Monday 24 July 2017

Cancer of payments must be stopped -- Cooney

MARIE CROWE in Mullingar

GAA president Christy Cooney has condemned the culture of payments to managers, telling delegates at yesterday's annual Congress in Mullingar that it is like a cancer running through the organisation.

"It is nurtured and supported by poor or complete abdication of leadership," said Cooney. "And sometimes carefully orchestrated through supporters' clubs or so-called friends of the GAA, people very often with an interest in the realisation of short-term goals only and no interest or understanding of our rules and regulations."

In a strong speech, Cooney also questioned the point of the GAA's voluntary ethos and amateur status in the context of the continuing payments to managers.

He added that a lack of adherence to the GAA's rules must be addressed and that the only solution to the problem was the withdrawal of financial support to counties who break the rules.

"I believe it is necessary now for all of us to take stock in an effort to find out if we can be the organisation we desire to be," said Cooney.

The GAA president said he is hoping to call together the chairpersons, secretaries, treasurers and Central Council delegates of each county board to a discussion forum within the next two months to discuss the issue.

Cooney also raised the possibility of reorganising the provincial boundaries. He said that while the provinces are a "crucial link" in the GAA's coaching and games programme there is a need for the current structure to be reassessed.

"Do we need a more even spread of counties in each province?" he said. "Should we dispense with the ancient geographical borders of the four provinces and seek instead to realign our provinces along more practical lines, in a manner that better suits the Association's needs in the 21st century?"

Cooney, who now enters his last year as president, also addressed the possibility of breaking up the Dublin County Board to better cater for the capital's population.

"Is it realistic for Dublin -- and a quarter of the population -- to be catered for by one single county board? Is it allowing the GAA to get the most out of Dublin, or would an administrative re-examination allow for higher penetration levels when it comes to activity?"

He also confirmed that he will establish a working group to consider the effectiveness of Congress and said that the GAA want to help create 10,000 sustainable jobs by 2013 in the green, waste and energy sectors.

His address also revealed that a new pricing structure will be announced before this summer's championship.

The GAA president is not in favour of the continued inclusion of weaker counties in the National Hurling Leagues. He believes that the current system means a limited number of players receive regular games while those outside of the county side were left without regular matches.

"I am not advocating the cessation of inter-county activity or the disbanding of the inter-county team in such counties.

"Rather, I am suggesting that until such time as a reasonable level of club hurling activity is evident and until such time as there is evidence of proper and meaningful progress on the numbers playing the game in these counties, their inter-county participation should be restricted to the summer championship competition only."

Meanwhile, the controversial winter training ban has been upheld. Laois had proposed a November-only inter-county training ban but 54% of delegates rejected the motion.

After the decision was reached Cooney asked delegates to enforce the rule they had voted in. "Stop codding ourselves," he said.

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