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Athletics Association of Ireland Congress


Liam Hennessy is new President The Conference Room at the Radisson Hotel at Dublin airport was packed today for the first of two days of the Congress of the Athletics Association of Ireland. Junior Minister Pat Carey opened the Congress and praised the efforts of the Association, especially with young people. He pledged continued support in the future.

Outgoing President Michael Heery, in his last function in that office, welcomed the delegates from all over Ireland, and spoke on the many issues that were part of his final two year term as President.

He extended his thanks to Gary Owens whose term as independent chair of Athletics Ireland ended last December.

His one disappointment was that the schools and universities were not fully integrated into the association. However, the relationship with BHAA was very positive.

He expressed pleasure with the relationship with Northern Ireland Athletics and the Ulster Athletics Council and said that all Ulster championships are now joint championships. It was great he said to see Athletics Northern Ireland win an award for their staging of the Irish Indoor championships at the Odyssey.

Relations with the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland were excellent.

Brendan Hackett was thanked for his input into the Spar Mile Challenge, but the President stressed the need for the Association to generate our own funds.

He praised the input of the volunteers in the Association and hoped that both volunteer and paid staff would continue to work together in the future.

Following the resignation of the CEO he said that a steering committee was put in place and they would remain active until the new CEO Mary Coghlan took over on 19th May.

It was, he said, a great honour to win the right to stage the 2009 European cross country championships and he praised Liam Hennessy and everyone involved in putting together the successful bid.

He congratulated the athletes on their success over the past two years and praised the media for their coverage, saying it was a great boost to athletics. However, he did say that the media should also talk about all the other good things happening in our sport.

Mary Coghlan was praised for her part in organising the Annual Awards and that this would be an annual event.

Finally, he said that an invitation had been received from the GAA, who celebrate their 125th anniversary this year, to stage an event in Croke Park.

Liam Hennessy was elected the new President of the Association and he spoke of the great honour and privilege in accepting the position.

He had, he said, a short and moderate career as a middle distance runner and was soon pressed into an administrative role.

He said he served as Munster PRO for many years before being elelcted to the Management Committee of BLE in 1978. At national level he served four years as PRO, two years as Vice President, eight years as Secretary, before spending six years as International Secretary and Chair of High Performance with Athletics Ireland.

He thanked his former employer Eircom for their ‘flexibility’ over the years and then thanked everyone for bestowing the great honour of President on him.

Several delegates praised Breda Synnott for her contribution to athletics over many decades. She was unable to be present due to illness, but in a letter to Congress she thanked everyone for their nominations and the kind letters of concern and the prayers and best wishes of so many people.

In other elections Paddy Fay was elected Chair of Coaching (173 votes – 36 for Maeve Kyle)

Brendan McDaid was elected Chair of Competition (111 votes – 101 for Georgina Drumm).

Gerry Giblin was elected Chair of Finance and Risk (145 votes – 71 for Mihael Quinlan.

Patsy McGonagle was elected Chair of High Performance ( 170 votes – 42 for Dermot Nagle).

John McGrath was elected Chair of Juvenile (167 votes – 43 for Aine Pobjoy).

John Saunders is the Universities representative on the Board and Michael Hunt is the Schools representative.