Winds of change in Offaly as Duignan takes county board chair
There was a sea change at the helm of Offaly GAA on Tuesday evening as former All-Ireland-winning hurler Michael Duignan assumed the chair of Offaly county board.
The RTE pundit beat incumbent Tommy Byrne by 77 votes to 62 at convention with Brian Gavin and Dervill Dolan also elected to positions as part of the high-powered group formed to enact change at the top of Offaly GAA.
Dolan was elected treasurer with fellow Clara man Gavin chosen to take a Leinster Council delegate position. Colm Cummins was the one to miss out of the four men in the group as he lost out to Rhode's James Murphy by 70 votes to 68 for the position of vice-chairperson.
The greatest loss of the night was the en masse resignation of sitting county board members Niall Gleeson, Brian Flynn, Mary Dunne and John Moloney once Tommy Byrne had been defeated in the first vote of the night for chairman.
It leaves a hole in the board with a number of positions left vacant by these departures.
Michael Duignan has vowed to unite Offaly GAA following the night of high-drama during which loyalty lines were drawn on both sides. Cummins, Dolan and Gavin would too have refused to contest their respective positions had Duignan lost out to Byrne in the chairman vote.
It is possible for Colm Cummins to contest one of the vacant positions in January. The vacant positions are Assistant Secretary, Assistant Treasurer, PRO and Cultural and Children Officer.
In a short statement, the former Edenderry GAA chairman said: "I’m disappointed by the result last night but delighted for the lads on getting over the line. I’m committed to helping the new Management Committee in any way I can and hope to get involved at some level, however, I haven’t given any thought to any of the vacant positions as yet. I’ll reflect on it in the coming days."
These vacated positions may well strengthen Duignan's vision in time but no doubt those outgoing are a loss to the board and the former county star has a big job on is hands to mend the divisions.