Secretary's Report - League Reports - Secretary's Report 2012/13
Secretary's Report 2012/13
Another Season has come to an end but while the Playing and Coaching Fraternity take a well-deserved break Administrators at League and Club level have to maintain our ‘drive’ as we review the Season past and prepare for the Season ahead which will soon be upon us with all of its customary inherent problems. For us the Season never ends and my thanks go to all those who keep the League and its Member Clubs running throughout the year.
It has been another eventful year and although we have witnessed many considerable challenges in 2012/2013 there can be no doubt that this has been a year of significant progress. The positive and encouraging achievements made, not least in terms of Governance and Finance, are sources of inspiration and I have pleasure in presenting my account of the activities of the League during 2012/2013.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a different form of words to describe what has been a consistent pattern of events so I hope that you will forgive me a certain similarity in parts between this and previous Reports.
The 2012/2013 Season commenced on Tuesday 14th August with the annual Kennedy Cup match between the previous Season’s Mercer League Champions and Mulhern Cup Winners and ended on Saturday 17th May. During that period six hundred and eighty matches were scheduled in nine Competitions.
Football in the Fermanagh & Western region remains strong and the Season past saw the expansion of our Competitions from six to nine with the addition of the Division 3 League Cup, the Youth Division and the Youth Division League Cup. Much has been made of our efforts to provide meaningful competitive structures which would ensure a development pathway for our talented Underage Players. I am aware that our initial attempt was met with little enthusiasm but it is imperative that we improve the continuum between Youth and Adult Football and we are hopeful that the initiative will be developed further in 2013/2014 and become a regular part of the Competitions Calendar.
The past Season did not disappoint and on pitches all across the region we have seen skill, pace and enthusiasm in all of our Competitions – not necessarily all at the same time! Our League Competitions were compelling and as keenly contested as ever while the League Cup Competitions added a new dimension to the Football Calendar. Together they provided nine months of competitive and enthralling matches to an ever increasing and appreciative audience. Some Teams will reflect on a very good campaign whilst others fell short of their expectations and will lament what could have been!
The number of Clubs was reduced by one following the exodus of Ballinamallard United Reserves and seventy-one Teams, representative of thirty-three Clubs, entered our various Competitions. The withdrawal of Mountjoy United III on the eve of the Season was a portent of things to come and subsequent withdrawals saw the departures of Beragh Swifts U18s, Spamount Swifts Reserves, Dergview U18s, St Patricks U18s and St Patricks Reserves which had a considerable negative impact on the League Programme with
playing records being expunged in all cases except in the case of St Patricks U18s where points were awarded to opponents.
The League Programme was also weather affected with several Saturdays almost entirely lost to snow, low temperatures and heavy rainfall but we succeeded in completing an enlarged Match Programme within the permitted time schedules.
An unacceptable total of nineteen matches were not played and appropriate fines (ranging from £75.00 to £100.00) were imposed on those Teams that forfeited the points for these matches to their opponents who had score-lines of 3-0 recorded in their favour in accordance with League Rules and FIFA Regulations. There were many and varied reasons postulated as to why Teams were unable or unwilling to play matches and it is an incontrovertible fact that our Competitions were undermined by their inactions.
A total of four games were abandoned – two because of a serious injuries sustained by Players, one because of an assault on a Referee and one because of a mass brawl involving Players and Supporters. Appropriate fines in accordance with Article 19 of the Irish Football Association’s Disciplinary Code were imposed by the Management Committee on miscreants in the latter two cases.
A total of four Protests / Claim for Points were lodged by Teams who alleged that their opponents had played ineligible players. The only Team found guilty of having played an ineligible player had the decision subsequently overturned by the Irish Football Association’s Appeals Board.
A total of five Teams were found guilty of having breached Registration Rules and where appropriate the matches were declared “null and void” and points not awarded. In all cases the miscreants were fined £75.00.
We pay tribute to our Champion Teams – Enniskillen Town United, Lisnaskea Rovers, NFC Kesh, Strathroy Harps Reserves, Lisnaskea Rovers Reserves and Dunbreen Rovers Reserves - on their achievements as well as to all those Teams that won promotion – Shelbourne, Drumquin United, NFC Kesh Reserves and Omagh Hospitals Reserves.
