Donegal GAA chairman Mick McGrath
Donegal County Chairman Mick McGrath told delegates to Monday night's County Convention that it had been a "year of challenge, a year of sadness and a year of great change."
The Aodh Ruadh clubman, who was elected unopposed, told on-line delegates that "we might never go back to what we knew as normal in the future, but that challenge we will face together within Donegal and also outside the GAA."
On Donegal senior footballers' season and shock defeat to Cavan in the Ulster final, he said it was a "bitter pill to swallow".
"Our senior team retained their Division One status and reached another Ulster final.
"Wearing the favourites' tag did not suit them as their earlier wins over Tyrone and Armagh ended as they lost out to an eager Cavan side.
"Injuries did not help on the week of the Ulster final and nobody will need to tell Declan Bonner and all associated with the squad that something went wrong.
"They will know that themselves.
"They don't become a bad team overnight and I am sure that this will be rectified going forward.
"It is a bitter pill to swallow but we must move on positively and learn from it."
The chairman said he recognised and applauded the "great attitude, committment and the care shown by our front line workers in the HSE, the Covid workers and especially the GAA members who willingly and unselfishly took on the many different tasks in assisting our elderly and our vulnerable in our club areas when it was needed."
He paid particular tribute to Donegal team doctor, Dr Kevin Moran for his "guidance to me personally for Covid regulations."
Mr McGrath said the Covid crisis showed just how "strong the GAA network of communications are in Donegal.
"We are strong because the GAA is an organisation that is networking in all of the community."
He called for a minuite's silence for the 3,000 plus people who have died on our island since mid March.
Mr McGrath added that the County Board faced an ever changing road map due to Covid regulations.
"The movement of government levels were very difficult and very frustrating and hard to accept especially around non-attendance at our games but we accepted the decisions because we accept the dangers involved."
He added: "We do hope that the work on these vaccines will assist us in this battle going forward in 2021.
"Donegal County Board launched a three year strategic plan in 2018 and we conclude it today.
"In that plan we looked at six issues; club development, financial planning, administration, our physical infrastructure, games development and coaching and a voice for our youth.
"We must review this now to see where we are and to have the progress indicators.
"Let us not allow Covid-19 to become a reason for not fulfilling this but a reason for a learning curve of what is needed in a new plan at the end of 2021."
He paid tribute to both the CCC and the Hearings; Committees for their efficiency.
Mr McGrath said particapation in Scor competitions in the county had reached an all time high.
"This is most definitely associated with Fergus McGee's position who concludes his role today.
"I recognise the high level he brought to this role and he will not be lost to the Assocation in Donegal.
The chairman warmly congratulated the hurling committee with promotion in the NHL and winning the Nickey Rackard Cup in Croke Park.
"Well done to Mickey McCann, his team and his backroom team and well done to Setanta on winning the Donegal SHC and Carndonagh on winning the JHC.
"And a special mention to Dungloe on reaching the Junior hurling final.
"This is a step forward for all the developemnt of hurling in the past number of years and it does not go un-noticed.
"In 2021 we will have a strategic 3-5 year plan for hurling in our county."
He added: "Our minor football team under Luke Barrett has had a stop start season but I am delighted to see that they are playing in the Ulster Championship rather than not having an opportunity at all.
"The U-20 footballers had competitive action and reached an Ulster final, losing out to a very good Tyrone team and thanks to Shaun Paul Barrett, his team and backroom team."
Mr McGrath said the stop start season was very hard to deal with.
He paid a warm tribute to long serving Ulster Council delegate PJ McGowan who was not seeking any position.
Mr McGrath thanked PJ and his family for their long contribution to the GAA in the county.
He also paid tribute to John McEniff, the very efficient PRO.
The chairman said the PRO had introduced streaming and brought the games into the kitchens and homes of the supporters.
"His detailed work and willingness to improve is well recognised and he brought new standards and skills and he is a great organisation person in delivering a great service.
Mr McGrath thanked all the media for their coverage over the years.
"On November 1 we signed up to two new three year partnerships.
"Borrisoleigh Bottling Water are our new hydration partners for the next three years; O'Neill's Sportswear have also signed a new three year deal.
"Both of these are welcome going forward."
He added: "Now that we have the proper facilities in place in our new GAA Centre in Convoy we must now attract the qualified personnel to assist in our development of our county.
"Covid will have a large say in our plans for 2021 but we must still plan."
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