The Annual General Meeting of Westport United took place at United Park on Friday 7th December and it was fittingly opened with a minute's silence for the deceased members of the club. The minutes of the previous AGM were read by Sharon Conway and they were adopted per se.
Before the Chairman's Address, Outgoing President, Peter Flynn addressed the floor and spoke glowingly about his term as President. He felt honoured to serve the position and thanked everybody for their support. Peter went on to speak highly of both the junior team and the club supporters, saying that they were a credit for the ways they represent the town. Mr. Flynn concluded his address by wishing the incoming President well.
Outgoing Club Chairman, Myles Staunton gave a very detailed report. He introduced his report by extending the Club's sympathies to all the deceased since the last AGM with 2018 being a difficult year with a number of people, both young and old with close links to the club passing away. There will be a Mass for deceased members in January at United Park with Fr. Ger Burns as celebrant. Tribute was paid to all the club members that performed in the various Guard of Honours throughout the year and the vast amount that attended to show the close bond within the club.
Mr Staunton thanked Peter Flynn, Club President and all Vice Presidents for their support and encouragement throughout the year. In addition, a legendary name within Westport United was made Honorary Life Member and Sean McLoughlin was bestowed the prestigious title for his contribution made to the club over many years following a proposal that was passed by the outgoing committee. A presentation will be made to Sean and the McLoughlin family.
Mr. Staunton went on to speak about United Park and how the club really settled into the new facility alongside the installation of new fencing. The Club continues to liaise closely with the Westport United Community Soccer Club Ltd who deserve huge praise for their work on providing the state of the art facility which of the envy of all other clubs who visit. Also a special thanks was made to Minister Michael Ring for his assistance and securing funding with the Sports Capital Grants during the year.
2018 saw the first full year of the implementation of the Club Underage Charter. It is widely recognised as an excellent basis for the development of sport for the young people in the club. The focus is on player development in a fun environment trying to achieve a balanced approach to competition with player development and enjoyment and if there were issues to be raised, the charter would be used to address them. Many thanks to Mick O'Brien and to Pat Holmes for their role as Underage Co-ordinators who have done a lot of work behind the scenes in the issues that they dealt with. To learn from the experience of the last year, it is important to to achieve a good balance through grading of players in each age group, that there is an adequate number of players for each squad and that no squad is overloaded with players, that there is a clear line of communication between the club, coaches and parents, the issue of burnout with key players in the younger age groups and how to manage that and that the lower graded teams have the same access to the best available practices as the flagship sides. To help attain the goals that are set, a Games and Coaching Committee is being set up with Frank Gillivan, Pat Foley, Michael McDonagh and Paula Cannon all agreeing to sit on this committee. Also it will be important to start in 2019 with the recruitment of volunteers to help out in coaching and that there are adequate and suitable coaches and this will be managed by the coaching and games committee. 2018 was a positive yer for coach education within the club with thanks to Joe Kelly, the Club's Coaching Education Officer and a number of coaches entering the FAI Coach Education Pathway with others moving up the coaching ladder and the club hosted the National D Licence and the System of Play Workshop. Joe Kelly went on to complete his National C licence.
The Football For All project was a great success and Mr. Staunton was pleased to announce that Paula Cannon, Mick McGeough and their team are continuing with their very popular sessions that attract kids with special needs from all over Mayo every Sunday morning. Many thanks to Scoil Pádraig fro the use of their facilities during the winter months. Westport United coaches will be on rota to help out with this important initiative that brings smile, joy and enjoyment to all kids involved and it's something that has deeply touched the parents of the special kids partaking.
2018 was a great year on the international front with the big story being Conor O'Malley's call up to the Republic of Ireland senior side by Martin O'Neill and Conor made a substitute appearance in the Scott Brown Testimonial match against Glasgow Celtic while he was on the bench away to France and at home to the USA. Daniel Kelly was captain of the National Emerging Talent side that took part in the Cherry Orchard Tournament while Conor Walsh, Adam Nugent, Conor Meaney and Conor Reynolds were all selected for the National Emerging Talent Programme in Dublin and on the girls side, Sorcha McCarney was also called up into the National Emerging Talent Programme and each footballer is wished every success. Also three of our underage were invited over to Portsmouth FC Academy, namely Adam Nugent, Conor Walsh and Daniel Kelly. All are wished well and the club will fully support them in their endeavours.
The club hosted some very high profile events over the last year with the Skechers/SFAI Regional Finals held over two weekends which went off spectacularly well. United Park hosted the Mayo News Westport United Boys Tournament and the Portwest Westport United Girls Tournament. Between both tournaments, there were 520 boys and girls partaking in excellently ran tournaments. The boys cups were in honour of Christy Moran and Oisín Kennedy while the girls were in honour of Jerry Murray and Mary Gannon. Many thanks to all who organised the tournaments and to both the Mayo News an Portwest for their sponsorship. The club hosted the well-established Duffy Memorial Cup and many thanks to Pat and Stephen Duffy for organising such a wonderful tournament. Following his international call up, Westport United hosted an evening with Conor O'Malley where the Peterborough United goalkeeper signed autographs for the kids and a presentation was made to Conor in front of his family. A banner was erected over Bridge Street and that was recognised by Peterborough United. Westport United hosted both the FAI Soccer Sisters and Summer Soccer Camps and while both were successful, the latter attracted 170 kids and what were very well organised camps that were professionally ran. Also, United Park hosted the Spar National Schools 5 a Side Westport and West Mayo area and it was a fantastic day for all the primary schools with lots of positive feedback. Finally the club hosted the EA Sports John Giles Foundation Regional Penalty Shootout Final and it was our very own Shane Brennan that went onto the Aviva Stadium in the national final and he was brilliant in coming second nationally. It was a great experience for Shane, who did the club proud.
