A record 665 people booked for the above function at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, with many more asking for accommodation – people that we could not facilitate at their time of request. However, unfortunately, some of those who had booked failed to attend leaving us with spaces on the night that could have been filled.!!

INVITEES – We invite over 180 people each year, including county officials, VIPs, sponsors, team managers, provincial and national officials, award winners, winning captains, etc. Each county gets invitations to their chairman, secretary, PRO and senior team manager(s). No reply was received from the chairman, secretary or PRO of one county although the chairman later sent a letter explaining his absence. The PROs of two other counties failed to reply, as well as, two county secretaries.

Of our monthly Merit Award winners one didn’t reply and another rang up about a fortnight before the banquet – a month late – to say that he would be there. The situation was explained to him!

GUESTS - Among our guests were GAA President Sean Kelly, Bass MD Steve McAllister and his partner, Belleek Pottery MD John Maguire and his wife plus Paraic Duffy and his wife. It was Sean’s Kelly’s first time to attend and he was very impressed with the function. A presentation was made to Steve McAllister on his first appearance.

BALLOT – Beneficiaries from the ballot will be ‘Shine A Light’ (Helping Children with Cancer) and Monaghan Hospice. Some of our own members helped to collect the ballot money from the tables to speed up the process. The money collected amounted to e5,090 plus £580. The new arrangement re siting the prizes away from the stage and making people collect them on the spot and sign for them worked reasonably well but still one prize went missing. It had been left at the stage, without us knowing, and when we looked for it later it was gone.

TABLE GIFTS – The Ladies’ gifts sponsored by Belleek Pottery were again of the highest quality and much appreciated. The gents’ ties were also nice but we didn’t have enough of them. However, more are being obtained. First Trust are making a contribution to these ties As usual, some people will ‘try their hand’ at getting extra and one woman managed to obtain two ties when she shouldn’t even have got one.

MEAL – The meal has been praised with many guests speaking to various members of our association regarding the high quality. It took just 1hr 20mins to serve the meal, which was good timing. It will be difficult to follow this meal.

ANNUAL AWARDS – These seem to have been generally accepted but, personally, I would have reservations about a couple of them. I believe we don’t think enough about these during the season and jot down in our memories things that might be useful when we come to selecting the winners. Queries were raised as to why we dropped the Club Award but, generally, our explanations were accepted. A few clubs represented at the banquet imagined they were in the running for the award. A new award was introduced this year. It is for a Young Achiever of the Year and named after the late Colm McAnallen.

ENTERTAINMENT – Many complaints have been received about the loudness of James Peake Xperience although their music is good. They refuse to turn down the sound

VIDEO – Once again special thanks is due to Margaret O’Hare and Mark Sidebottom for producing the Highlights of the Year video. A difficult job well done. Brian McVeigh’s video highlights of the night were also excellent.

ORGANISATION – On the day quite a few members helped with banquet work and all must be thanked. Prior to that a few, such as John Campbell and Orla Bannon, did take on necessary jobs that helped to ease the overall burden but, I’m sure, no-one will mind if I single out Jane Tohill and Matt Fitzpatrick for special mention. Our secretary and assistant secretary were always ready to do whatever was needed and Jane regularly rang me asking if there was anything else she could help with. As usual, Adrian Logan did a great job as Fear a Tigh.

THANKS – A special word of thanks must be given to Brian Houston (Bass/Tennent’s) for the tremendous amount of work and support he puts into the banquet. His office was a welcoming place whenever one called with his secretary Eileen Gargan plus Maura from Steve McAllister’s office and Yvonne always ready, willing and able to lend a hand. Without this support the function would not be a success.