Mercer Cup (Division 1) – Sponsored By: ABC for PCs Before the Season began many pundits were predicting that the battle for the Mercer League would be another two horse race between Lisbellaw United and Enniskillen Town United and as the campaign unfolded they were proved to be correct. Four years on from their history equalling fifth consecutive Mercer League title “Town” wrestled the title back from last Season’s Champions to claim their sixth Championship. It was another close fight between the duopoly and with the intensity of their rivalry unwavering it was “Town” who persevered with an eventual eight points winning margin. Relinquishing the title to “Town” will have been especially hard for the Drumad based side but no one can doubt that “Town” were deserved title winners after after embarking on a quite incredible run from early December until the end of the Season.
Killen Rangers were the undoubted surprise package of the Season and even though their implausibly brilliant challenge did not last to their immense credit it did not entirely die either and they finished in a most creditable third position on their return to the top tier after an absence of six years. Their first Season back surely exceeded their own Supporters’ expectations!
Enniskillen Rangers’ form was clearly not good enough to mount a credible challenge and their fourth position was yet another improvement on the previous Season’s final placing.
The first half of the Season was the usual struggle for Strathroy Harps and four defeats in their opening six matches left them off the pace. Understandably their focus on winning the Irish Junior Cup for a second successive Season harmed their progression in the League and their unprecedented achievement in becoming the first Fermanagh & Western Club to retain Junior Football’s Blue Riband Trophy brought great honour to themselves and the League once again.
Dergview Reserves stumbled along to an uninspiring mid-table finish where they were joined by Beragh Swifts whose promising start to the campaign ended with ultimate disappointment following their downward spiral in the second half of the Season.
Another mid-table finish constitutes business as usual for the Division’s longest serving Members Tummery Athletic and they finished ahead of Fintona Swifts who had an indeterminate Season without much of a relegation scare
After back-to-back promotions Strabane Athletic Reserves found life in the top flight quite a struggle but they thoroughly deserved to retain their top flight status after being firmly entrenched in the relegation zone for much of the Season.
For the second time in three Seasons Irvinestown Wanderers found life in the top flight quite a struggle and the dysfunctional Club’s instant demise was probably to be expected. Failure to field in their final two matches resulted in their deserved relegation and no-one was really sorry to see them go.
St Patricks looked doomed from a long way out and won only three matches following a traumatic and turbulent Season. They scored fewer and conceded more goals than any other Team in the Division but they deserve enormous credit for fulfilling all of their matches in which defeat was invariably their lot.
Enda Love Cup (Division 2) – Sponsored By: The Print Factory Lisnaskea Rovers won the Division 2 Championship for the third time and ended their seven year exile from the top flight. There had been a lot made of their influx of players and although there was the occasional blip as the Season wore on they always had so much in hand over anybody else that there was never really any doubt that they would go and lift the title. They had a commanding seven points lead over Runners-Up Shelbourne and a thirteen points advantage over third placed Glebe United.
Although Shelbourne ended the campaign a distant second they achieved their aim of an immediate return to the top tier and few will query their credentials of making an impact.
Glebe United, despite finishing in third position, never threatened one of the promotion places and their haul of forty-one points amazingly included nine points which were awarded to them following the failure of opponents to field.
Derrychara United performed above expectations and few people expected them to battle for promotion. Defeat in three of their final four games scuppered their promotion aspirations but nonetheless they finished in a very creditable fourth position.
A slow start to the season ruined what little chance Enniskillen Santos had of making an immediate return to Division 1 and they will have to settle for playing Division 2 Football for at least another Season.
Both Strule United and Maguiresbridge both amassed thirty points as they consolidated their positions while newly promoted Lisnarick comfortably survived their first Season back in the second tier.
Sion Mills Rec lost their opening four matches but subsequently enjoyed an upturn in their fortunes and comfortably retained their Division 2 status finishing eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Spamount Swifts had another Season flirting with relegation and another Season avoiding it while relegated Omagh Hospitals were seldom without the bottom two places for most of the Season.
Ardstraw Reserves just managed to keep themselves in Division 2 in recent Seasons but 2012/2013 was a fight too far and they finished where most people expected them to finish – bottom.
