Westport United

Founded 1911

Co. Mayo


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The Annual General Meeting of Westport United took place in United Park on Friday evening last and it was very well attended.

The meeting created history when, for the first time in the club's 113 year history, a female Vice Chairperson was appointed and Claire Reilly, former Club Secretary was elected to the position, and in an age of gender equality, this is a massive statement from the club in recognising the value that female members bring to Westport United both on and off the pitch and opens up opportunities in the future for more females to climb the club ladder in the areas of playing, coaching, volunteering and club administration, and that has to be welcomed by all strands of this great club.

The meeting was opened with a minute's silence for all the deceased club members over the previous year with special remembrance for Ray King, Sean Joyce, Owen Brennan and former FAI President, Pat Quigley, followed by the adoption of the minutes of the previous AGM.

In his final Chairperson's Address, Stephen Duffy opened by looking back on the achievements of 2023 by saying '2023 has again been an extremely busy and successful season for both our youth and senior teams on the football pitch. The boys and girls teams from U12 to U16 have won numerous cups, shields and league titles. Playing an attractive brand of football that has delighted the crowds who have been lucky enough to be in attendance.' before going through a list of team achievements throughout the year, while adding 'While the leagues for the Junior Teams didn’t yield the silverware. The same cannot be said for the Cup Competitions. The Super League team reached both the Westaro Cup Final and Calor Gas Super League Final. Ending up winning the Westaro and unfortunately losing the Calor Gas. They were defeated. They were defeated in Galway in the Connacht Cup, but are on another great run in the FAI Junior Cup, where they have qualified for the last 32 where they will play Evergreen from Kilkenny at United Park on January 21st. The Junior B Team is also enjoying a great cup run in the Connacht Cup where they will play Castlerea Celtic in February at United Park.' Mr Duffy then turned onto some of the individual highlights of the year, saying 'With all our teams doing so well on the pitch it’s great to see that so many of our boys, girls and adults have been recognised for these achievements in being selected to represent mayo at various age groups at national level, in some cases being picked for trials at the AUL Complex in Dublin, but more remarkable is one player being picked to represent his country in an international tournament. That extraordinary feat happened to our very own Super League Captain Gary Cunningham, when he was chosen for the Republic of Ireland Amateur Squad to compete in the UEFA Regions Cup in Spain last June. Gary went on to play in all 3 games in the group stage. Drawing 1 and losing 2, with one of them against the eventual winners from Spain.

It’s a remarkable achievement for Gary and his family and I’d like him to know how proud we all are of him at Westport United. It just goes to show to all our players, if you train hard enough and apply yourself in the right way. Anything is possible.

I would also like to congratulate Dylan O’Malley who was picked for the FAI ETB squad who played the Rep. of Ireland U-19’s last July.

Some of our former players are also achieving great things at national level:

Conor Walsh played 5 games for Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland Premier Division this season. He was also named in one Republic of Ireland U-19 squad this season.

Conor Reynolds who’s also plying his trade with Sligo Rovers had a great season with their U19 team, which resulted in him making the bench for a number of the Sligo Rovers games in the league of Ireland Premier Division. He was then picked for the Republic of Ireland U-18 team in a friendly against Belgium back in November. Matching his uncle Joe Mulroy, who was also capped back in 1985.

Another former player who had a terrific season is Ruairi Keating, who was up near the top of the scoring charts all season with Cork City and who deservedly was named in the team of the season in the League of Ireland Premier Division. Next season he will be togging out for St. Patricks Athletic after Corks City’s relegation to Division 1.

Continued good luck to all players in the future!'

Mr Duffy moved onto some of the main events over the last year, and opened up on the successful Adam Mulchrone Memorial Match held last January by saying, 'On January 28th last. We had the very first Adam Mulchrone Memorial match in honour of this great player who passed away so tragically in January 2019. As a mark of respect to Adam and how highly we all regarded him at Westport United we named Pitch 1 in his honour and a plaque now resides on the path to the entrance of the pitch. To mark the occasion we had a very entertaining game between Sligo Rovers and Galway United, who were in pre season and I would like to thank their managers, John Russell and John Caulfield for kindly agreeing to our request. I know John Russell the Sligo Rovers manager was very happy to help out, in that he trained Adam in his short spell in charge of our Super League Team and held Adam in very high esteem.

