The Ratoath Harps AFC AGM took place on Thursday 30th September at 8pm via an on line portal due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. The following information is the Hon. Secretary, Hon. Treasuer and Chairmans reports accompanied by a list of key achievements from the past 12 months.
We look forward to a productive season ahead both on and off the playing field.
I would like to welcome everybody here to the 51st Annual General Meeting and my second as Honorary Secretary.
I would like to begin my report by extending my gratitude to the following members of the outgoing committee for whose work within and on behalf of Ratoath Harps has proved invaluable; Michael Connolly (Chairman), Sean Lawlor (Treasurer), Grainne Looney, Phil Doran, Olivia Cannon, Janice Smyth, Paul Larkin and Mark Fagan.
The 2020/21 season started with optimism as we came out of the first Covid 19 lockdown full of hope for a successful season ahead. Little did we know that we would be back in lockdown in December which would ultimately result in the cancellation of the season. We started the season with 26 NDSL teams and 4 MGL teams with approximately 450 children participating. Our Leinster Senior League section consisted of two senior teams and an U19 team with approximately 70 registered players across the three teams. Our Academy for players of 5 to 7 years of age was reinvigorated with numbers exceeding 40 over the two sessions every week.
Our 2020/2021 season while short would not have been possible if it were not for the hard work of the Covid 19 compliance officers led by Grainne Looney. Through their hard work and time they kept our members safe and free from any Covid outbreaks. Indeed, their continued hard work for our extended 2021/22 pre-season once the lock down was lifted in April was a credit to the club and very much appreciated by all our members.
While our 2020/21 season may have been cancelled and the club grounds closed there were still many things that needed doing. The bills still needed to be paid and the vast amount of work behind the scenes to keep a club like ours running still needed to be done week in week out. The committee, like the vast majority of the work force, had to get used to the new norms. Zoom and Team meetings became the order of the day.
Our Fundraising Committee (Gillian, Jane, Liz Tina & Sandra) supported by our Volunteers coordinator Janice Smith and well promoted by our PRO Olivia Cannon helped us keep the club afloat with several initiatives over the lockdown and indeed once we had reopened. They over saw the Golden Goal, Lockdown Raffle and Last man Standing. We also saw the welcome return of the Soccerthon which involved every team within the club with 12 hours of football and fun. The success of this event has enabled the club to give a Ratoath Harps training t-shirt to every member. Their efforts did not solely revolve around raising money for the club but also building and nurturing community spirit. The swap a gift for a selection box sponsored by Sweeney’s Centra Ratoath, saw our junior members exchanging a gift for a selection box. The gifts were presented to the Silver Stream Nursing Home in December. Both staff and residents were overwhelmed by the generosity of our junior members and were invited to play in the grounds of the nursing home once Covid restrictions allowed. This happened in June as the residents enjoyed the matches in glorious sunshine. For those of you fond of a good coffee or a simple snack, the club shop has become a members favorite regularly manned by our fundraising committee and volunteers.
We saw the reintroduction of our Hall of Fame in December with Noel Farrelly and Brian Conway being inducted for their many years of service to the club. December also saw our ex-Chairman and long-term servant of the club Damien Ward being bestowed with the honor of Honorary Vic President.
February saw leaking pipes cause major damage in the Codliss changing rooms. Mark Flood led a team of locals and friends of the club involved in the building industry bring the Codliss back to life and it is looking great for the season ahead. Many of these volunteers gave freely of their time.
April 26th finally saw the partial lifting of the lockdown and the return to limited training in pods of 15. Friendlies returned in June. The managers have done fantastic and should be praised for their commitment to their teams in training constantly since April all through the summer. During this time our Coaching Committee have provided invaluable support to the managers and more often than not, in conjunction our Covid Officer Grainne Looney, have provided cover under our obligations under the FAI Covid regulations. The Coaching Committee have also managed to hold a coaching the coaches’ session which was very well received by the participating managers. The plan is to hold more of these over the coming season.
In May we received a request for help from our neighbours Dunshaughlin FC for much needed help. Their own pitches had been closed for works and were not ready for pre-season and indeed potentially much of the season. In keeping with our community ethos, we were able to offer three of their senior teams a home while their own grounds were out of action. Neighbours look out for each other and Ratoath Harps are only too delighted to help our neighbour.
Also, in May we saw a major objective of the club this year being realized. The Clubs new website went live and is now a fantastic resource that will prove beneficial to all members. A big thank you to our PRO/Communication Officer Olivia Cannon who with the help of Des Mc Loughlin drove this project to completion. Olivia has also been behind the resurgence of our social media accounts which have become a major source of information for our members.
