An Open Letter to Kildare GAA

It was with no little dismay that I read this morning of the plans for the Kildare GAA Awards night. It went thusly..

Kildare GAA Awards Night

Saturday 22nd November

Venue: Celbridge GAA Club

Presentation of Medals to: Christy Ring Cup Winners, Leinster & All Ireland U21 B  Hurling Winners, O’Byrne Cup Winners.

Club of the year Award, Player of the year awards ( Football & Hurling )

Buffet Meal and DJ

Tickets: €20 Available from Hawkfield

Now, far be it from me to criticise the hard working people in Kildare GAA, and I can assure you I know how hard they work, but this is just utterly pathetic. And unfortunately pathetic is the word.

Celbridge clubhouse is a fine set-up in a fine club but really and truly is this where Kildare GAA should be celebrating their year? With a buffet and DJ. For €20!? It just smacks of a slapdash approach to what should be a very important night on the GAA calender of the county.

I’ve ranted about this already on Twitter, but now let me put forward what I believe would be something which would do justice to both the intercounty players, club players and club administrators who have toiled so much over this (and every other) season.

First of all, it should be staged in a hotel. How there is not a hotel available in November or early December for an organisation with the clout of Kildare GAA in the county is beyond me. Book a hotel for a proper three course meal as any club would do for their members. Get the event sponsored. Surely there are businesses out there that would have no problem sponsoring the event, which could offset the cost of the hotel? It’s worth looking into in my opinion.

Next get in a guest speaker. It’s not difficult, there are plenty of people out there that would be perfect for the gig and would bring in a few extra bodies to hear them speak.

This year the Kildare hurlers created history on two fronts by winning the Christy Ring Cup and the All Ireland B under 21 titles for the first time ever. That deserves huge plaudits and those players deserve their night in the spotlight. They deserve to be feted by their County Board, All Stars style, in full view of their family, friends and loved ones. Handing out medals in a hall while people wander along a buffet table is not the way to do that.

The footballers deserve their rewards too, and while an O’Byrne Cup medal is not all they set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, it is a medal, they deserve their reward and on top of that they get a chance for a nice meal, a catch up with their team-mates and a chance to mingle with their hurling fraternity on a night out, something that doesn’t always happen.

There is to be awards for Club of the Year. This is a massive accolade so why not announce a top three and invite the clubs along and announce the winner on the night? It would make for a bit of excitement and swell the numbers further at the banquet.

Similarly the Player of the Year in Football and Hurling is to be awarded. Presuming that this is for inter-county players then why not, as pointed out by my colleague Ruth Chambers on twitter as they do in Offaly, award the top players at every level of the inter-county teams from minor, under 21 and senior.

While we’re at it, why not award club players of the year? Imagine the sense of satisfaction a player would feel from being named the Senior club footballer or the Intermediate Hurler of the Year? It would be a reward for all the hard work, all the hours training, all the missed nights at home, all the weekends in because of games, 99% of it away from the spotlight, in off-Broadway games that not everyone gets to see.

Put all this together, advertise it, make it known to the clubs, get friends and family involved, get a young Kildare band to play after, perhaps making it a night that musicians from the county want to be part of in years to come. Get Mick Konstantin and his ukulele up there! Make it a celebration of Kildare, a night out for the players, their wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, those who have had to put their lives on hold as well as they watched their loved ones train harder than ever before with very little reward.

Make it a night that people want to be part of, that makes them proud to be a Lilywhite.

P.S. And who knows, it might even work as a fundraiser!!

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