Cavan’s Aogán Ó Fearghail to be next GAA president

Cavan man defeats Wexford’s Sheamus Howlin and Seán Walsh from Kerry

 Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese and husband Martin are presented with a painting by GAA president-elect Aogán O Fearghail at the Croke Park Hotel. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese and husband Martin are presented with a painting by GAA president-elect Aogán O Fearghail at the Croke Park Hotel. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 22:57

Cavan’s Aogán Ó Fearghail became president-elect of the GAA on Friday night. He will assume office in 12 months.

In the first election since 2008 – incumbent Liam O’Neill was elected unopposed three years ago in Mullingar – Ó Fearghail (54) was the emphatic choice of this year’s annual congress in Croke Park this weekend, getting elected on the first count.

He defeated Wexford’s Sheamus Howlin from the St Martin’s club and Seán Walsh from Moyvane in Kerry. The poll was 311. One vote was spoiled. Ó Fearghail received 170, Howlin 83 and Walsh 57.

He thanked his opponents “for providing a democratic opportunity” for the association and added that although he would not touch on policy before the start of his term of office, four Fs would inform his presidency.

“Fixtures because at heart we are a sports organisation, facilities because that’s how we draw people in – through the quality of our facilities; finance because it underpins everything . . . and family because the GAA is about men and women, boys and girls.”

He paid tribute to his family and wife Frances.

Ó Fearghail comes from the Éire Óg Drumgoon club and is a primary school principal in Dernakesh NS in Cavan. He is an experienced administrator at provincial level, having held the offices of PRO, treasurer, vice-chairman and president of the Ulster Council. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Ulster Council’s outreach, cross-community schemes and earned plaudits as a GAA spokesman in the province following the murder of association member and PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.

Ó Fearghail will be the 38th president, only the sixth from Ulster and the first since Seán McCague, 2000-03.

Earlier in the evening during a debate on the annual report of director general Páraic Duffy, he assured Europe delegate Tony Bass that in the upcoming media rights negotiations overseas coverage will be a priority.

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