Another great reason for marking the occasion was that all monies raised on the day were donated to ACT Meningitis and I’m delighted to say that we raised over €5,000 for this very worthwhile cause, which unfortunately we all know a bit more about today. I’d like to thank all of Adams family, his mother and father Mary and Paul, His sister Amy and his brother Colin, his many uncles, aunts and cousins who were so helpful on the day and in the build up to the occasion. To Siobhan, Sarah and Sophie from ACT Meningitis who were in attendance on the day and for all their literature which made us all aware of the symptoms to look out for regarding meningitis. To Padraig Burns for helping facilitate the game, To Referee Damien McGrath for kindly donating his match fee to Act Meningitis. To Frank Dolan for the photos, Joe Corcoran from the Castlecourt for donating all the sandwiches. Our President Willie Kelly and Ann Conway for looking after the teas and coffees, Donal Fahy for manning the gate and our grounds man Brian Coffey for having the pitch looking so well. To all our supporters who attended on the day and kindly donated at the gate and finally to Sligo Rovers and Galway United for making it a memorable day and I am delighted to announce that both teams have agreed to play again on January 29th in Adams memory.' Turning to the Annual Santa Dash, Mr Duffy said, 'Our Annual Santa Dash continues to run every December and I would like to thank all our teams and individuals for their participation and fundraising. When all monies were counted last January, we had raised €12,300 for the late great Martin Keane’s Winter Food and Fuel Appeal. Which I know would definitely have brought a tear or two to his eyes, this year’s fundraising was agreed by the committee to be given to the SVP and we are still gathering money.'

Moving onto other coaching activities, Mr. Duffy said, 'The Academy which cares for boys and girls aged 6-9years continues to go from strength to strength. Every Thursday evening from 5pm to 6.30pm from mid April-end of Oct. United Park was a hive of excitement with all the children. I would like to thank all the coaches for their professionalism and care. To all parents for all their patience and encouragement and to Denis Healy for overseeing the Academy this year and his predecessor Gerry Needham who have put in great foundations for the Academy going forward and finally to all the boys and girls who turned up so enthusiastically every Thursday come hail, rain, sleet or snow.' while adding 'Our FFA continues to run on Sunday mornings from 11am-12pm in United Park under the tutelage of Helen McGeough, Ruth Hoban and Philip McKiernan along with a number of helpers. I would like to encourage our other coaches in the club to get involved helping out when they can. It’s a really enjoyable hour with the children and it’s great to see them interacting with each other and picking up football skills. Last June Maree Oranmore’s FFA club were invited to United Park and by all accounts everyone had a great day. Here’s hoping this will be the start of new friendships for our FFA team.' Mr Duffy then turned his attention to camps and blitzes, saying 'This past year we had not 2 but 3 summer camps for the children at United Park. Along with our own camp and the FAI camp we had a new Sligo Rovers Camp. All 3 camps were fully subscribed.' adding 'We also had the annual Duffy Cup for U11 Boys and the Portwest Cup for U10, U12 and U14 Girls. Which were all great successes.' Mr Duffy then spoke about other activities that the club was involved in, with a trip to Tallaght Stadium saying, 'On December 1st the club ran a coach to Tallaght Stadium in Dublin for the Ladies International Qualifier against Hungary. 40 of our U14 and U16 girls attended the match along with some of the coaches and some parents and by all accounts the girls had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed watching their heroines win the match 1-0.' and spoke about the Leinster U19 Rugby team at United Park, saying 'Back in August the club got a request from Leinster Rugby Club about the possibility of their U19 team using United Park for a light training session from before they played Connacht the following day. It was really interesting getting the opportunity to watch a professional outfit up close, in all their preparation, video analysis, breakdown of the training session and separate training drills for both the backs and the forwards. I’m glad to report that they were very complimentary on our Facilities and hospitality.'

Mr Duffy then looked ahead and spoke of what he is looking forward to in the club in the year ahead but also reminded that the committee members were all volunteers and deserve respect for the work they do to promote and foster football in the club. Mr Duffy then went on to thank everyone for their support during his four years in the hotseat. Mr Duffy concluded his address by saying 'My race has now run. It’s been a steep learning curve for me. There have been a few lows but an amazing amount of highs. We got through covid at the start and I think you will agree that the club is going from strength to strength. So now it’s time, to pass the baton on to the incoming chairman Richard Grady.