Westport United's relationship with third parties is becoming more important and it has its challenges. The club is currently in discussions with Nike and liaising with the Westport Sports Complex on important issues affecting the club and many thanks to our members that are dealing with Nike and the Sports Park Committee. Recently, the club was in attendance at an FAI session on the football calendar, which is looking to incorporate all leagues into Summer Football. The key change is that all football competitions are likely to conclude by the end of October. During the summer, Westport United participated in a community event with the Tidy Towns and played its role in helping Westport achieving the Best Tidy Town in Ireland award. Thanks to all who turned out.
On the fundraising front, it was a good year with the club lotto with an upturn in revenue with no small thanks to Aiden King, Donal Fahy and Brendan McNally. Brian McNally and Martin Keane were busy as usual driving their sales and thanks to Peter Flynn, Evelyn Scahill and Michael McDonnell who pushed the fundraiser on the lotto sub-committee. Also the club ran its Last Man Standing and many thanks ti the organisers for that. The big event was the Duck Race, which was the brainchild of John Casey and it was a great day out during the Westival. Many thanks to everybody that helped out and to all who raised funds. We will be looking forward to the 2019 event and we will be asking for all teams to be involved. The downside was the fines incurred by the club and it's something that the club will be looking to redress in 2019.
On the communications side, the club has signed up with Clubify and 2019 will need to see the club maximising the value of Clubify in order to communicate clearly to all members and parents of the underage children. This will be challenging but should enhance the communication within the club. To meet the demands of an ever growing media presence in this digital age, the club is seeking an assistant PRO for underage matters to assist the experienced and award winning public relations officer, Kenneth Gannon.
For the accomplishments that were attained during 2018, Mr Staunton outlined the challenges ahead for 2019. The Club registration sub-committee will be chaired by Tia Horan and the club will be liaising with Clubify to streamline player registration for 2019. Meanwhile, a number of underage teams are in need of new kits and the club is working with Nike on this. Also, a sub committee has been established to generate revenue from pitchside advertising. If properly organised, this could be a significant fundraiser. Meanwhile, it was proposed that the club invests in a defibrilator for United Park, which would be a vital piece of equipment that could one day save a life. On the issue of child protection, Mick McGeough has agreed to stay on and continuing in his role and the club are grateful for this. There is no room for complacency in this and it's vital that Westport United keeps up with all the requirements and legislation of Child Protection policy. Meanwhile, the club thanked the Castlecourt Hotel for their ongoing sponsorship, now 15 years old. The club looks forward to our excellent relationship with our partners in 2019. Also, the club congratulated all the players that were called up to represent their county over the last year, including the U.12 Inter League Winners. The challenge ahead is to keep developing our talent that can play at a higher level. Finally, following the departure of John Russell, Pádraig Burns has taken on the role as interim manager and the process of appointing a new manager has already started with Stephen Duffy chairing the selection committee. The sub committee will report with a recommendation to the Westport United Committee who will then ratify the appointment. During the process, the captain and vice captain will be consulted for their views.
Mr. Staunton ended his address wishing everybody a very happy Christmas and a very successful 2019 season.
In her final report as secretary, Marie King outlined each team's performance and congratulated all the successful club sides. Following her report, there were presentations made to her from outgoing President, Peter Flynn and outgoing Chairman, Myles Staunton.
In his Treasurer's Report, Finian Gardner gave a detailed and comprehensive report, some of which was alluded on the Chairman's Address. While he praised a small group doing such a great job on the lotto, it needs more volunteers to maximise its sales on the ground and he also calls for a bigger emphasis on the sale of online lotto. Finian pointed out that the duck race was a huge success considering that it was organised at short notice but he also emphasised that the club needed more help to ensure that the fundraising activities reach their full potential.
Prior to the election of officers, Outgoing Vice Chairman paid tribute to Myles Staunton for his work over the last year while Kenneth Gannon also eulogised Aiden King.
A social media charter, drawn up by PRO, Kenneth Gannon was adopted while Brian Cusack spoke to congratulate the new committee in place, he pointed out that there are members who would be willing to give a hand without sitting on the committee in different tasks. Also tributes were paid to Frank Dolan for assisting the club at short notice and the general work that he has done.
The following were elected:
President: Aiden King
Vice Presidents: Peter Flynn, Frank Dolan, Tom Tarmey, Martin Keane, Willie Kelly
Chairman: Myles Staunton
Vice Chairman: Michael McDonnell and Stephen Duffy
Club Secretary: Michelle Chambers
Recording Secretary: Sharon Conway
Treasurer: Finian Gardner
Assistant Treasuer: Tom Tarmey
PRO: Kenneth Gannon
Underage PRO: Keelan Moran
Ladies PRO: Chris Nash
Assistant Ladies PRO: Aisling Heraty
Club Coach Education Officer: Joe Kelly
Club Child Protection Officer: Mike McGeough
Committee: Colm Keane, Adrian McGing, Aiden King, John Casey, Donal Fahy, Evelyn Scahill, Eamon Duffy, Jennie Kilroy, Sean Joyce