Sunday 26 March 2017

Provinces essential for GAA's 'future viability'

DAMIAN LAWLOR

FORMER Munster Council chairman Jimmy O'Gorman has launched a staunch defence of provincial councils and their championships and says both are vital for the future health of the Association.

"We've heard a lot of talk lately that the provincial championships are dead and that the roles of provincial councils are no longer important," said O'Gorman, whose term in the Munster Council chair came to an end on Friday night.

"But it's easy to come out with these things. The truth is that provincial councils are investing heavily in the future of the game. In Munster and elsewhere, we are doing this on an annual basis and people seem to ignore that.

"People can have a pop all they want but we have serious financial commitments and they are all geared towards the future viability of the GAA. We spend in excess of €1.5m on games development every year, we award 70 bursaries of €1,000 each to the best up and coming talent in the Association to help them with third-level education and we contribute over €50,000 a year to the games in primary schools to give youngsters a taste of what might be in the future.

"On top of that, we contribute wages to over 40 people who are working for the health of the GAA. We have four full-time administrators and the rest of those people are working in second- and third-level institutions or working as coaches for us. We are on the ground working so people should see the bigger picture. The truth is we need more resources. Primary schools are our biggest target and we need to aim more resources at this sector. The future of the GAA is totally dependent on this area."

As he departed office, the Waterford native also dismissed ongoing speculation that the provincial championships are on their last legs.

"We should be trying to fill the many stadiums we have, not trying to reduce the number of games that can be played in our Munster and regional venues," he said.

"Speaking from the heart, where would we be without Munster final day in Thurles, Cork or Limerick? We provide fixtures which are the heartbeat of the GAA summer."

At convention, Munster Council CEO Pat Fitzgerald hit out at the growing culture of blaming and confronting referees after losing games.

"Some supporters and officials have been completely out of order," he said. "As a council, we will not tolerate this behaviour and we have a responsibility to punish any unit guilty of such behaviour."

Sunday Independent

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