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Profiling The Five Candidates In The GAA Presidential Election Race

This coming weekend at Croke Park will see the 40th president elected to the Gaelic Athletic Association. 

As John Horan prepares to make way after three years at the helm, five candidates have put themselves in the frame to lead the association from 2021-2024.

Of the five men hoping to step into the role as Uachtarán Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, each of the four provinces are represented plus a candidate who will look to become the first-ever “overseas” GAA President.

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Here is a quick run-down of the five men hoping to be elected to office this weekend.

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Larry McCarthy (New York)

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Bishopstown native Larry McCarthy was the chairperson of the New York Board from 2008 to 2011 and also served as their secretary and PRO at different stages. At the GAA Congress in 2018, he was elected as one of the GAA’s trustees while he was also part of the Strategic Review Committee during the same year under the stewardship of John Horan. Previously, he sat on the Towards 150 Committee under Aogán Ó Fearghail. He has served on the Central Council for three years and is currently a member of the GAA Finance Committee. 

McCarthy is a member of the Sligo Football Club in New York, has a PhD in sports management from Ohio State University and works as Associate Professor of Management at Seton Hall University.

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Jarlath Burns (Armagh) 

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Jarlath Burns enjoyed a 13-year senior inter-county career with Armagh spanning from 1987 to 1999. During his time, Burns won an Ulster medal as well as two McKenna Cup titles. Following his retirement, the 52-year-old served on the Central Council and was the first players’ representative on the Ard Comhairle. He was formerly the chairman of the Standing Committee on the Playing Rules and the 125th Anniversary Committee. He is currently his county’s delegate to the Ulster Council and a member of the Ulster GAA management committee. 

Burns is the principal of St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook while he has previously turned his hand to GAA punditry most notably with BBC Northern Ireland and TG4. 

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Jim Bolger (Carlow)

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The Hacketstown man is a member of Clonmore GAA and just finished up a term as Leinster GAA chairman. Before that, the Carlow native served as both vice-chairman and treasurer of the association. Bolger also served on the national infrastructure and safety committee and announced his intentions to run for GAA President in November. Bolger’s campaign will be based around three pillars – greater support structures for the volunteer-club, addressing the scale of the inter-county game and better risk management across all strands of the Association.

Bolger was an inter-county player at all levels, a former inter-county coach/selector at both underage and adult levels. He is a Chartered Safety Practitioner and Associate Lecturer by trade.

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Mick Rock (Roscommon)

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Elphin club man, Mick Rock, is the former President of the Connacht Council. A retired teacher, Rock currently works as a school placement supervisor for Hibernia College. He was involved with the Connacht Council for more than two decades serving as a delegate, PRO, vice-chairman and chairman. Rock was also a member of Central Council and the GAA Management Committee for three years. Rock was also appointed chairman of the National Club Committee in 2018 which was set-up by current president John Horan.

He is bidding to become the first president from Connacht since the late Joe McDonagh’s term ended in 2000.

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Jerry O’Sullivan (Cork)

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From one Rock to the father of another. Jerry O’Sullivan is the father of legendary Cork full-back Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan. The Cloyne club man recently stepped aside from his role as Munster Council chairman and was the first of the five candidates to throw his hat into the ring to become GAA President. O’Sullivan has worked his way up through the association serving as his home club’s chairman where he combined the role alongside his playing career for 16 years. From there he served as PRO and vice-chairman of the East Cork Board before taking over as chair for five years until 1997.

From there, he went on to serve Cork GAA in a variety of roles before chairing the county board for two years between 2009-2011, where he would then move on to the Munster council.

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 By Marisa Kennedy and Michael Corry – GAA Correspondents at Pundit Arena.

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