GAA Director General Páraic Duffy has announced that he will retire from his position on 31 March 2018. This will trigger the succession process for probably the most important single role within Irish sport.

Duffy has held the role since 2008, overseeing a dramatic period of change and development within the Association and always doing so with a sense of calm authority.

He had previously served as Headmaster of St McCartan’s College in his native Monaghan, the first to hold that role from outside the religious orders. He had also served as Chairman of the Monaghan County Board.

Speaking to Sport for Business earlier this year as part of our Leading Sport series with PwC, Duffy explained that when it comes to passion that is reserved for Monaghan GAA but he also maintains an active interest in all sports and is a fan of the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, Tottenham Hotspur and the Boston Red Sox.

Read More: Páraic Duffy Interview in Leading Sport Series

That wide range of sporting interests will have been key to what will hopefully be one of the major legacies he leaves behind, the pledging of the GAA to support the Irish bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

The New Championship formats he steered through in time for next year’s new look fixture list, the introduction of GAAGo to spread the wonder of Gaelic Games to a new and digitally savvy audience around the world will also rate as major achievements as will the now mature relationship that exists between the GAA and the Gaelic Players Association.

Duffy’s shoes will be big ones to fill but that was the same ten years ago when he himself stepped up to take on the role from Liam Mulvihill.

The GAA handles change well. It does not move at breakneck pace but it makes sure of its own complex constituency of interests and it always moves forwards. Looking at where it is today versus ten or twenty or more years ago you see the benefit of that approach in the strength it has within Irish society.

Read More: Duffy’s Latest Director General Report

The search will now begin for Duffy’s successor. Peter McKenna is the most senior member of the current management team who may be a candidate. John Costelloe has transformed the business and the structures of Dublin GAA to take it to where it is. Padraig O’Ceidigh is a member of the GAA board with a history of success in business. Sean Kelly is a former President with a political career in Europe now but who is GAA to the core.

There are many more who would fit the bill, who have dedicated more time to the GAA than most people would ever feel was possible. It will be the most important role for Aogán Ó Fearghail as he himself prepares to hand over the Presidential reigns to John Horan on the same timeline.

“I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve as Ard Stiúrthóir for the past ten years,” said Duffy in his statement announcing his stepping down yesterday.

“I would like to express my thanks to the four GAA Presidents with whom I have worked, Nickey Brennan, Christy Cooney, Liam Ó Néill and Aogán Ó Fearghail, to the members of Central Council, Management Committee, and other national committees, to our staff in Croke Park, and to officials, volunteers and staff at provincial, county and club levels for their constant support and encouragement.”

“I look forward to working with Uachtarán Aogán Ó Fearghail and Uachtarán-tofa John Horan on a range of projects over the next few months.”

On behalf of the GAA, the President, Aogán Ó Fearghail, sincerely thanked Páraic Duffy for his outstanding service and wished him and his wife Vera and family well for the future.

“Páraic Duffy’s vision, energy, integrity and fairness have been key to the Association’s growth over the past decade; his contribution has been immense. Tá muid fíor bhuíoch dó agus guíonn muid gach rath ar Pháraic sa todhchaí.”

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