There are three contenders for the vacant Laois GAA chairman’s position which will be voted on at next month’s annual convention.
Peter O’Neill’s decision to step down after four years in the role (he could have stayed on for another if he had wished) means there will be an election at convention a year sooner than had been expected.
Nominations closed last Friday and current vice-chairman Tom Clear from Clough-Ballacolla, Leinster Council delegate PJ Kelly from Timahoe and former executive member Kieran Leavy from Portarlington have all been proposed for chairman.
It will be the first time for Clear and Kelly to challenge for the top position though Leavy did run against Peter O’Neill twice – in 2017 when O’Neill was first elected and again at last year’s convention.
There are five people nominated for vice-chair – Tom Clear, who holds the role, Kieran Leavy, former PRO and Coaching Officer Pat O’Sullivan from Stradbally, Mary Whelan from Ballypickas and Jody Conway from Clonaslee-St Manman’s who previously held a seat on the executive as the Irish Officer.
Fergal Byron initially signalled his intention to step down as Coaching Officer though he is the only person nominated for that role and could see out the final year of his four-year term.
The Laois GAA convention is being held in the Midlands Park Hotel on Monday, December 6.
At the moment it is planned for the convention to take place in person. Last year it was held on Microsoft Teams with clubs represented by one delegate instead of the usual three.
Voting was done by a postal vote on that occasion though clubs did have three votes as normal. Last year 150 votes were cast for both the chair and vice-chair positions where O’Neill beat Leavy by 95 votes to 55 and Tom Clear beat Bryan Breen from O’Dempsey’s by 77 votes to 73.
Other roles that need to be filled on the Laois GAA executive include chairman of the football committee, a position that has been vacant since Laurence Phelan stepped down earlier this year. That is a position that will be appointed by the new chairman.
The Development Officer role – which is also an appointed position and currently held by Ger Slevin from Clough-Ballacolla (though originally O’Dempsey’s) – is being split into two roles from 2022 onwards, as decided by the GAA’s recent Special Congress.
From 2022 on it will be divided into Safety and Facilities Officer and Training and Planning Officer.
Both of those roles will be appointed rather than elected and both will hold a position on the executive.