Stay at home
ON the day the senior footballers of Kerry and Meath jetted off for pre-championship training camps in Portugal, GAA president Christy Cooney has pleaded with county boards to use the "top-class" facilities available in Ireland.
Responding to an article in yesterday's Irish Independent, Cooney argued that domestic facilities should be used where possible in an effort to curb costs and support hard-pressed Irish businesses.
"If we're going to have opportunities with bonding, if you want to call it that, if we can do it at home we should do it home and support our own people," Cooney stated. "That's my view. Support our sponsors and support our hotels."
Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid chose Maynooth's Carton House as their base for a pre-season training camp last year while AFL agent Ricky Nixon opted for Breaffy House in Mayo as his base for the controversial Aussie Rules recruitment trials.
But, despite the existence of these venues and other similar resorts countrywide, the hurlers of Waterford, Tipperary and Cork are also set to jet off to the continent in the coming weeks
"We have a lot of top-class facilities in the country and why shouldn't we use those? It's down to the county board and the team management. We have no say in how they're going to train the teams or how they're going to bond or what they're going to do," said the Cork native.
"I'm not aware of who's going but I would much prefer if we would support the industry at home. We're in a difficult economic climate and if it can be done at home, why shouldn't it be done at home?"
While any calls from the GAA hierarchy to keep business at home are laudable, there is always a danger that the Croke Park top brass will leave them open to accusation about their own commitment to using all things Irish.
Only last summer, the Croker pitch was controversially re-laid using turf which originated in England, while GAA officials annually join players on the Vodafone All Star tours at various venues across the world -- admittedly to keep in touch with the far-flung Irish diaspora.
Cooney, meanwhile, also hit back at Tyrone boss Mickey Harte's comments regarding the change in rule in how league rankings are decided.
From this season, teams finishing on the same points in all divisions of the national league -- both hurling and football -- will be separated on the result between the sides, and not score difference, as was previously the case.
The GAA chief stated that the various county boards were responsible for letting managers know about any relevant rule changes.
"If people comment, I can't control that. I'd like naturally that people would check their facts before they comment. That's it really.
"It's the responsibility (of the counties), it's not an onus. It's their responsibility to do that.
"They are their team managers, not Croke Park, so it's on them to make sure that their managers at all levels are aware of the policies and rules of the association with regard to the governance of our competitions."