Kildare hope to resolve hurlers' protests
KILDARE chairman John McMahon has insisted that they are doing everything possible to try to meet the needs of the county hurlers and hold on to their management team.
McMahon admitted that the Lilywhites' dire financial situation is at the heart of the revolt which has seen manager Willie Sunderland and his back-room team resign, despite leading the Lilies to a Division 2B title and promotion last year.
The county's hurling captain Fiachra O Muineachain voiced the frustrations of their players yesterday and lashed local officials for their lack of financial support which he said was like "a kick in the teeth".
McMahon said he remained hopeful that Sunderland and his management team will stay on board and stressed that negotiations are ongoing to try to ensure that happens.
"We have offered the hurlers a budget of €75,000 for 2013, they produced an estimate of their needs which is greater than that and we are working hard to try to find some middle ground," McMahon said.
"It is very tight, but it's not just the hurlers, the footballers are also on a much tighter budget this year which they're not happy with.
"We have all got to make allowances for the fact that there are very severe constraints on us all at the moment in terms of what we spend and what we must produce through fundraising and sponsorship."
Kildare lost long-time sponsors Tegral last autumn and have still not replaced them.
But a far bigger problem is the €700,000 over-spend that the county have racked up in the last few years, which has seen Croke Park effectively appoint its own administrator to tightly monitor their finances.
The county board have also had to come up with their own fundraising initiatives and among the dramatic solutions that they have tried to impose in order to make cutbacks was that all county teams train at the same time in their Hawkfield HQ this season, in order to share team medics and physios.
McMahon accepted yesterday that this is not viable and he also indicated that they will meet the hurlers' request for their own physio, though it looks like they will have to share team doctors with the footballers.
Sunderland and his management team quit before Christmas in frustration at the slashing of their budget.
The Wexford man, who has coached his native Oulart-The Ballagh to several county titles, revealed that he did not even have an ice-pack to treat an injured player at one training session.
O Muineachain said yesterday that they also did not receive the minimum amount of gear that they were entitled to last year under the deal agreed with the Gaelic Players' Association (GPA).
McMahon said the board had honoured the necessary gear commitments with their hurlers but admitted it did not happen until very late last season.
He said the substantial difference between the level of funding for the county's hurlers and footballers (believed to be €230,000 this season) is due to the fact that "the hurlers have a much shorter season".
He also refuted O Muineachain's claim that they had not provided the hurlers with basic equipment such as sliotars.
"I genuinely don't know where that is coming from because I personally delivered six dozen sliotars to one of the management team before Christmas," McMahon said.
Sunderland quit on December 21 and O Muineachain voiced the players' frustrations yesterday, describing it as "an absolute kick in the teeth. We just want to get a fair crack of the whip."