Some of the biggest and most successful GAA counties ran six-figure deficits in 2012, an analysis of audited accounts have shown.
The accounts presented to recent end-of-year conventions of 28 counties were made available and sourced by the Irish Independent and show a slight improvement in the overall picture for county boards.
Seven of the 28 counties analysed ran deficits compared to 11 of the 32 in 2011.
Among those who turned themselves around were Westmeath, Wexford, Kildare, Roscommon, Sligo and Antrim.
But worryingly, Tipperary and Waterford remain plunged in year-to-year deficits that they are struggling to deal with, while Kerry and Meath joined them in recording deficits well in excess of €100,000.
The GAA's finance department are constantly monitoring the financial situation of all the counties and those on any critical list can change from year to year. A presentation to the GAA's Management Committee last week gave the most recent picture of the climate throughout the country and while it was reported to have improved ever so slightly, there is still much concern that up to five counties are really struggling.
They include some of the Association's biggest hitters like Waterford and Tipperary, who continue to run up deficits, while Armagh and Sligo are also understood to be under the spotlight.
Tipperary have outlined a number of measures to deal with a spiralling deficit that has reached €650,000 over the last four years. An auditor only last week described their situation as "precarious."
A worrying development is the fall of Kerry and Meath into significant deficit on 2012 figures, with Meath dropping €230,000 on their €50,000 surplus in 2011 as gate receipts and much higher maintenance costs got them in trouble, while Kerry's gate receipts fell considerably as a deficit of €157,438 was recorded.
While there is concern in Croke Park about these counties it is not immediate as historically they have a good track record in managing their finances.
In 2011 Westmeath, Kildare, Tipperary, Waterford, Sligo, Roscommon, Antrim, Armagh, Wexford, Limerick, Fermanagh and Carlow all ran deficits on day-to-day spending.
But only three of those counties (Armagh's accounts were not available) remain in the red on day-to-day spending, with Waterford and Tipperary now the most serious worry for Croke Park.
The recent presentation to management noted a fall in local gate receipts in a majority of counties, which is impacting on income.
Once again the most pristine set of books have been presented by Cork, Tyrone and Kilkenny, who occupied the top three places on the 2011 surplus table.
But, significantly, both Cork and Tyrone, who recorded profits close to €500,000 on all activity in 2011 have dropped significantly in 2012, Cork down from €492,309 to €384,653, Tyrone slightly less as they fell from €471,240 to €388,575. This puts them top of the financial table of counties for 2012.
Kilkenny went to an All-Ireland hurling final replay and a league hurling final in a busy year, but still managed to shave off more than €7,000 in team expenses, despite their season lasting an extra three weeks.
So far, Kildare are the only county to be publicly 'bailed out,' with financial help to support day-to-day running costs coming close to €700,000 in the last year. But with direct input from Croke Park, they are now considered to be off the 'critical list.'
The GAA's finance department still consider the amounts being spent on inter-county team preparations to be far too high and see it as the main area of concern.
In 2011 some €19m was spent in this area and estimates suggest that this has only slightly fallen over the last 12 months after coming down from a peak of over €22m four years ago.
Carlow ran the smallest deficit of the 11 counties who were in the red in 2011, so this is a significant nudge in the right direction.
A decent surplus, but their spend on inter-county preparation was still the highest by some distance, in excess of €1.6m, despite not being in an All-Ireland football final and their early exit in the hurling championship.
A surplus for the first time in six years is a small step to recovery. They face the strictest budgetary conditions of any county, with direct input from Croke Park's finance department over almost every significant financial transaction.
Income: €3,671,942 (includes ticket account)
Once again they are almost Germanic in their approach to budgetary matters. Progress to an All-Ireland hurling final replay and a league final only served to improve their surplus by almost €70,000.
Their surplus has dropped by almost €80,000, with their O'Moore Park account costing them €42,000.
Not as bright a picture as 2011, but they have still managed to stay above water for another year.
An alarming change, with gate receipts down by €90,000 and expenditure rising by some €185,000. Overall, a €230,000 swing in the wrong direction from a €50,000 surplus recorded in 2011.
Hammered by depreciation of €210,982, Offaly were otherwise cost-positive with income beating expenditure by over €100,000.
From one of the smallest pools Longford once again record one of the impressive sets of results for any board. A surplus rise of almost €200,000 recorded on 2011.
The most dramatic transformation as they left the historical issues of 2011, when they had to write off a loan to the hurling board and sponsorship money owed. Topped the deficit list in 2011 with €248,712, but are top of the class as far as the Croke Park finance department are concerned for 2012.
Have sorted themselves out. Twelve months ago they were in a mess, but gate receipts were up €64,000.
Another county to stay just above water with a slight surplus on 2012 activities.
Team expenses took a significant €110,000 jump in 2012 with the U-21 hurlers winning an All-Ireland title and the senior footballers reaching the last 12.
With the Pairc Ui Chaoimh redevelopment imminent Cork will continue to need a surplus like this well into the future. Healthy as always.
Team expenses came down slightly as the senior team didn't travel as far, but overall income was down 11pc while gate receipts fell by 22 pc.
On day-to-day running costs, just about broke even, but depreciation and a loan to the Gaelic Grounds pushed them into deficit.
One of the trouble spots concerning Croke Park. Stringent efforts are being made to bring financial matters under control. Among the measures decided last week were levies on local match passes and banning jersey swapping after games. In four years they have run up a deficit of €650,000.
Another trouble spot that is in the process of cutting costs and re-financing. Secretary Tim O'Keeffe reported to convention that they "stood still" in 2012.
Accounts were not available at the time of going to press.
Team expenses dropped below €300,000 again, so the books were easily balanced.
Have a huge capital debt on MacHale Park but they are comfortably repaying it and generated significant improvement in fundraising in 2012.
A big turnaround from a €50,000-plus deficit in 2011. Travel expenses remain high – 13 of the 20 players used against Sligo last weekend are based outside the county.
A small surplus, but one of the counties that Croke Park have concerns about after the lowest gate receipts take in 2012.
Income: €958,132 (£831467)
Expenditure: €814,250 (£706,606)
Have turned around a €46,000 deficit built up in 2011.
Accounts could not be obtained, but Armagh are one of the counties known to be of concern to Croke Park.
Didn't enjoy the healthy surplus of other years but still comfortable.
Did not make their accounts available.
Team expenses rose to €894,487, up by €312,000 from 2011, but they still returned a healthy surplus thanks to fundraising efforts around the All-Ireland final.
Did not make their accounts available.
Income: €766,388 (£665,000)
Expenditure: €864,347 (£750,000)
Alarm bells signalled at the county convention, where delegates expressed concern on the amount of money being spent on the county team, around €514,000 (£442,000).
Managed to comfortably balance their books.
Income: €1,409,393 (£1,223,126)
Expenditure: €1,020,818 (£885,936)
The blue chip GAA county as regards fundraising and finance in 2012. A surplus that equates to Cork, but considering the 'GAA' population of Tyrone is around 110,000 people , their results are the most impressive. The Club Tyrone machine generated €414, 246 (£355,962) for the board.