By Paul O’Donovan
Patrick Doherty has been synonymous with Westmeath GAA. He first shot to prominence in an administrative role in Westmeath when he was Westmeath GAA PRO for seven years from mid 2000 to 2007, a role he fulfilled with great diligence and efficiency.
Pat, who is originally from Delvin, but now lives in The Downs, then took up a role at GAA headquarters in Croke Park, Dublin, where he worked in a Public Relations capacity in March 2008. Pat worked in the Communications Department of the GAA until Christmas 2008 before taking up a role in Games Administration. Pat’s work related to GAA fixtures, referees and discipline. Then at the end of 2008 the referee’s co-ordinator retired and he was asked to take up that role, so from September 2008 until July of 2019 Pat was the National Match Officials manager, working in conjunction with referees and their training and on the various rules of the game. On big match days in Croke Park Pat could often be seen sitting in the front row of the Hogan Stand as the intense action unfolded in front of his eyes.
“It was the best seat in the house as you were so close to the action, yet it was the worst seat in the house as you were too close and couldn’t see the overall match, but it was certainly enjoyable and great to be there, especially on the big match occasions. It was a challenging, but enjoyable role. It was all about working with the referees,” said Pat.
NEW POSITION IN WESTMEATH
These days Pat has a different seat. It is behind his desk in his newly appointed office in Cusack Park. So, why has Pat swapped a seat in Croke Park for a seat in Cusack Park?
“An opportunity arose in Westmeath GAA for a new vacancy as Head of Operations of Westmeath GAA. I was interested in it and applied for it and I was delighted to get it and take it on. There are many advantages in getting this new job. One of them, on a personal level was the travelling. I was travelling to Dublin and it was taking in total four hours a day, so that has made a massive difference to me.
The role itself is many and varied. Basically it involves dealing with finance, liaising with team managers, and liaising with team co-ordinators and working with the clubs. I have a good relationship with the clubs, so you could say I’m acting as a conduit between the county committee and the clubs.
I also work with the CCC on fixtures, and the scheduling of games throughout the calendar for their master fixture plans. So, overall the job involves many roles incorporating all aspects of Westmeath GAA.
I took over the position at the end of July 2019 and I’m certainly enjoying it so far. There is always something new every day and there are different challenges to be faced every day.
IMPORTANCE OF FIXTURES AND FINANCE
Delving a little more in depth into his new role Pat explains: “First and foremost the GAA is about games and fixtures, and the players that play the games. The provision of games to our players is critical and I must say the management of the fixtures in Westmeath has been very good to date. There is room for a small bit of maneuvering, but overall it has been very good.
Unfortunately, everything is dependent on finance. Therefore the financial aspect of the role is extremely important. So from the smallest item to the largest there is the impact of money. That was evident from the figures at Convention.
Our county teams are fantastic, there are our best elite players and we are delighted to have them playing in Division 1 of the hurling league and Division 2 of the football league this coming year, but the restriction all the time is finance.
Therefore, a very important part of my role is how additional finance can be generated, how we can control spending but also the need to generate additional finance, both commercial finance and individual finance.
Let us take for example Club Iarmhí. They are an outstanding group of people who have all done outstanding work for Westmeath GAA over the years. Everyone is familiar with the €100 draw that they run every year with good prizes. That draw has essentially been run without any significant input from the clubs. We need to get a greater involvement from the clubs in major fundraisers like that.
When people speak of other counties having greater populations and greater financial resources, I don’t dwell on that. I always look at what we have and what we can achieve. We need to push on and look at our opportunities. Dublin have worked extremely hard at what they have achieved. Other counties are working hard, too, and we must work hard and even harder to continue to compete.