretary (1996-1999) as well as his tenure as vice-chair. His 28 years of service was acknowledged with a warm round of applause by the delegates present.
Fixtures Secretary Harry Jennings is also departing and is another with a long and distinguished period of service. Harry has had an administrative input that spans five decades, having attended his first convention as a delegate in 1968. He was, of course, one of those who made the inaugural trip to Holland in 1969 when the European Championship series was set in motion. Harry has served as an officer with Cottage Road, The Miles and Shannonvale bowling clubs and as fixtures secretary for the South-West region. He assumed the demanding role of Association Fixtures secretary in 2001 when succeeding John Cronin. James O’Driscoll spoke glowingly of the service Harry has given to the bowling game. A successor to Harry was not appointed at the meeting.
The remaining officers were unanimously re-elected. Those serving for 2022 are: President, Liam O’Keefe; chairman, Michael Brennan; vice chair, Willie Murphy; honorary secretary, Michéal O’Ceallacháin; treasurer, James O’Driscoll; registrar, Billy McAuliffe; PRO, Pat McCarthy; Youths Officer, David Murphy.
Lively debate followed the introduction of motions from regions. An East Cork motion urging that in a ‘called bowl’ situation, the shorter of the two or three throws be the marked down tip was contested on many fronts and was defeated. A Carbery motion that all novice grades be played out to county final stage was carried while another from East Cork that Ból Chumann set-up its own independent alternative disciplinary structure and withdraw from the SDSI (Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland) received overwhelming support.
The Connacht region, who were represented by David Hughes and Joe Sheridan, had motions relating to the participation of U12 and U14 grades, boys and girls, in the All-Ireland series. An alternative motion allowing for the setting up in conjunction with Ból Chumann Ard Mhacha, of a special underage All-Ireland weekend series, was deemed satisfactory to Connacht while the new three-year strategy covered further motions proposing expansion and development.
It was also agreed that zoom facilities would be in place for future conventions.