As always special word of thanks is due to the ground staff led by Darragh O Neill with regard to the upkeep and maintenance of the playing areas and training facilities. The grass still needed cutting even though it was not being played on during the lockdown. The great condition the pitches are in at the start of this season are a credit to all involved.
The logistics of allocating pitches, making sure referees are allocated and contacted, ensuring fixtures are fulfilled, and affiliated leagues are informed of results whether home or away are the responsibility of the individual league fixture secretaries. I would like to thank Grainne Looney as fixture secretary for the NDSL and MGL and Phil Doran as fixture secretary for our Leinster Senior League section for their time and effort given freely.
On behalf of Ratoath Harps a special word of thanks to all our Managers, Assistant Managers, Academy Coaches and volunteers for their time and hard work, which is all given up on a voluntary basis, without this involvement the success of our club could not be achieved and your contribution week in week out is invaluable.
As we look forward to the 2021/22 season ahead with 31 teams at junior level, 4 teams at senior level and over 50 players in the academy there is much work to do. However, we start the season ahead on the front foot, full of optimism and in the knowledge that the club is in good hands with the best volunteers in the country.
The coming season sees a new sponsor in the form of CHC who will be with us for four years. CHC have committed to help develop our community spirit and involvement and we look forward to working with them. We are also delighted to have Hannons SUPERVALU Ratoath as sponsors of our academy. Also, if any of you have passed the clubhouse recently you will have noticed our new AED which was sponsored by the long-term friend of the club Jimmy Maher. This will not only protect our members but also the wider community in the event of an emergency.
Ratoath Harps has a close connection to the community spanning more than 53 years. This is your club and if you want your say in the direction the club is taking then get involved on the various committees because like any organization, we require new blood to keep us alive and moving forward.
Finally, as many of our members have lost close family and friends over the course of the season, some Covid related, I would like to extend the clubs deepest sympathy to you and your family. We spare a special thought for our Club President, Noel Martin who sadly passed away this year.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Remember our club moto “Laidir Le Cheile” – stronger together.
Yours in Sport,
Ratoath Harps AFC
Treasurer report – 01 July 2020 to 30 June 2021
The club’s financial year runs in parallel with the traditional football playing season.
The accounts for the preceding year have been audited by HSM Ashbourne and signed off by the directors. Copies of the accounts are published on the Ratoath Harps website, free to view and download.
Main Points of Interest:
- Impact of COVID pandemic seen across all major revenue streams
- Depreciation (63k) remains in line with previous years
- Expenses dropped by 37k, driven by lower fundraising and legal costs.
- Fees halved in the period, as the pandemic bit hard into the community, and player base of the club. While the club position is “no pay no play”, we are always aware it is a community club, and aim to assist genuine cases of difficulty.
- The situation (for FY21/22) has now been largely retrieved, but funds to June 21 needed to be very carefully managed. We are at 100% compliance for Y/E Jun 2022.
- The planned major event of the year was cancelled due to COVID. Despite the pandemic, the fundraising team managed to raise an impressive 17k, e.g. Last Man Standing had ca 103 people signed up.
- FAI Camps – between camps and grants, the FAI contributed 35k to the club, and this was critical in helping keep the club going through the worst of the pandemic months.
- Pitch Rentals dropped by 1/3 to 7.6k.
- Soccerthon 26th June – really kick-started the return to football in the club, and generated ca 7k.
- Academy fees were well down, as was projected club shop income.
- Sports Management Grant was ca 7.5k
- CHC Sponsorship €15k over 4 years.
Revenue to 30 June overall was 116, 480, down 52k from 168,575 the previous year.
- Due to lack of opportunities, expenses on fundraising were zero. This emphasises just how well the committee did, in raising 17k.
- Legal fees fell from a club high in 2020 for 17k, to 0.
This to remain constant at 62.6k.
- Generally, costs tended to match prior year. Light & Heat up slightly by 4k to 14k, and other areas saw slight declines.
- Insurance helped cover cost of repairs to Codliss building.
CASH IN BANK as of 30 Aug 2021:
Financial Outlook for FYE June 22:
Non-Membership revenue is forecast at 46k, through Fundraising (Nov event), Pitch Hire, 2 x tournaments, and Tuck Shop.
Standard expenses are estimated at 69k, mainly electricity, loan repayments, and league fees.
Targeted Spend is estimated at 40k, mainly purchase of replacement tractor, and part-paydown of term loan. Other areas to be considered are upgrading some lighting areas, and equipment purchase/upgrades.
Targeted Capital Spend for coming year:
- Tractor – budget 15k
- Equipment (goals)
- Lighting rear pitch
- Car Park Lighting
- Astro Maintenance
Fees collection to Y/E June 2022 100% collected.
Fundraiser Event 12th Nov – expected net profit to be ca 25k
Ratoath Harps AFC 2020/2021.
