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Cash counts if you want Sam - McGeeney

KILDARE manager Kieran McGeeney has launched a vigorous defence of his team's recent training camp in Portugal at a time when its own county board is in the financial mire.

According to McGeeney, the perception of Lilywhite footballers 'sunning' themselves overseas while Croke Park was supposedly bailing out the Kildare county board to the tune of €300,000 only tells half the story.

Why? Firstly, he says, because the Kildare players themselves raised the required funding for their 10-day training camp. Secondly, because the so-called 'bailout' is an upfront payment on monies that will be due to Kildare GAA, as opposed to a loan.

"It is your job to make headlines," he told GAA reporters at a Croke Park press briefing to promote the Allianz Football League finals this weekend.

"I can't change that. Things are there to sell papers. It is not as if any mistruths are given, but the whole story does not always be told."

Kildare's training camp has attracted its fair share of negative press - and some barbed Twitter commentary too.

"Cold nights these days, think I'll get on to Croke Park to pay for a foreign training camp as they r doing for another county at present??" tweeted Monaghan footballer Dick Clerkin recently.

McGeeney has now told the full story from his perspective. "We are probably four years into the worst recession in the history of the world," he pointed out.

"A lot of other teams are coming down the line with similar things.

"It probably won't get the same amount of headlines that we get. I don't know why that particular reason is. There are other teams who are in worse predicaments and it is well known ... and they still don't get the same headlines.

"As for the funding, the players raised that funding themselves.

"Again, people say that funding would have been there for other people, but it wouldn't. That funding would not have existed.

"It goes back to the argument that if the government did not spend money on sport they would spend it on health, but that is not the way it works.

"Fellas went out and raised money and, instead of going on a holiday before Christmas, they wanted to go on a training camp," the Kildare boss added.

"Again, if you look at the bigger picture, if you look at the teams that are winning All-Irelands over the past 10 or 15 years.

"Are they the biggest counties, are they the richest counties? The answer is 'yes'.

"The preparations for teams are tough and we are trying to do it. Everybody is working together."

The Armagh man went on to defend his adopted county board, insisting they are "not a bunch of pariahs".

"There are things that have to be changed and we are all trying to do it and work together, and it is not easy," he stressed. "They are still trying to prepare underage teams the best, they are trying to do things for the county and it costs money.

"You can ask have Kildare done their fair share? Yes. Three million euros in ticket sales over the last four years, and that is not counting the TV rights and all the other stuff, but they are buying into the GAA ethos like everyone else.

"That goes back into the pot for those teams that are not producing those ticket sales. It is a wee bit unfair on the people of Kildare to be saying that they are not doing things right. If they were getting all that back to themselves, they would be in a healthier state than a lot of the counties that aren't.

"We are all GAA family and I think that ethos is good. We all put into the one pot and it is spread out among all of us.

"Times are difficult and, believe me, it is coming down the line for a lot of counties," McGeeney predicted.

Upfront payment

"Again," he stressed, "it is an upfront payment, it is not even a loan."

McGeeney wasn't convinced by the notion that his own high profile attracts extra attention.

"Maybe," he mused, "but it is unfair to say that because the boys are playing well.

"We haven't won any silverware but we are up there and we are trying. That might change this summer. This time next year I could be .... you don't know.

"There is a fine line and the managers realise it too. People like to think that we don't want to talk to the press -- but our job is to win games, your job is to create stories that are of interest and will sell newspapers.

"Sometimes those two don't always produce a great synergy, and that's life," he reflected.

"Unfortunately, good news does not sell like bad news. We did a few things around Christmas time that we thought were good news stories, we sent out press releases and not a dicky-bird."