Top players will get only €700 each as grant scheme remains same
SENIOR inter-county players got almost €1m in the annual grant scheme again yesterday but, by the time it is divided up, even the most successful of them will only receive between €400-€700.
When the GAA players' grants were originally introduced in 2008, the figure was €3.5m and players who were involved longest in the All-Ireland series could receive up to €2,500 from it.
But the scheme, like all government support for sport in the past decade, has been hit by the economic downturn.
It has remained at roughly the same level for the past few years, and the sum yesterday was €900,000.
Players have to submit vouched expenses to claim their individual grant, and the longer they are involved in the championship, the more they get.
The scheme is agreed, on a two-year basis, with the Department of Tourism and Sport and the Sports Council.
While it is a lot less than when it started, it has established the principle that senior county players deserve some recognition, like other elite athletes, for their contribution to their communities and society.
A majority of players voted to go on strike over the issue back in 2007, when they argued that their commitment deserved some financial support.
Elsewhere, Carlow hurling referee Paud O'Dwyer and football officials Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary), Patrick Neilan (Roscommon) and Sean Hurson (Tyrone) have been promoted onto this summer's championship panels.
Fermanagh's Martin Higgins (retired) is the only absentee from last year's football panel which has increased by two.
There was a two-tier system in hurling in 2014 with a panel of four newcomers only used for Leinster's round-robin qualifiers but all of this year's 12-man panel can do any game and Diarmuid Kirwan returns to the list after a one-year absence.
2015 Football SFC Referees
C Branagan (Down), B Cassidy (Derry), D Coldrick, D Gough & C Reilly (Meath), M Deegan & E Kinsella (Laois), Marty Duffy (Sligo), R Hickey (Clare), P Hughes (Armagh), S Hurson (Tyrone), F Kelly (Longford), C Lane (Cork), P Neilan (Roscommon), A Nolan (Wicklow), J McQuillan (Cavan), P O'Sullivan (Kerry), D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).
2015 Hurling SHC Referees
B Gavin (Offaly), F Horgan (Tipperary), J Keenan (Wicklow), A Kelly (Galway), B Kelly & James McGrath (Westmeath), D Kirwan, C Lyons & C McAllister (Cork), P O'Dwyer (Carlow), J Owens (Wexford), J Ryan (Tipperary).