Brendan Keogh Memorial Cup (Division 3) After a four year sojourn in the Northern Ireland Intermediate League NFC Kesh made a welcome return to the League and were many people’s tip for immediate promotion. The tipsters were proved correct and they sealed the title with two matches to spare finishing a comfortable five points clear of Drumquin United who were involved in an intriguing battle for the Runners-Up position with Erne Rovers whose performances exceeded their pre-Season expectations.
Dunbreen Rovers’ title challenge dramatically faded after an impressive opening four game winning sequence and they finished well adrift of the promotion places in fourth place.
Magheraveely’s form was rather inconsistent throughout the Season and they replicated their previous fifth position while Orchard Farm’s sixth position was an improvement of one place on the previous Season.
Two successive fourth place finishes had raised Fivemiletown United II’s expectations of mounting a sustained promotion challenge but they had a disappointing campaign and finished in seventh place.
Augher Stars had a much improved campaign while relegated Mountjoy United Reserves had another turbulent Season and they finished haplessly in bottom position with their only victory coming in their final match.
Division 3 League Cup Augher Stars were the only Team not to enter the inaugural Division 3 League Cup which, apart from the Final, was played on two-legged knockout basis. After several exhilarating First Round Ties Dunbreen Rovers, Erne Rovers, Fivemiletown United II and NFC Kesh reached the Semi-finals where Dunbreen Rovers made history by becoming the first team to progress in a local Cup Competition by virtue of the Away Goals Rule and were most unlucky not to deny their opponents in the Final NFC Kesh their second trophy of the year.
Pete Keane Memorial Cup (Reserve Division 1) Having lost out to Lisbellaw United Reserves last Season Strathroy Harps Reserves went head-to-head with the Drumad based side again in 2012/2013 and they clinched their second Championship with victory over Beragh Swifts Reserves on the final day.
A record third successive title was a huge ask for the defending Champions but they made a spirited defence of their crown finishing only two points behind the new Champions.
Third placed Killen Rangers Reserves had a much improved campaign but never really threatened like Enniskillen Rangers Reserves who replicated their fourth position of the previous Season.
Beragh Swifts Reserves had a strong first half to the campaign but then stuttered almost to a halt and they finished in fifth place – six points ahead of newly promoted Shelbourne Reserves who had one of their best ever Seasons.
By contrast six times Champions Enniskillen Town United Reserves had one of their worst ever Seasons as they shared seventh position with Glebe United Reserves.
After finishing one place above the relegation zone in the previous two Seasons 2012/2013 was a campaign too many for Tummery Athletic Reserves who had the unenviable distinction of being the only Team in the League not to win a match and now find themselves in Reserve Division 2 for the first time since Season 2001/2002.
Robin Porter Memorial Cup (Reserve Division 2) Lisnaskea Rovers Reserves and NFC Kesh Reserves dominated the Division from the outset and both will be playing in the top tier of Reserve Division football after respective absences of four and five years. The Castle Park based side clinched a first Reserve Division 2 title in their final game with a comprehensive win over Enniskillen Town United Colts who finished in a creditable third position for the second successive Season.
Newly promoted Dergview III performed consistently well throughout and finished an impressive fourth – two points ahead of recently relegated Fintona Swifts Reserves who
stumbled along to an uninspiring mid-table finish.
Maguiresbridge Reserves had a successful first ever Season in Reserve Division 2 and they will be relatively happy with their mid-table finish.
Lisbellaw United III’s late Season revival saw them easily retain their Reserve Division 2 status and they finished one point ahead of Orchard Farm Reserves who replicated their eighth position of the previous Season.
Enniskillen Santos Reserves find themselves in the bottom tier of Reserve Division Football once again after an abject campaign which saw them gain maximum points on only two occasions.
Patton Cup (Reserve Division 3) The race for the Patton Cup was alive until the final day of the Season when Dunbreen Rovers Reserves’ victory saw them attain top spot in the Division for the first time and take the title by a single point from Runners-Up Omagh Hospitals Reserves and win only the Club’s third League title in this their Golden Jubilee Year.
The Cranny Bridge based side’s victories over third placed Derrychara United Reserves helped them claim the Runners-Up position at the expense of their opponents - the hitherto perennial strugglers will be disappointed to have missed out on a first ever promotion.
