Counties face funding crisis as backers fall by the wayside
On a day when Dublin GAA signed a deal with Aer Lingus to be their official airline carrier, it was revealed that up to eight county football teams currently have no main sponsor with the new season just over one month away.
The victorious Dublin football squad flew out on their Florida/Cayman Islands holiday yesterday, the reward for their All-Ireland triumph in September.
But behind them they left an increasingly desolate inter-county sponsorship landscape, as counties continue to fail to come up with replacements for departed sponsors.
Canal Court Hotel ended their link with Down last week, with last year's All-Ireland runners-up joining Sligo, Roscommon, Carlow, Louth and Westmeath in the hunt for new backers.
There is speculation that Meath may be looking for a new sponsor as their current agreement with Comer Group draws to a close, while Galway football will wear the Cancer Care West logo on their shirts again in 2012, a charity-team model that may prove popular as the economic squeeze continues.
Some of the eight counties mentioned will replace their sponsors, but will have to accept much lower revenue for any new deals signed. A majority of counties have admitted that they have had to take reductions of up to 50pc over the last four years and if the current gaps weren't filled, the counties could collectively suffer to the tune of €500,000.
In contrast Dublin are in the middle of a fundraising drive that could well yield €250,000. Manager Pat Gilroy has pledged that any money raised in excess of the cost of the team holiday will be channelled back to the county board or set aside for team preparations in 2012.
Accounts for Dublin County Board due to be released next week are expected to show that it cost in the region of €2m to fund the preparation of all their county teams, the highest ever bill recorded by one county.