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THE SMARTPLY AMATEUR FOOTBALL LEAGUE 54TH ANNUAL REPORT 2007-2008

Sitting down to write my 39th Annual Report for the League having just come back from two weeks holiday taken during the final stages of the various Cup and League competitions, is a true reflection of the tributes I wrote in last seasons report on the calibre of the rest of my fellow Honorary Officers and Executive Committee. "Perceptions sometimes project a certain image which tend to overlook the background work carried out by the other long serving Voluntary Officers".

It is many years since I was able to include in my annual report a list of the winners of the various Leagues and Cup Competitions. The organising of the SmartPly Amateur Cup; the Matt O'Leary Cup; Harding Cup and Loftus Cups are the responsibility of Jim Morley; The Maher Saturday Cup is the responsibility of Peter Connolly. The three Seniors Cup Competitions are organised by Paul Lenehan and Dermot Murphy. The League divisional managers are Jim Morley, Peter Connolly, Richie Dunne, Paul Lenehan & Dermot Murphy. The financial aspect of the League is the responsibility of Philip Gorman and Michael Lynch. The Registrar is Bob Donnelly and Assistant Registrar is Ron O'Shaughnessy. The Referee Development Honorary Officer is John Whelan. He took on the responsibility of allocating referees to all matches together with dealing with the numerous day to day problems which arise regarding referees. At this point I also must mention our long serving referee assessors Iggy Martin and Ron Marsh. The executive is made up of the above named, together with Noel Daly, Joe Smyth and Sharon Brown, who volunteered her service during the season and was co-opted on to the executive with her initial responsibility of taking minutes of meetings. It is now a great team effort and it realises the ambition I have tried to achieve in my years as your honorary secretary. It is with pride I express my thanks for their efforts and record the winners and runner-up of each Division and Cup competition and compliment all the other teams who provided the opposition and wish them a more successful time in the future.

SmartPly Premier Div. Sun.: Kilmount Boys R/u Ardmore Cel. SmartPly Div 2 Sun. Donnycarney Villa R/u Wyteleaf Utd; SmartPly Div. 3 Sun: Vianney Boys R/u FC Town; SmartPly Premier Div. Sat.: Rivermeade FC R/u St. Itas; SmartPly Div. 1 Sat: Kilmore Cel. R/u Skerries Bohs; SmartPly Div. 2 Sat. Portrane Ath R/u Shelbourne FC.

SmartPly Seniors Div.1 Sun. St Columbans Boys R/u Ballsbridge. SmartPly Seniors Div. 2 Sun.; Kilmore Celtic R/u Whites FC; SmartPly Seniors Division 1 Sat: Rivermount FC R/u Raheny Utd.; SmartPly Seniors Division 1a Sat. Peamount Utd R/u Greenhills FC/Swords Celtic; SmartPly Seniors Division 2 Sat. Glenville R/u John Hayes Utd; SmartPly Seniors Div. 2a Sat St Colmcilles R/u St Brendans Hospital FC.

The SmartPly Amateur Cup; Ardmore Cel, R/u Kilmore Cel; Matt O'Leary Cup; Ramble Inn Cel. R/u FC Blanch; Maher Cup Kilmore Cel R/u Rivermeade; Harding Cup: Grange Woodbine R/u Fenstanton; Loftus Cup: Wyteleaf Utd R/u Vianney Boys. Peter Clifford Seniors Cup; Rivermount 3; R/u CIE Ranch; Grimes Seniors Cup Sun: St Kevins Boys R/u Irishtown FC; Jim Byrne Seniors Cup Sat.: Raheny United R/u Rivermount.

Some may question why I have started this report in this way. My reason is that life is short and seven weeks ago I sat by the bedside of John Griffith, the General Secretary of the Leinster Football Association who had been told of his terminal illness. One of his concerns was his plans for next season for the Leinster Football Association. Sadly, he has gone to his eternal reward and we are left to carry on the role of legislating for football. To me it is important to recognise that the volunteers mentioned above help to provide football seven days a week and carry on with their personal lives with the many trials and tribulations. Their work must never be taken for granted.

The Oscar Traynor Trophy: Referring back to last year's report I was unable to record the winning of the Oscar Traynor Trophy for the fifth time. For those who have visited our administration building there is a picture on the left hand wall presented by Dermot Clarke and the Evening Herald. It is entitled "Simply the Best" it encapsulates everything about the performance of the team and the excellent management staff ably led by Gerry Davis. Peter Connolly was the administrator and looked after their every requirement and did an excellent job. Success comes at a price and last year most of our Oscar Traynor matches were played at home, even the final. The audited expenses last year were €18,000 and for winning it we received €1800 from the FAI Junior Council. This year the fixtures were reversed and we reached the knock-out stages which resulted in having to travel for a week-end in Kerry. As you will read in the audited accounts for the Oscar Traynor Squad our expenses exceeded €36,000 with a contribution of €750 from the FAI Junior Council. So what price success! Having written that, it proves our clubs, players and management staff have the ability to compete and succeed.

