Wednesday 13 December 2017

Next GAA president slams outside managers


THE next GAA president Liam O'Neill has expressed his opposition to counties bringing in outside managers. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, O'Neill, who will take over from Christy Cooney in 2012, admitted that when he was Laois county secretary, he clashed with managers over money demands.

His comments come ahead of a report on the issue of payments to managers, being prepared by the GAA's director general Paraic Duffy.

"County managers are in charge of the most important brand in a county, the county team," says O'Neill. "Strong counties don't have to have managers that are bigger than the county boards; this comes from the tiers below that, who have a county chairman who has only five years and wants to achieve something.

"So they take in the big manager, import him in, and once you do that you then become his slave. Because in your five-year term you can't fall out with him and be the one who lost the manager. So you are at that disadvantage the whole time. The balance of power shifts."

He said counties and clubs needed to roll back the years and become self-sufficient. "We try to enforce the rules as best we can, then we find some other way. The amount paid to managers by clubs, I think we need to actually put those figures on the table. I would say the amount of money is staggering and can't be sustained, and won't in the current climate anyway.

"We are actively working towards self-sufficiency. Every club and county would have qualified coaches, and the better ones would coach the county teams -- that is the ideal. We are only going back to what we did before. We have gone away from it. We are going back to something from our own lifetime, it is not that difficult."

O'Neill, an unopposed candidate, refuted claims he didn't have a mandate. "I didn't have an election so I owe nothing to anyone and that will shape my committees too -- I'm looking forward to getting new people in. I know that I belong to nobody, I am unusual in that. I belong to no group in Croke Park, I am my own man. It was the same in Laois; that has meant it has always taken me longer to go where I wanted to go. To be independent, I have paid the price for that."

Speaking on pitch invasions, he said: "I felt it was pity we had to put the glass wall up (at Croke Park), I think we lost something the day we did that. But I am not sure that it is something we could have avoided the way things are running now, with the claims culture. At one stage people thought that to stop an old man smoking a pipe in a pub would be a dreadful thing. And it happened, for very good reasons, and life moved on."

He also addressed the movement of Laois footballers to Dublin clubs: "Clubs are doing it more because they have the resources and when you are appointing someone because you have money you are not doing it for the right reasons. If a club was strapped for cash they would not look for someone down the country, they would look for someone local, someone reliable they could trust.

"It's amazing why it is happening so much in Laois, why we have been targeted. It can't be good for morale in a club.

"Let's take a club buying in a coach who is an inter-county footballer; he is replacing somebody who is brought up in the local development structure. You bring fellas who are 10 and younger into the club, you develop them as players, you bring them to minor, you get them on the senior team and then one morning you say, actually, we don't need you anymore, we have an import. What does that do for morale? What does that do for his family? It can't be good."

See Page 7

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