After 16 years at the heart of the administration of her local GAA club, Ann McKenna, is stepping back from one of the top officer positions.
For the past 16 years, Ann has been secretary of the Donegal Gaeltacht Lár club, Gleann Fhinne.
A combination of the demands of the main administration in the busy club and a desire to move on and hand over to a new generation is behind her decision.
The Glenfin club fields teams in men’s and ladies football, adult and underage and also has a handball club.
“Things have got very technical between the internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media,” Ann told the Democrat.
“Nobody wants to talk anymore. Everything has to be done nowadays on the internet and it is very hard to keep up with it,” added Ann, who had served as the club Oifigeach na Gaeilge, before taking on the secretary role at the club’s 2000 annual general meeting.
“You need to be available and have access to the internet literally 24/7, in case you miss something important.
“I work full-time as a home help. I leave the house every morning at 8 am and I’m not home again most evenings until after 5 pm.
“And in most of that time, I don’t have access to emails and I’m always afraid that I would miss something important.”
However, the pace of technical advancement and the modern day demands are not the sole reason that Ann has closed her laptop.
After 16 years taking the notes and following up on insurance claims and looking after the general administrative affairs of the club, Ann felt it was the right time to move on.
“I have been secretary since 2000, and I feel it is time to make way and give young blood a chance.
“Jackie O’Meara has been my assistant secretary for the last few years and I have her well trained and she is ready to take over.
“I have also agreed to stay on as assistant secretary to support her in her first year in the job. Jackie is ready to take over and I have no doubt she will do a good job.
“I became secretary at the 2000 AGM after I was proposed by Jim Quinn.
“I have enjoyed the last 16 years and I have made many good friends both in the club and from other clubs. I have also worked with a number of brilliant chairmen down the years like Liam Ward, Patsy McDermott and the current chairman, Paddy Doherty, who is a nephew of mine.”
At a time when gender quotas of up to 30% in sporting bodies is being proposed, Ann, who is all in favour of women getting involved in the GAA, says she sees gender quotas as necessary.
“I’m all for women getting involved in the GAA and we do have quite a few, both in clubs and at county board level around the country.
“We have a female secretary in Donegal, Aideen Gillen. Aideen is our third female county secretary in the last 20 years.
“Tyrone elected a lady chairperson, the first in the country, last year and we have a number of other female county secretaries and other female officers around the country.
“From my own experience I have never encountered sexism or bias because I was a woman. If anything the contrary would be very much the case. I have always been treated with respect and I have never felt unwanted because I was a woman.”
In her 16 years at the top table, Ann has experienced many highs and a few lows. On the playing fields, the 2001 winning of the Donegal and Ulster Club Intermediate Championship were definitely up there as triumphs to remember.
As was the club’s first Donegal Ladies Senior Championship title in 2011.
There were many good days, too, following underage teams, boys and girls. And there was success off the field with redevelopment of Pairc Taobhoige, the club grounds and the construction of the new clubrooms and dressing rooms.
“Of all that happened in the 16 years, the official opening by Micheál O’Muircheartaigh, in 2010, was the highlight. It was a very proud day for the club and all the other officers that had gone before us,” Ann said
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