Dear members and friends,
I once again welcome you to our 51st AGM. Hopefully this is the last of our AGM’s on-line and we can get back to seeing each other in person at our superb facilities soon.
No doubt you will have absorbed the information and many positives presented by our Honorary Secretary Kieran Kelly and our Honorary Treasurer Sean Lawlor. I am honoured to have worked with these gentlemen in the past year and have first-hand witnessed their professional approach to these extremely important roles in our club. They are excellent club officers and have been a great sounding board for me throughout the year.
I would again like to thank our extended main committee of Janice, Olivia, Grainne, Paul, Mark & Phil for their support, time and dedication shown towards your club. In difficult operating circumstances, they’ve delivered many successes for our membership. Their input at our monthly meetings in invaluable. I would like to again congratulate them on their achievements.
In our last AGM we set out a structure for the club. We’ve made great strides in rolling out this structure and within that framework have created empowerment for our main committee allowing them to succeed in their roles.
Beyond the officers and committee of the club, we have our sub-committee section we refer to as Laidir le Cheile. This extended committee are a superb support to our main committee and when called upon have been a fountain of knowledge to help us in our decision-making processes. I extend a warm thank you to the group and hope we can continue to count on your support in the year ahead. You are a key part of this club.
Between the officers, main committee, Laidir le Cheile plus the extended participants in the sub-committees such as the Fund Raising and Coaching Teams, we have over 23 volunteers with every one of them making a difference to your club every day.
When it comes to the business side of the club including governance and administration, your club is in the good hands of the groups mentioned above.
I would also like to give a special thanks to our community scheme placements, Brian Mulvany and Lauren Smyth for the works they do for our club and also a special mention to Susan Ward who continues to look after our book a pitch facility which brings a solid revenue flow to our club. Your contribution to our club is valued.
We are of course a football club and would not be one without our hard-working coaches. 31 teams and a successful academy would not be possible without the dedication of the coaching panel. They put in many hours on the pitch overseeing games and training whilst off the pitch putting in significant time in preparation and updating their coaching education skillset.
We must take into consideration the calculated risks put in by all the above in keeping the club and training ticking over during the pandemic. The easy solution would have been to close the club until the situation with pandemic eased however they all recognised the importance of football activity to the well-being and health of our membership. Football was a great release for our players during difficult times. Our volunteers stepped up to the plate and delivered.
We welcomed Ronan Croke on board as our Head of Senior football last year. The pandemic delayed him getting up and running however the senior section is now getting back in the groove with our highest number of teams in that section for many a year. The average age of the players in our senior section is in the low twenties and with the structures in place across the four teams, we are optimistic about the future of our senior football section. There’s a good team of people involved in the section working well together. Ronan is in the process of going for his UEFA A licence. We wish him the very best as he strives to enhance his coaching education.
Our MGL section is going from strength to strength with further initiatives coming down the line from our coaching team to enhance this section. One example will be the introduction of an all-girls academy.
Our NDSL section are looking forward to completing a season of football having been stop start for the past two years. Your club is one of the few to grow in the number of teams during the pandemic. We are delighted that two of our players, James Higgins and Dylan Phillips made the NDSL Kennedy Cup panel this year.
As flagged previously, we have come to the end of the first phase of our Capital Expenditure project. We were busy in tidying off the last payments and sign off on delivery of your best-in-class facilities in the past year.
Our focus for the coming period is the development of football, further football education of our coaches and ensuring our players play at an intensity and standard that best suits their current abilities.
There will be more coaching workshops and as soon as Government guidelines permit, regular coaches’ meetings where guidance, information and advice will be offered on all areas related of the on-field side of our club.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our teams the best in their competitive seasons.
The committees, coaches and volunteers associated with your club always do our best to deliver. We acknowledge we are not perfect however we have a continuous improvement mentality and will constantly strive for perfection.
Good volunteers are hard to come by and we have the difficult situation where not all decision made will be popular with all our members. We must take tough decisions from time to time in the greater interest of most of our members.
Bearing this in mind, we kindly request that any members with grievances reflect before approaching our volunteers with their specific issue. We will always endeavour to explain situations in a cordial fashion and again stress, we are not paid or getting any remunerations, this is free time we all give for your club. It doesn’t have to be confrontational.
There is a shortage of key personnel in the associations we need to run our club for example the NDSL, LSL, MGL and Referees. Again, without volunteers in those associations, we won’t have football. There’s a severe shortage of referees in Ireland. Many have retired due to abuse. I am asking our membership to be mindful of this and think twice before making comments to the referees. Thankfully most times, referees have a pleasant experience when they come to our club. Some of our members are referees and would like our club to extend good etiquette at our club and give them something to be proud of compared to some the weekly abuse they get when they oversee games in the Leinster region.