Killen Rangers III’s joint-third position was commendable while Fivemiletown United III would have harboured aspirations of an immediate return to Reserve Divison 2 but they were unable to find any real consistency and finished in mid-table.
Strule United Reserves would also have aspired to a top two finish but they finished in sixth place – a drop of three places on the previous Season.
Relegated Lisnarick Reserves and NFC Kesh III had indeterminate Seasons and they both finished eight points ahead of bottom placed Irvinestown Wanderers Reserves.
Youth Division The withdrawals of Beragh Swifts, Dergview and St Patricks resulted in a decimated programme of matches but nevertheless an intriguing battle to become the first Winners of the inaugural Youth Division took place as Enniskillen Rangers, Lisnaskea Rovers and NFC Kesh all vied for supremacy.
A Play-Off was required to seperate the two Leisure Centre based Teams after they had both amassed twenty-three points – three points more than third placed NFC Kesh. The Castle Park based side made history by being crowned Champions after they scored the Play-Off’’s only goal.
NFC Kesh, whose contribution to a thrilling and fascinating campaign cannot be underestimated, finished six points ahead of Lisbellaw United who in turn had the same margin to spare over Mountjoy United.
Youth Division League Cup A reduced Entry was further diminished by the ‘failure to field’ of Enniskillen Rangers. Lisbellaw United and Lisnaskea Rovers contested the first ever Final which was played at Fisher Park, Ballinamallard where extra-time was required before the Castle Park based side scored the only goal of a keenly contested Tie to complete a memorable ‘League and League Cup Double’.
The Annual Season Curtain Raiser between the previous Season’s Mercer League Champions (Lisbellaw United) and Mulhern Cup Winners (Enniskillen Town United) was played at Drumad, Lisbellaw on Tuesday 14th August when the “home” side relinquished their hold on the trophy following a 3-2 defeat.
The League is appreciative of the Lisbellaw United Club which provided their facilities free of charge and the Match Officials who did not seek reimbursement for their services. These generous gestures enabled a donation of £1,000.00 to be divided equally between the nominated Charities of the two Teams - Lisbellaw United - Horizon West and Enniskillen Town United - Fermanagh Visually Impaired Persons Club.
The communication needs of the League are now almost entirely met by the use of the internet. All Meeting Notices, Agendas, Minutes of Meetings, Fines, Match Schedules, General News and Updates are now emailed to Stakeholders including Clubs, Delegates, Local Media and Local District Councils.
During the year our website www.fermanaghandwestern.com underwent a major overhaul and will be relaunched at the League’s Information Evening which will be held in the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown on Thursday 25th July 2013.
The website will feature a vastly improved design and will provide greater functionality and page content. It will be an invaluable source of information about the League and its activities and there will simply no excuse for not knowing what is going on in the Game locally. It will also allow better interaction with our Members by providing direct access to Facebook and Twitter accounts and it is sure to become a focal point for all in the
years ahead. Our thanks go to Brian Illand for his work in setting up the site for us. The effort required to ensure that we provide the service expected by our Member Clubs will be prodigious and selected Volunteers will be required to post and maintain content.
The coverage of our matches in the local press throughout the year compares favourably with the previous year’s although one frustrating and disappointing aspect of the media reportage is their continuing failure to provide an adequate coverage of League affairs. Newspapers will seize upon any bad news, unrest, infighting, potential embarrassments or scandal but mundane administrative matters will always be absent from their coverage. Notwithstanding we are appreciative of the efforts of Colm Bradley (Fermanagh Herald), Tommy Nethery (Tyrone / Ulster Herald), Mark Conway and Gareth Cauldwell (Impartial Reporter), Chris Caldwell (Tyrone Constitution).
My dislike, distaste and distrust of the local press was strengthened by Tommy Nethery who. in an article entitled “The debate rages on………”, which was published in The Tyrone Herald on 3rd June, very significantly distorted comments I made to him during a conversation prior to the League’s recent Annual Awards Dinner. As a sportswriter he can give voice to his opinion but not his own set of facts and he should not perpetuate erroneous information. All that does is undermine his credibility and he can be assured that any future conversation I have with him will be mono-syllabic!