I want to wish Richie and his new committee the very best of luck in the future, I hope that every member and supporter of our great club can get behind them and help out wherever possible.

Westport United is revered up and down the country.

Long may it last!'

The Secretary's Report was jointly read by Victoria Large and Kenneth Gannon and they thanked everyone for their efforts over the last year and gave a comprehensive report on all the club teams that partook in the activities of the club and how every team performed throughout the season. A special mention was given to the schools that won national football titles over the last year. The reports were concluded with the following quote, "It was busy, eventful and fulfilling year. 2024 will bring new opportunities and challenges and as a club, we will rise to embrace opportunities and meet challenges to achieve our goals the Westport United way."

The outgoing Treasurer, Michelle O'Toole gave a very detailed Treasurer's Report. It was recognised that the club has grown so much that it was getting more expensive to manage the day to day running costs and that everyone needs to take on board that to meet the financial challenges of the running expenses of the club, any and all communication on club fundraisers, including the lotto must be relayed to all members and every team has to help out in fundraising activities. It was pointed out that Westport United is like a business with 700 members with a lot of football teams, which result in a lot of day to day expenses and the club's growth has seen expenses keep getting bigger and bigger. The feedback from the floor was that when the club runs fundraisers during the year, the club needs everyone onboard with them, while the weekly LOTTO is essential for the running of the club, and teams are asked to go out 3 or 4 times a year around the pubs in town. The appeal from the floor to the club managers was please, please, please emphasise to the parents how important the LOTTO is to the club and its existence.

In the Development Committee Report, Michael Horan and Peter Flynn both gave an update on the Phase II Development with the work currently done on underground ducting and associated works, with the current works due to finish by the end of March. To help ensure that the project is finished, the club needs more members to sign up on the Patron Scheme and there needs to be a greater push on the online lotto sales.

Ahead of the opening of the new astroturf pitch and cages, there is a business plan being put in place to manage bookings and operate the floodlights on an energy efficient model to cater the needs of what activity is taking place.

There were two motions submitted; the first motion read "The existing section 8.18 of our Constitution states

Any member of the Management Committee who is absent from three consecutive meetings of the Management Committee without an acceptable notice of absence shall be deemed to have resigned their position. The motion read to delete 'without an acceptable notice of absence' and also include at end 'can only be reinstated on approval of the committee'. The new 8.18 paragraph would then read 'Any member of the Management Committee who is absent from three consecutive meetings of the Management Committee shall be deemed to have resigned their position and can only be reinstated on approval of the committee'." The motion was thoroughly discussed and was adopted.

The second motion read "Westport United resolves to set up an U19 and senior women's team, with all the necessary support in place for this to happen". It was pointed out that the outgoing committee were hopeful last year of entering a team in to the ladies football league but after consulting with some of the coaches they felt it wasn’t feasible at the time. At the moment that the club is having great success in the leagues and cups with the U12, U14, U16 and U17 girl’s teams and while all the young boys in our club can one day dream of playing for our Junior Super League Team. It was highlighted about a great tradition in women's football in the town going back nearly 50 years, the number of national titles attained at school and club level, not forgetting the Girls All Ireland Champions of 1984, the first ever national football title ever to come to Westport. There was a strong appeal from the floor, saying 'Wouldn’t it be great if all the girls in our club could have the same aspirations of one day playing for a Westport United Ladies Football Team!

So please if there are any ladies out there looking to get involved or you know of any ladies that might be interested in playing, please contact any member of the committee.' Following that passionate discussion, the motion was adopted.

There were tributes to Stephen Duffy and Club President, Willie Kelly from the floor with appreciation shown to the outgoing committee. Also, a token of appreciation was made to Michelle O'Toole and Victoria Large, who were both stepping down.

A special birthday was recognised as Brian Cusack was honoured with a birthday cake being presented.

Election of Club Management Committee: President: Seamus Grady, Vice Presidents: Willie Kelly, Peter Flynn Snr, Frank Dolan, Tom Tarmey, Sean McKenna Chairperson: Richard Grady Vice Chairperson: Claire Reilly Junior Secretary: Kenneth Gannon Underage Secretary: Michelle Seetoh Browne Treasurer: Paul Kelly Assistant Treasurer: Finian Gardner PRO: Kenneth Gannon Committee: Gerry Needham, Kevin Kelly, Daryl O'Toole, Joe Fahy, Donal Fahy, Padraig Burns.

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