Chris go­ing strong at the top ta­ble!

Bray People - - SPORT -

WICK­LOW GAA Sec­re­tary Chris O’Con­nor would love to see more women in­volved not only on the County Board, but in ev­ery club in the county. And there’s a sim­ple rea­son for that de­sire. The Blesing­ton woman be­lieves that women bring dif­fer­ent ideas to the ta­ble. And dif­fer­ent can be good, dif­fer­ent can be very, very good.

Cur­rently there are four women on the Wick­low County Ex­ec­u­tive out of a to­tal of 14 mem­bers. Chris O’Con­nor is county sec­re­tary, Brid­get Kenny is as­sis­tant sec­re­tary and chair­per­son of the CCC, Frances Stephenson is the chil­dren’s of­fi­cer and Kathryn Noone is Ir­ish and cul­tural of­fi­cer. Rel­a­tively speak­ing that is a rea­son­able num­ber, but Chris O’Con­nor would gladly wel­come more women into the ranks of the county ex­ec­u­tive.

For Chris, the road to her cur­rent po­si­tion be­gan at just 18 years of age when she was en­cour­aged on to the Bless­ing­ton GAA Club com­mit­tee by her fa­ther and un­cle, fill­ing the role of un­der-21 rep at the time. Through the years the com­pe­tent club ad­min­is­tra­tor has per­formed var­i­ous roles and filled many chairs at the top ta­ble of her beloved club, serv­ing 15 years as sec­re­tary, chair­per­son for a year, PRO for a time as well as work­ing tire­lessly to create and pro­mote ladies foot­ball in the club, to­gether with hus­band Paddy O’Con­nor and brother-in-laws Michael O’Con­nor and the sadly de­parted John O’Con­nor.

For a brief spell, Chris played with the new team but re­calls be­ing “bru­tal at it” and so, to the even­tual good for­tune of the en­tire county, she turned her at­ten­tions to ad­min and along with the ef­forts of many other peo­ple, turned the fledg­ling ladies club into the thriv­ing body it is to­day.

Chris took over the role of club sec­re­tary from none other than for­mer GAA Pres­i­dent Jack Booth­man when he was un­veiled as Pres­i­dent elect in 1993. If ever there were big boots to fill surely Chris O’Con­nor was faced with one of the big­gest pairs ever. But fill them she did.

It was Dunlavin’s Andy O’Brien who made the call to in­quire if Chris O’Con­nor would be in­ter­ested in join­ing the County Board.

“Andy rang me to see what my in­ten­tions were (in terms of her ad­min­is­tra­tive plans). Tom Byrne had just fin­ished as as­si­tant sec­re­tary. I was on the CCC at the time, but I jumped at the chance. I was hugely hon­oured to have been asked. There’s lots of young lands and young girls out there who en­joy the hon­our of rep­re­sent­ing their county and since I was bru­tal at foot­ball, I was hon­oured to be able to rep­re­sent my county in that way.

“They asked me af­ter I had been pre­sented with the Club Per­son of the Year award as well, so I couldn’t re­ally refuse even if I had wanted to,” she joked.

Chris O’Con­nor is now a vi­tal part of county man­age­ment, hav­ing taken over from Michael Mur­phy upon his re­tire­ment and when the full-time county sec­re­tary role con­cluded.

The am­bi­tious and hard-work­ing Chris has a def­i­nite plan for her fu­ture within Wick­low GAA. She has ev­ery in­ten­tion of as­cend­ing to the role of county chair­per­son, via the seat of as­sis­tant chair­per­son first, and her pro­fes­sional and ca­pa­ble de­meanour at County Board meet­ings and her rep­u­ta­tion within Le­in­ster GAA cir­cles sug­gest that there will be lit­tle to stand in her way.

In re­la­tion to why there is a lower num­ber of women or per­haps a slower up­take of women to po­si­tions on the County Board or in clubs, Chris O’Con­nor be­lieves that some women might see mak­ing such a move as daunt­ing but she whole­heart­edly re­veals that it is any­thing but.

“In fair­ness to all the lads I have worked with over the years they have al­ways shown me noth­ing but re­spect.

“There are more women get­ting in­volved, I think it’s hap­pen­ing. And I hope it keeps hap­pen­ing. Women bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to the ta­ble, dif­fer­ent ideas,” she added.

Chris is keen to of­fer her deep­est grat­i­tude to all the men and women of the clubs of Wick­low who have helped her and con­tinue to help her in any way in her role of county sec­re­tary.

She also of­fers a spe­cial work of thanks to Martin Cole­man who was chair­per­son dur­ing her ap­point­ment as county sec­re­tary and who showed her huge sup­port dur­ing that time.

Women in GAA Clubs:

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