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O’Neill rails at ‘grab all’ jibe

GAA equals Grab All Association. That was the cynical barb always directed at Croke Park in the wake of some "money-spinning replay" allegedly engineered by a dodgy injury-time free.

Not so, says GAA president Liam O'Neill, who has rubbished the notion that the association is only in it for the money and cited – as proof – its decision to slash ticket prices for the All-Ireland hurling final replay.

O'Neill also confirmed that the players from Kilkenny and Galway are set to share in the replay dividend.

This, most likely, will come in the form of a contribution to team holiday funds, although the GAA will have to tread warily as even this could be subject of a possible tax implication.

There has been speculation that the two squads could share anything up to €100,000 from the September 30 replay.

When asked if players would directly get some reward, O'Neill said: “We have never shirked our responsibility in that area and we've always thought of the players first.

“We have to see and do what's right in best practice, and we have to handle these things sensitively, but we will do it after consultation with both county boards. It has to be holidays, it can't be anything else.”

A potential problem could arise here because, as GAA director-general Páraic Duffy spelled out in his recent discussion document on payment to managers, holiday vouchers are “not considered as expenses by Revenue and there, therefore, liable to tax”.

In slashing stand ticket prices from €80 to €50, terrace tickets from €40 to €25, and making available approximately 5,000 juvenile tickets priced €10, the GAA's replay windfall has been reduced by a potential €2 million. According to its president, this puts a lie to the notion of an organisation obsessed by filthy lucre.

“It always amazes me that people believe we want to amass money,” said O'Neill. “Money is of no value to us unless we can give it out.

“We exist to get people out on |All-Ireland final day - that's the result of the investment we have put into their playing careers,” he added.

“This idea that we're a ‘grab all' organisation? We don't need that money. I don't know how people can't just see that it all goes back (to counties) anyway. We only exist to recycle, renew and regenerate.”

O'Neill stressed that as least |“86 per cent of every euro we take in goes back to clubs and counties across the board. We don't want any more and we don't need any more.”

He said they were conscious of the support received from “hurling people” during this year's league and wanted to make a gesture of appreciation that was “visible and tangible” to these supporters.

“I spoke to one family last week who brought two adults and six children last weekend and paid over €600. They will pay €160 the next day for an absolutely top-class occasion,” the Laois man concluded.


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