I have the honour to present this, my Report for the Golden Jubilee Year of the Association.
Nine Senior Football, six Senior Hurling, thirty-three Junior Football, and sixteen Junior Hurling teams took park in our adult competitions during the year. This was an increase of twelve teams on the total number that participated in 1933.
The Midland Feis Committee provided Cups for competition in Senior Football and Senior Hurling and these were played for on the League system–the new competitions taking the place of the old Senior Leagues. The Feis Cup matches were all keely contested and the Finals, played at the Midland Feis in Cusack Park, on 27th May, were thrilling and spectacular. Rosemount, in Football, and Castlepollard, in Hurling, are first winners of the Feis Cups. The Junior Football and Hurling Leagues were also well contested and resulted n victories for Tubberclair and Walderstown respectively.
The Senior Football Championship was a splendid competition and the football at all stages reached a high standard. The final was a fitting conclusion to the qualifying round and results in a narrow win for Rosemount over Coralstown.
The Senior Hurling Championship was robbed of its glamour by the elimination of Clonkill on an objection after they had defeated Ardnurcher, and in the Final Castletown-Geoghegan, last year’s Junior Champions, were no match for a strong Castlepollard team.
The Junior Football Championship Semi-Finals and Final and the Junior Hurling Championship Final have yet to be played. The dates of these matches will be fixed after the Convention.
The Leinster Championship draws did not favour Westmeath and our Senior Football, Junior Football and Junior Hurling teams were eliminated in the first round. It is consoling, however, to know that our conquerors in all grades did exceptionally well in the Championships. Dublin, in Senior Football, and Kildare in Junior Hurling, were unbeaten right up to the All-Ireland Finals, and in Junior Football Kildare reached the Leinster Final undefeated. In the Leinster Hurling League our representatives gave a splendid account of themselves and were only narrowly beaten by the League winners, Meath, in the Semi-Final. Our footballers, after convincing wins over Leitrim, Offaly and Longford, have attained a strong position in the National Football League.
The County Minor Football team was denied an opportunity to competing in the Provincial Championships. This was unfortunate as we had a splendid young team and had gone to much trouble and expense in training it.
The district organisation authorised by the last Convention was put into effect during the year and is now working smoothly and efficiently. District Boards were established in Athlone, Streamstown, Tyrrellspass, Ballynacargy, Coralstown, Castlepollar, Collinstown, and Mullingar. I attended the inaugural meetings of all the Boards and was impressed by the enthusiasm and obvious earnestness of all the Club representatives present. A word of praise is due to the District Secretaries for the able manner in which they carried out their many duties and for their great assistance in the County Committee. A slight alteration in the locations of district headquarters will probably be necessary in the coming year, but this will be decided by the affiliations.
Much time and energy were wasted by innumerable difficulties arising out of our peculiar border situation. The last Congress decided, contrary to the wishes of the Gaels in Athlone, to divide Athlone Town in two and place that portion west of the Shannon in Roscommon for G.A.A. purposes. The decision will come into effect on 1st January next when further difficulties are likely to arise. The County Committee has been informed that all the active and the great majority of the old Gaels in the area about to be taken from us, oppose any division of Athlone on the ground that such a division is detrimental to the best interests of the Gaelic Athletic Association in the town. Our Convention will now have to face the situation seriously and decide whether the best interests of the Association in Westmeath will be served by a rigid adherence to the decision of the last Congress, or by re-opening the whole question at next Congress. One of our border problems has been amicably settled during the past couple of months by the kindness of Offaly County Committee in ceding to Westmeath for all G.A.A. purposes that portion of Offaly adjoining Horseleap, in which a number of our players and adminstrators reside.
Recent events are very likely to ensure a comprehensive discussion on the Kinnegad border problem. It is certainly desirable that the situation in Kinnegad should be explained, as many members of the Association, both in Meath and Westmeath, are unacquainted with the facts.
Cusack Park is now recognised as the finest athletic arena outside Croke Park, and the Central Council has just fixed the first big inter-Provincial of 1935–Leinster v. Connacht, in Senior Football–for it. Several other big matches will be played in Cusack Park next year, including the inaugural matches for the magnificent Mullingar Town Trophy. The incoming County Committee must, therefore, complete the sodding and drainage and lay the cinder foundations of the new cycle track early in January. These works will cost a considerable sum, but the expenditure is an absolute necessity. The attendances at the big matches are increasing enormously and it is our duty to provide every reasonable accommodation and convenience for the players and spectators. Only by doing so we can we hope to secure the big matches to which our ideal situation and our unrivalled transported facilities entitle us.
During the year the County Committee received a contribution of £60 from the Westmeath Men’s Association of New York, per their esteemed Secretary, Mr. Christopher Murray (formerly of Raharney). This generous action, which we deeply appreciate, shows that in our efforts to provide a fitting memorial in Westmeath to the founder of the Gaelic Association, we have the active support of every Westmeath man and woman at home and abroad. It is our intention to purchase with this subscription a suitable hurling trophy which will commemorate the generosity of the Westmeath Men’s Association in New York and enable us to develop and encourage our oldest National game.
As will be seen from the Revenue Account we sustained a dead loss of £100 7s. 8d. on inter-County competitions. The Leinster Hurling League resulted in a loss of £49 8s 4. and the National Football League in a loss of £39 3s. 4d. Tournament matches the training of the County Minor Football Team also caused a loss of £19 14s. Only in the Leinster Championships did income exceed expenditure and in this case the gain was £1 18s 0d. The question of participation in future National and Leinster Leagues requires the attention of the Convention.
The gate receipts in our own competitions reached the record sum of £352 1s. 2d. This is an indication, if one were needed, of the upward trend of the Association in the County and of the increasing public support for it.
I am glad to be able to state that for the third year in succession we have had a profit on the ordinary working of the County Committee, and this notwithstanding the heavy loss on inter-County Competitions. It is now established that, with judicious management, a substantial profit can be made every year, and I see no reason why the bank overdraft on Cusack Park can not easily be paid off once capital expenditure on the Park has been completed.
The prospects for the future are distinctly bright and encouraging, and I am confident that 1935 will be a wonderful year not only for the Association as a whole, but for Westmeath. With harmony, efficiency, and common sense at our meetings, and a live-wire Committee to direct our affairs, no obstacle can impede our progress in our own Golden Jubilee Year.
– Peadar Mac Eoghain
7th December, 1934