I would like to thank our new headline sponsors CHC Helicopters for their support of our club, our new academy sponsors Hannon’s SuperValu Ratoath and the many other sponsors who are directly and indirectly contributing to your club. It may be a set of socks and shorts for a team or a major headline sponsor, one thing for sure, they all count.
During the pandemic our income was significantly reduced yet our operating costs remained. The financial support from our local councillor Nick Killian, the FAI/Sports Ireland Covid support fund and the grace extended to us by our creditors most notably Glascairn Construction was warmly welcomed. Thank you.
The Club continues to achieve many great things. A serious effort has been made in the past year to promote the positives and demonstrate the importance of our role in the community. A large amount of work went into ensuring we have a solid brand image and this is backed up with the launch of our new website. The driving force behind this conscious effort is our PRO Olivia Cannon. We have many good stories to tell, it’s very beneficial when they are shared as it encourages positive conversations about our club.
We achieved quite a bit in the past year despite the pandemic. In the minutes from this meeting, we will attach a copy of our key achievements for you review at your leisure. Its an impressive list that ends with the arranging of our KR Live event planned for the 12th November. Please do your utmost to support this event.
We’ve been at pains to thank our volunteers during this AGM however I would like to give a shout out to the families of our volunteers. Your patience and understanding of the work your family member puts in is much appreciated. None of our can do our jobs without our families supporting us.
We look forward with great hope to and optimism to the year ahead for our membership participating in football activities and to all in their personal lives. We hope society has turned a corner and we strive on stronger together.
Ratoath Harps AFC.
Key achievements of note 2020/2021
- Number of teams in the club has increased to 31 teams.
- This includes our 4 teams in the senior section, our highest number in that category in many years.
- Strong Academy with over 65 kids enrolled.
- Girl’s football going from strength-to-strength. Four teams with the prospect of an all-girls academy in 2021.
- Increase in the number of players requesting to join our club.
- Harps are one of the few clubs to expand coming out of lock down.
- Assisted our neighbouring club Dunshaughlin AFC to continue playing due to delays in their ground development.
- Commenced serious of coaching workshops to assist our coaches with increased ideas and knowledge of the game.
- Increase in the number of coaches participating in formal FAI education courses with Head of Senior Football currently doing the UEFA A Licence with 5 other coaches having achieved or in the process of achieving their UEFA C Licence.
- Finances of the club remaining solid despite set back from Covid shutdown.
- Avoided having to refinance or park loan commitments. All loan requirements paid on time.
- Legacy payments due to contractors for completion of Capital Expenditure Program will be paid in the coming quarter.
- Strong records and fully audited accounts assisted the club in being awarded €19k grant from Sports Ireland out of the pot set aside by the Government to support grass roots clubs.
- 99% success rate in collection membership fees in 2021.
- Warm compliments from our auditors HSM Ashbourne for the concise the tidy set of books presented by the club.
- Mutual and cordial agreements between the club with our key creditors to park payments until we came out of lockdown.
- Established the club structure as set out in our last AGM.
- Fundraising continued despite the challenges from lock downs with Soccerthon, Last Man Standing and Lock Down Raffle three key standouts.
- Sourced a new lead sponsor for the club, CHC Helicopters, with a four-year deal.
- Sourced a new headline sponsor for our Academy, Hannons SuperValu Ratoath.
- Sold additional advertising signs around the grounds.
- Achieved a grant of €1k from Meath County Council via our local representative Nick Killian which will be spent on our new PA System.
- Former Harps Member, Jimmy Maher sponsored our new Club Defibrillator.
- New website designed and rolled out. Now live.
- New club electronic identity – @ratoathharps.club.
- Full overview of all Garda Vetting and Child Welfare.
- A strong committee sharing the workload.
- A much-welcomed extended committee in the “Laidir le Cheile” section offering services to help or a day-to-day basis and acting as a sound board using their extensive knowledge to help us in our decision making.
- Welcomed two new additions to our Hall of Fame – Noel Farrelly and Brian Conway.
- Awarded an Honorary Vice President position to Damien Ward in recognition of his many years of hard work for the club.
- Forged a new relationship with the local nursing home, Silver Streams, arising from our Christmas Parcel project that received tremendous membership support.
- Ran a great demonstration of football for the residents of Silver Streams. Warmly welcomed.
- Provided football activities as much as possible under Government Covid Guidelines in a safe and enjoyable environment.
- Hosted three FAI Summer Soccer School camps attended by 354 children during the summer.
- More buy in from our membership on events and projects mainly due to positive canvassing and communications.
- Supplying all players in the 31 teams with new RHAFC Adidas Training Jerseys in a spot project.
- Major fundraiser arranged for 12th November 2021 – KR Live event. Event is almost fully sold out at this stage.