While Refereeing Standards will always attract debate it is an incontrovertible fact that without Referees Players would have a much poorer playing experience and we are indebted to the Fermanagh & Western Referees’ Association who continue to meet the demands placed upon it by the League and its Member Clubs whilst at the same time helping in the development of its individual Members by maintaining a programme of development, assessment and support.
We continue to have an excellent working relationship with the local Referees’ Association and we remain committed to fostering this association and working towards their objectives which remain broadly in line with ours. We continue to engage on a regular basis with them and discussions have always been positive, albeit vigorous and robust at times, as we work together for the good of the Game. I sincerely thank them for their on-going co-operation.
Dialogue sessions between Referees and Club Officials are planned and hopefully they will be positive, informative and beneficial to all.
The process of appointing Referees to matches has become more onerous over the years and it is to Basil Marshall’s credit that despite bad weather interventions, late ‘cry-offs’ and rearranged matches he manages to deal with all scenarios placed before him. It goes without saying that the League is most appreciative of his work and diligence in appointing Referees.
We were all very pleased and proud to see Arnold Hunter appointed to referee the recent Marie Curie Irish Cup Final. Arnold’s status as one of Northern Ireland’s elite Referees is an example of what can be achieved by absolute dedication and hard work and he has never lost sight of his Fermanagh & Western roots and continues to support the local Referees’ Association in his role as Treasurer it is a fundamental tenet within the League that we support our Referees and so it was a particular concern when one of their Members chose to publicly lambast a decision of the Management Committee pertaining to the ‘postponed’ Reserve Division 2 match between Enniskillen Town United Colts and Lisnaskea Rovers Reserves. His comments, which were perceived as being contemptuous, denigratory, disrespectful and offensive towards the Management Committee in general and myself in particular, resulted in his suspension which was subsequently taken on board by the local Football Association.
Treasurer Gordon Lee will report that the League remains in good financial health having built a sound financial base over the past three years.
The Accounts comprise a Summary Income and Expenditure Account, a Detailed Challenge Cups / League Cups & Play-Off Income and Expenditure Sheet and a Sundries Breakdown Sheet in the same format as in previous years to reflect the activities of the Association / League in a clear and consistent manner.
All activities that are shown on the income and Expenditure Sheet are set out in such a manner to show clearly from what sources our Income is derived and where it is spent. This year’s Income at £37,893 is £4,946 more than last year’s while Expenditure has risen by £5,142 but includes one-off payments in respect of new Mercer Cup and Mulhern Cup bases, the purchase of the new website and Divisional Teams / Players of the Year Awards Season 2011/2012. The excess of Income over Expenditure for the year is £1,713 - a reduction of £196 against last year’s.
As in previous years the recessionary climate continued to affect during the past season with many of our income streams being frozen. We have not relaxed in our endeavours to control our Expenditure and special efforts were made to reduce costs where possible. Honoraria were frozen for the third successive Season which enabled our Finances to remain stable and a modest operating surplus was recorded.
The down-turn in the economy has made obtaining sponsorship an increasingly difficult task. The marketing budgets of local businesses have contracted and consequently the funds available for investment in local sport have diminished and we have been unable to attract any meaningful sponsorship despite a lot of effort by various Individuals. It is appropriate to recognise the League’s two Sponsors – ABC for PCs and The Print Factory – who remain enthusiastic partners of the League. Their support is greatly appreciated.
The primary aim of the Information Evening, which was held for Clubs on 9th August in the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown, was to provide information and was an opportunity for Officers of the League and Club Officials to get together in an informal atmosphere to discuss issues of mutual interest and importance. The Information Evening, although poorly attended yet again, was nevertheless a success and we shall continue to promote them in the future.
Management of Fermanagh & Western Football requires contributions from a broad spectrum of people but most importantly Club Representatives who must be encouraged to contribute and be valued for their contribution. The League’s Management Committee, led by our highly regarded and effective Chairman Neil Jardine, continues to deal with an ever-increasing amount of work and we remain most fortunate that the commitment and expertise brought by so many Members of our Management Committee remains as strong as ever. We are all Volunteers who give generously of our time and bring to the League a vast mix of attributes, skills and experience and it is no surprise that we are recognised as being one of the Irish Football Association’s most efficient and effective Constituent Bodies. I remain immensely impressed by those in busy full-time employment who find time to contribute fully whenever called upon. Even many of those who are fully retired are also heavily involved in other areas. We all owe them a large debt of gratitude for their wise counsel and dedication.
