Payments to managers a major threat to amateur ethos - Duffy
Despite reaffirmation a few years ago of the need to uphold the GAA's rules on amateur status, payments continue to be made to managers in what director-general Páraic Duffy describes as a "real threat to the ethos of the Association".
Despite it being a clear infringement of the rules, Croke Park is largely powerless to act because the payments almost always come from outside the Association and do not show up on any accounts.
"That involves the connivance of people inside the GAA. We know what's going on, but try to get evidence and you hit a brick wall," said Duffy.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Duffy (right) says that the GAA will only survive as an amateur organisation if the full membership - which will reach around 550,000 this year - buys into the ethos.
"You can't be hypocritical and remain credible. If people continue to turn a blind eye (to payments), it will be devastating for the Association," he said.
Duffy identifies the population shift from west to east and from rural to urban areas as the single biggest challenge facing the GAA and admits that it's impossible to predict the long-term impact.
"We can't fix this on our own - it's outside our control. That's what makes it so worrying. This is about Ireland deciding what sort of country we should have, whether we want the vast majority of people living in the east, leaving other parts of the country near-empty. I can't see how that's a good strategy. It would certainly be disastrous for the GAA," he said.
On the games front, he strongly defends the introduction of the 'Super 8' football championship format, which starts next year, and describes claims that it's money-driven as 'clichéd nonsense." He predicts that a secondary championship in football is on its way and believes that a streamlined new fixtures' schedule will improve the lot of club players.
He believes there would be no need for the Club Players Association if county boards ran their affairs better, including keeping tighter controls on team managers.
"Some county managers have too much power when it comes to the club programme. Why do county boards allow that?" he said.
He backs the retention of the controversial 'black card' rule but admits that it needs to be implemented better.
"The black card rule has proved challenging for referees. It's important that they get it right more often in this year's championship," he said.