THE Louth County Board Convention 2010 passed without any real incident. The flow and fluidity of the meeting showed the solidarity of Louth Gaels as of late. Buoyed by Louth's rally in the Leinster Championship, the bond that exists between the 42 clubs in Louth's bond was once again strengthened after the Leinster Final controversy.
In a lengthy speech by Chairman Padraic O'Connor, one that fell just short of the hour mark, the Chairman gave a detailed and comprehensive report of Louth's standing, both on and off the pitch.
Targets were set, not just for the newly appointed officers and those who retained their seats, but for supporters, delegates, players and most importantly the clubs.
O'Connor left no stone unturned in his pitch, an indication of the level of work that is being done by the board. Yes, he admitted that not everything is perfect, but the drive to get there is.
In possibly one of the most pleasing sights, the financial reports were met by applause and compliments by delegates, seeing as though the county board turned over a profit this year. They are looking to do the same next year, with a 10% cut in expenditure cited as a optimistic goal.
Darver's completion was seen as a success and O'Connor stated that the main goal of 2011 is the County Grounds. The board have met the O'Raghallaigh's who are also keen to progress on the matter.
O'Connor stated that two proposals, one for DkIT and one for the O'Raghallaigh's ground will lie with the county committee where both options will be considered. A budgeted projection will be drawn up with a detailed financial plan, which will be put to clubs in February. O'Connor hopes to finalise discussions on it in 2011, outlining it as his number one priority.
Speaking on it, he said: "I can assure you it will not be my fault or the fault of the executive if we do not improve our county grounds. The fault will lie with others. We must make a determined effort in the county to succeed.
"We need people of a certain type to make this work. If we want it badly enough, we will do what we have to do to make this work.
"To do this, we need every player who has pulled on a jersey, every club, every small company in Louth, every medium sized company and the captains of industry to stand up and support us. We need our politicians to support us and every manager in the county to stand up and support this.
"When we have achieved our goal of a suitable county grounds, then we can all stand up together as one team and shout from the top of our voices that we are Louth and we are proud. This will be a very emotional day for us all and I do intend to be there to share that feeling to share it with you all."
But other priorities for the Chairman in 2011 included success on the pitch.
He said: ""The senior team has to push on for Division Two of the National League and hopefully win the Delaney Cup/Leinster Championship and perhaps proceed further in the All-Ireland.
"We want to retain the Leinster Junior Championship and possibly win the All-Ireland. That the Under-21s to reach a Leinster Final and the hurlers to continue with their success.
"We hope that minors begin to make a serious impact in the Leinster Championship. We want to increase the numbers of coaching staff in the county and appoint a games manager.
"We want to review our development squad structures to ensure we are maximising our potential. We want to improve the standard and frequency of coaching in schools. We want to improve the standard of club football and hurling in the county.
"We want to decide on the location of and development of our county grounds. We want to stabilise our finances and ensure we have a strict budget in place to ensure financial stability for the coming years and ensure we have the financial means to bring our county grounds to an acceptable standard."
O'Connor also asked Louth Gaels to reach for the stars again next year after it was snatched away from the hands of them this year in the Leinster Final.
"Next year, we must be sure to reach higher and be more determined to achieve and grab those stars and to reach higher again in the following years."
"That day, what a day. The colour, the fans, the emotion. It seemed at last we were going to make modern history by winning the Delaney Cup for the first time in 50 years.
"Ten minutes to go, I can paint a picture for you. I remember the feeling of isolation even though I was sitting with all these lads (from the County Board). I remember there was three minutes of injury time and thinking it cannot go on much longer, but then of a sudden, this terrible happening.
"The sense of isolation and being completely on your own, despite the fact you were in a crowd of 40,000 Louth people was astounding. Most of us could not speak after that.
"What was meant to be a joyous occasion was one of shock, disbelief, regret, anger and hurt.
"But I believe we must now use those emotions next year, the hurt to ensure that we achieve the holy grail, the Delaney Cup and take it back to Louth and be crowned the undisputed Leinster champions in 2011.
"Until that happens, I don't believe we will be in a position to exercise the ghosts from that day of July 11, 2010."