Notwithstanding we continue to face a major shortage of Volunteer Administrators demanding as we do the essentials of leadership, integrity and commitment coupled with influence, specialist knowledge and experience and finally – time and willingness to serve. We need new Volunteers with the necessary attributes and the more we have the more we can share the tasks and the less time any one person needs to commit. All of you are very eligible and more than welcome to put yourself forward to assist in any way which best suits you, your Club and the League. No post is a sinecure – many can be frustrating but all can be very satisfying. Please speak up – your League needs YOU now!
The Management Committee met on the customary eight occasions throughout the Season and attendances at Meetings were excellent despite several Members being unable to attend Meetings during the year because of business pressures in part generated by the current economic climate. A Register of Attendances is included at the end of this Report.
The Rules Revision Committee met in January to consider, prepare and draft alterations and additions where necessary to the League’s Rules which were subsequently put forward to an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting for approval. There are some who seem to believe that the Rules do not really apply to them or that they have been produced only to give them personal aggravation. Others seem to think that we should amend whatever Rule they may have breached and pass new ones just to accommodate their particular needs. That attitude needs to be eradicated.
We must strive to provide the most effective infra-structures we can to ensure that we deliver the best possible service to our Member Clubs. A review and revision of our Committees’ effectiveness will be one of our major tasks in the year/s ahead.
Club Education remains a priority and an important part of our role is to identify Clubs that are struggling off the field. It is therefore pleasing to note that the Irish Football Association’s Club Education and Development Programme will eventually be rolled out over the coming months. All Clubs will be invited to participate in a number of seminars pertaining to Club Administration & Finance, Responsibilities of Club Officials, Player Registration, Record Keeping, Communications, etc. Selected Clubs will receive Defibrillators and Training and / or First Aid Kits and Training while all Clubs may avail of free Sports Nutrition / Mental Health Seminars.
My thanks go to the Irish Football Association’s Aongus O’Keeffe (Club and Community Development Officer), Geoff Wilson (Head of Marketing and Communications) and
Maria Wilson (Volunteer Development & Policy Officer) for their hard work and tenacity in bringing the Club Education and Development Programme to fruition.
You may be aware that during the course of my Annual Report Season 2011/2012 I highlighted instances of verbal abuse that had been directed at me on two occasions. It is with regret that I am obliged to inform you that such type abuse continues. Offensive and obscene comments pertaining to myself have been published on the Social Media Site “F&W Banter” while League President Martin Hanna and myself were recently subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse and his property set upon by a Registered Player with Lisbellaw United. Such type incidents, which are undoubtedly in breach of Article 14 of the IFA Disciplinary Code Season 2012/2013, must be eradicated. The perpetrators must be called to account for their actions and consequently these incidents will be brought to the attention of the League’s Management Committee and the local Football Association who will determine appropriate disciplinary action.
The League’s second Hall Of Fame Dinner was held in The Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on Friday 22nd February when 47 invited guests were present to witness the induction of another two wonderful servants of the local Game, Billy McElroy and Robin Mitchell, into the League’s Hall Of Fame. Both Willie, in his capacity as a former Treasurer and Chairman of the IFA’s Junior Committee, and Robin, as a former President of long standing, have made massive contributions to Football locally and regionally and I know that they were humbled and immensely proud of this recognition by the League. Both gentlemen were presented with magnificent Galway Crystal trophies and medals by former Northern Ireland International Jim Cleary whose unpretentious demeanour added to the occasion.
Once again the Dinner was a spectacular success and a memorable occasion for all who were there but especially those Members of the McElroy and Mitchell Families who were in attendance.
In a fantastic celebration of the local Game and everything that is great about it the Football Family (or half of it) came together in The Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on Friday 24th May to commemorate a wonderful Season, celebrate the achievements of our Champion Teams and recognise the Divisional Teams and Players of the Year.
