The GAA Annual Congress takes place in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry this weekend and perhaps the key moment will be the succession of Jarlath Burns to become the 41st President of the Association.

He will replace Larry McCarthy who will take some well deserved time out before returning to the United States and resuming his career as an academic.

A member of the Silverbridge GAA Club in Armagh, Burns has served his club, county and province with distinction on and off the field.

He was his club’s secretary at the time of his election and served the club in a multitude of roles over several decades.

On the field, he played with Armagh for 13 seasons and was midfield and captain when they won the Ulster senior football title in 1999 – their first Anglo Celt Cup since 1982.

Prior to that, he was a part of the St Mary’s team which captured the Sigerson Cup in 1989. During his school years he attended St Colman’s College in Newry, a place where Association founder Michael Cusack had taught prior to the establishment of the GAA.

As an administrator at national level, he served as chair of the inaugural Players’ Committee in 2000 and was chair of the GAA’s 125th anniversary committee in 2009 and Scór Naisiúnta.

He has served as Armagh’s Central Council delegate as well as sitting on the GAA’s Medical and Scientific Committee and Pitch Presentation group, and the Standing Committee on Playing Rules.

In 2006 he managed the Ireland Women’s International Rules team that defeated Australia.

Passionate about the Irish language and a fluent speaker, he has been a co-commentator on TG4 for many years.

Burns is a secondary school teacher and as Principal of St Paul’s in Bessbrook in Armagh has overseen its growth to a student population of 1,800.

He is the first former senior inter-county player to be Uachtarán CLG since Kilkenny’s Nickey Brennan (2006-2009) and is the first official from a club in the Six Counties to lead the Association since Fermanagh’s Peter Quinn (1991-1994).

Having been runner-up to Larry McCarthy three years earlier, Burns was elected on the first count at the Uachtarán Tofa election in Croke Park held at GAA Congress in 2023, claiming 158 of the 277 votes available.

Born in 1968 in a family of eight children, he is married to Suzanne, and they have five children and one grandchild.

He is the second Armagh man to be GAA President after Alf Murray held the position from 1964-1967. Burns’s term of office will run until February 2027.

Most of the motions before congress are technical in nature but two that stand out are that all cards issued in normal time will carry through into extra time, removing the ability of a player to return or his place to be filled in added time; and for the All Ireland Minor Football and Hurling Finals to return to their spot as the curtain raiser for the Senior Finals.


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