The success of the representative team exposed several aspects of the League administration. It centered on the weaknesses of some clubs who failed to comply with the deadlines for paying league fees and fines. The fees are set a year in advance and the membership of the league fully understands their liabilities as they enrol in the League. Fines are variable and the FIFA and FAI advice is that no one should play football until fines are paid. So, in February 2008, using a football term it was necessary to "Put the Boot in" to get compliance. Hence the new rules for next season.

The Sponsorship by SmartPly: On Friday 7th September 2007 Waterford based SmartPly, a subsidiary of Coillte, the forestry and forest products company announced that it was the new sole, official sponsor of the Amateur Football League for the 2007/08 season and beyond. The sponsorship includes naming rights for the AFL and a range of branding opportunities across the activities of the League. It was the result of an initiative started by Paul Lenehan.

On the 15th January 2008 they published the following news item entitled "Smartply Builders Providers Football Tournament a huge success" "Last Saturday, nearly 200 players and supporters braved a wet January afternoon at the Oscar Traynor Coaching and Development Centre in Dublin, to be part of the inaugural SmartPly Builders Providers 5-a-side Football Championship and Challenge Cup (12th January).

After 15 years of sponsorship from Guinness, in 2007 the Irish Amateur Football League (AFL) found themselves in need of a new partner and Waterford-based SmartPly OSB responded to the call. As part of Coillte Panel Products, along with sister-company Medite, SmartPly understands the importance of the support of local communities for local business and as part of their wider promotional campaign and the development of stronger branding, SmartPly signed a three-year contract with the AFL to encourage football at a grass-roots level as well as raising the profile and awareness of the wood-based panel products industry in Ireland." They would like to propose the same time for next year. (10th January 2009). We thank all those who worked to put this deal in place.

Attendance at Management and Executive meetings:

The management meeting in the four months before Christmas are important to allow club representatives express their concerns and get advice from the Divisional Managers, the Referees Development Officer and the other Honorary Officers. Executive meetings have been in the main dedicated to dealing with referee reports and listening to the views of players sent off and their club representatives. The new rules and procedure for the workings of the executive committee for next season are necessary and we hope they are accepted in the best interests of removing dissent on and off the field of play. As we get to the New Year 2009 we can plan for meetings for the remainder of the season.

The Oscar Traynor Coaching & Development Centre.

The Centre is managed on behalf of the Founding Fathers (Trustees) of the Amateur Football League (Paul Lenehan, James Morley, Philip Gorman and Noel Kennelly) and the North Dublin Schoolboys/girls League (Liam Farrell, Jack Irwin, Frank Molloy and Bob Smith) by the Oscar Traynor Coaching and Development Centre Ltd. The Board of Directors are Eamon Byrne (Chairman) Eamon Farrell, Christopher Jameson, Thomas Taylor, Joseph Clarke and Mark Barnes. We are fortunate to have these men with proven commercial and professional ability and expertise. The Manager of the Centre is Declan Smith who just happens to be the younger son of our President Jack Smith. In the coming months discussions will continue to try realize the aspirations contained in the submission made to Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council in October 1979 for the development of the Centre. At the end of 1977-78 season, we finished the year with a surplus of £563. The total expenditure came to £7265 and the assets of the League stood at £12,457 with liabilities at £5,641. On the 27th September 1979 the clubs gave the Hon. Officers their full support for a Coaching and Development Centre and to seek a site. The rest is history. The reason I'm relating back in history is to endeavour to generate support from the present membership to become engaged in similar fund raising activities which saw our Development Fund at 30th Sept 1981 stand at £27, 299 and at 20th November 1981 it stood at £34,264. That is the volume of fund raising now necessary to continue with the development of the Centre and the League, its administration, fielding representative teams at both levels in which we provide football.

Our Short Passes in the Herald and our Website:

Those who are familiar with reading Dermot Clarke's column every Monday will have gathered he has a long standing involvement with our League, having played on the AFL Youths Representative team and kicked the odd ball with Malahide Utd. He brings a balance to the happening within the League. On my return from holidays I read the 5th May 2008 issue of the Evening Herald and appreciated his article on the late John Griffith and his previous tribute to John, who was a friend to me and many more in Football. Our Web site continues to receive acclaim from all over the world. It is the work of Kevin Byrne the Honorary Secretary of St Marks Athletic, who were one of the founder teams of the League way back in 1954. Kevin plays each week in our Seniors Saturday division. The site plays an important role in communicating with Clubs so it is necessary the League has the correct email for each club Honorary Secretary.

During the season our Chairman Paul had a remarkable recovery from a life threatening illness. To see him in action at the Cup Final is a great tribute to his involvement in the League. He played for Virginians in the first Matt O'Leary Trophy Final (1966-67) then played for Glasnevin and went on to manage them to win the Amateur Cup, then became co-manager of the Oscar Traynor Team which reached the final Kilkenny. On the 31st May 1973 he was elected Assistant Hon. Secretary of the League. Not a bad performance!

Having written all of the above I leave my personal thanks, which I tried to cover in second paragraph to be said at the AGM. Thanks for the honour of being your Honorary Secretary and for all the assistance I receive.

For and on behalf of the Smartply Amateur Football League.

Noel Kennelly, Honorary Secretary. 26th May 2008