115 people attended the League’s third Annual Awards Dinner which saw the crowning of Strathroy Harps’ Darren Teague as Player of the Year in succession to Enniskillen Town United’s Gary Beckett. Christopher Keenan (Enniskillen Santos) and Mark Jones (NFC Kesh) succeeded Trevor Morrison (Killen Rangers) and David Burke (Sion Mills Rec) as Division 2 and Division 3 Players of the Year respectively while Fintona Swifts’ Cain Hamilton succeeded Matthew McAuley (Enniskllen Town United) as the Young Player of the Year. Congratulations to all of our Players of the Year and to all of the Players who were selected for the Divisional Teams of the Year.
Shortlists for the various Players of the Year and Divisional Teams of the Year were released in advance of the Annual Awards Dinner and prompted the inevitable barrage of criticism. After the accusations aimed at the League, Chairman Neil Jardine and myself people need to be reminded that it’s a vote – not a conspiracy! There were questions
about the criteria, criticisms about inclusions and exclusions with that doyen of Sportswriters Tommy Nethery expressing surprise at the poor representation of Irish Junior Cup Winners Strathroy Harps. May I remind him, and indeed all Clubs, that the selection of the various Players of the Year and Divisional Teams of the Year Player are contingent on players’ performances as determined by their opponents in matches played in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 only and NOT matches played in the Irish Junior Cup or Mulhern Cup. Surely the titles of the various Awards (e.g. Division 1 Team of the Year) are self-explanatory! But then again maybe not!
Thanks go to those Clubs and the local Referees’ Association who attended and thoroughly enjoyed the Awards Dinner which was once again a huge success and will inevitably become a well-established and important Function in the Social Calendar in the years ahead despite the enduring indifference of many of our Member Clubs. The following eleven Clubs have yet to honour us with their presence at the Awards Dinner: Ardstraw, Augher Stars, Dergview, Erne Rovers, Fivemiletown United, Glebe United, Magheraveely, Mountjoy United, Omagh Hospitals, Sion Mills Rec and Spamount Swifts.
It is difficult to adequately convey just how much work is performed within and on behalf of the League by my fellow Officers and Members of the Management Committee. At times it is a thankless job where you never hear the positives and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their support and commitment to the many tasks at hand and thank them for their individual and collective contributions to the League over many years.
My personal thanks to our Chairman Neil Jardine for his continuing guidance and support and for being so readily available to assist the League at all times.
While many of our Clubs have very able Administrators there appears to be an anti-administration culture when it comes to the League and so it was that our Treasurer Gordon Lee took over the responsibilities of Registrar at last Season’s Annual General Meeting. Despite the added burden of a second Officership Gordon settled very quickly into his new role and I thank him for unstinting efforts on behalf of the League.
I would like to thank the retiring Rory Lynch for his service to the League. Rory spent three years as Registrar and in thanking him for his services I also acknowledge previous Officers for the time that they volunteered and the expertise and service that they contributed.
Once again I would like to acknowledge and commend the many wonderful Volunteers and Club Officials who, without much reward and even less recognition, offer their time freely and willingly every week to our Sport so that others can play. To all of you I simply say “thank you”.
The League wishes to record its thanks to Ballinamallard United, Lisbellaw United and Mountjoy United for making their pitches available during the Season.
The League continues to hold all of its Meetings in the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown and we are fortunate to have unlimited access to the excellent services that the Centre provides. We are indebted to its personable Manager George Beacom and his staff for
their renowned courtesy and co-operation. We are also indebted to them for continuing to administer the Bawnacre Results Service which is an outstanding facility enjoyed by our Member Clubs and the general public alike.
As with every year the League, and its Member Clubs, has lost many of its friends over the past twelve months. I will not recall individually all of those we sadly lost in case I would omit someone and cause offence. However it would be remiss of me not to make reference to David McCubbin (father of Management Committee Member Iain McCubbin) and Beragh Swifts’ Player Gary Freed whose sudden death in early April shocked the local Football Community. On behalf of the League I would like to offer sincere sympathies to both Family circles and indeed to all Members who have been bereaved by the loss of those dear to them.
As always it has been a pleasure to serve as your Secretary as we strive towards continued growth and the development of our Game. There remains much to do and there are many challenges ahead particularly in the areas of Funding, Personnel and Resourcing but I am increasingly confident that we are on the right track. Only ten weeks to go before it starts all over again!! Roll on next Season!!