Tuesday 16 January 2018

Players a credit

How close are we to the day when the top intercounty players become full-time or at least semi-professional.

I know this a taboo subject for many die-hard members of the GAA but this scenario is creeping ever closer and we can either keep our heads in the sand or embrace the changes which should improve the product in all counties.

All inter-county players today make serious commitments to play for their respective counties and these players certainly put their lives and and their family lives on hold for a large portion of the year.

They play before and entertain huge crowds and they are surely entitled to a greater portion of the spin-offs.

If you look at the changes to the GAA in the last 20 years one can only imagine where it will be in the next 20.

The Dublin County Board are definitely extending the boundaries of amateurism to the very limit and I congratulate them fully and endorse their professionalism and the manner in which they reward their players while also trying to continuously develop all teams in the county.

The appointment recently of former county footballer Tomás Quinn as commercial and marketing manager and Mike Farnan as senior consultant with responsibility for the strategic development and execution of the commercial and brand development initiatives is an indication of their willingness to maximise their corporate potential at every opportunity.

The announcement early this year of AIG as the county's main sponsor indicates the Dublin team's standing currently in the sports industry not only in this country but also now worldwide. The fact that AIG also sponsor Man United and the All Blacks is a huge endorsement that Dublin are doing things right.

This week we also read that Toyota will provide the Dublin hurling and football squads with 16 new Toyota cars.

I am sure that Toyota will want the higher profile Dublin players such as footballers Brogan, McAuley, Cluxton and Flynn and hurlers Conal Keaney, Peter Kelly and David O'Callaghan behind the wheels of these lovely new cars.

Tomás Quinn didn't waste much time in securing such a big coup and with AIG on board the insurance won't be a problem. The only problem they will have is who to allocate these cars to.

With the costs involved in preparing county teams escalating all the time I am sure that many other counties are looking over their shoulders enviously at Dublin's ever increasing wealth. Dublin is without doubt streets ahead of all counties in all aspects of the GAA.

There is definitely a case for greater distribution of the GAA wealth especially among the weaker counties who, due to their limited exposure, find great difficulty is generating sufficient income from sponsorship.

I know the President elect has stated that he is anxious to address the distribution of wealth across the GAA, let's hope he does.

Other counties should, even on lesser scale, look at the template Dublin is using regarding generating funding.

Apart from their two main sponsors they are also associated with Louis Copeland, The Gibson Hotel and Deep Riverrock. Thankfully, in all counties, the GAA is the main sporting interest and many branches of the community are prepared, if the product is correct, to get behind their county financially.

Are we in Wicklow approaching sponsorship or the corporate sector correctly?

Is our current image inviting? I know there is no way can we compare ourselves with Dublin who have huge potential in this area.

I don't think we have the necessary equipped personnel at County Board level to attract sufficient sponsors or funding? Could we in Wicklow employ a full-time corporate manager? The correct appointment would benefit Wicklow GAA greatly.

This suitable person could be employed on a two year trial contract to access its feasibility. This person would have full responsibility for all commercial sponsorship and fundraising in the county.

Some of the current fundraising activities have become stale and ineffective and new attractive initiatives need to be implemented.

Thankfully, we in Wicklow have the Centre of Excellence in Ballinakill which we look forward to opening very soon. We also have the new football development squads up and running. Both of these projects will require substantial funding. Maybe the cart was put before the horse somewhat in relation to these projects.

Despite their success one area of concern for Dublin is their lack of a centre for their county teams to train.

It is public knowledge that they have to use various clubs including Bray Emmets' fantastic facilities. Due to the location of the GAA's new Centre of Excellence in Abbotstown Dublin GAA will no doubt again benefit here.

The hurlers will be happy to have collected two valuable points in their push for promotion following their unconvincing win against a gallant Armagh.

Christy Moorehouse had some very good patches in the game and his goal and three points were most important on the day. Other strong performers were John Henderson, Danny Staunton and the ever reliable Stephen Kelly.

Wicklow were under considerable pressure at centre and corner back for lengthy periods of the game and the placement of Henderson at number six gave greater stability to the backline in general.

What a very poor performance overall by the footballers.

To lose a Division 4 match at home by such a large deficit is worrying.

Leitrim were worthy winners and really exposed many weaknesses in the Wicklow team. Harry has a big job on his hands to turn it around.

The lack of pace and composure on the ball needs addressing.

Wicklow People

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