Thursday 25 May 2017

Former Kilkenny captain savages Cooney over GAA's campaign to stop manager payment

GAA president Christy Cooney has come in for criticism from former Kilkenny All-Ireland winning captain Eddie O'Connor
GAA president Christy Cooney has come in for criticism from former Kilkenny All-Ireland winning captain Eddie O'Connor
O’Brien: 'Up to each county board'

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Former Kilkenny All-Ireland winning captain Eddie O'Connor has launched a stinging attack on GAA president Christy Cooney, labelling him "a gobsh**e and a hypocrite" for describing payments to managers as "a cancer running through our organisation".

Paraic Duffy doesn't escape O'Connor's ire either, given that the director general made public his intent to tackle the issue last year.

O'Connor, who led the Cats to glory in 1993, suggests that Cooney and Duffy carry out their work for the GAA for free -- or at least on a vastly reduced income -- if they are true to their concerns about the association's amateur status.

"It smacks of a gobsh**e and a hypocrite," O'Connor blasted. "Some of the people in Croke Park, they're not in touch with reality at all. Dopes, really, is what they are. They're not in touch with the people on the ground. It's the people on the ground doing all the work.

"Rumour has it that Christy Cooney is on €3,000 a week, so he has some neck to be coming out with those comments. If he's that concerned about the GAA, why don't himself and Paraic Duffy do the job for nothing? It beggars belief. It really annoys me."

VOLUNTARY

While the director general's position is salaried, the presidency is theoretically a voluntary role. With the president being seconded to the GAA for the term of his presidency and continuing to be paid by his employers during that three-year period, the association recompenses the employers the full sum and thus carries the cost.

In Cooney's case, as a high-ranking executive with FAS, that figure has been reported at approximately €158,000 a year -- or just over €470,000 in total.

O'Connor is fuming that there is no ceiling on this figure however, and the Glenmore man says that Cooney "has some neck" to make comments about "Mickey Mouse expenses" to managers given those circumstances.

"You have people in Croke Park getting huge expenses turning up for meetings. If you bring in an outside manager, he's gone for four or five hours every night. Compare that with bringing in an electrician for four or five hours a night at €20 an hour, or a qualified carpenter," said O'Connor.

"You're bringing in an expert to improve the team. There's travelling involved, there's time involved. There are mobile phones. When you train a club or county team they own you for the year.

"What Croke Park should be doing is, instead of paying the likes of Christy Cooney €150,000-plus a year, give him €50,000 and give two players €50,000 -- or €30,000 each to three players -- to go around coaching in schools."

Tipperary chairman Barry O'Brien has gone on record this week saying that he would support the payment of county managers in an above-board fashion, and O'Connor agrees.

"If a county board wants to bring in an outside manager to do a job that's their entitlement," said O'Connor.

"It's up to each county if they feel the need for an outside manager. Each county makes its own decision, each club makes its own decision and it's none of the business of the hierarchy of the GAA after that."

The GAA consider the issue to be more of a problem at club level, and incoming president Liam O'Neill has already slammed the culture of the outside manager, as did Cooney's predecessor Nickey Brennan of Kilkenny.

However O'Connor, who finished his career with two All-Irelands as well as a club All-Ireland title, supports a club's right to appoint a man from outside.

O'Connor has coached and managed in Waterford and Wexford -- as well as in his native county -- and believes that the outside manager is more likely to get positive results.

He points to the successes of Glenmore in his own playing days, with Georgie Leahy being in charge when they won the All-Ireland in 1991 -- while Tom Casey, Tommy Ryan and Martin Og Morrissey oversaw county championship winning seasons for them also.

The GAA were making no comment last night.

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