Tipp chief hits out at GPA over fundraising drive in USA
TIPPERARY chairman Sean Nugent has accused the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) of hampering his county's fundraising initiatives in the United States.
He said that when Tipperary took the unprecedented step of going abroad to seek help paying off their debt of close to half a million euro last April, they discovered that the GPA had visited the Big Apple ahead of them and affected their fundraising potential.
Tipperary managed to dramatically turn around their financial problems in the past year, clearing a debt of €244,930 to return a surplus of €52,699.
"We were surprised to find that the GPA were there before us, also on a fundraising mission, when we went to New York," said Nugent.
The Tipp chief claimed that this caused some confusion among the county's US-based supporters as to which cause they should support, and he asked the GAA top brass to ensure there are no more fund-raising conflicts.
"How are the counties expected to fund inter-county teams and improve facilities for county players if we have to compete with another tier of fundraising carrying the GAA name at home or abroad?" added Nugent.
The GPA said they have been fundraising in America for the past three years and needed to continue doing so to elevate their player development programme.
"We have a playing membership of more than 2,200, and a growing number of former players. We have to be able to deal with serious issues such as supporting heart surgery for a player or full-time residential care for players when the need arises," said GPA spokesman Sean Potts.
"One of the ways we are addressing that challenge is seeking philanthropic support and fundraising in the USA."
Nugent acknowledged that the GPA has "the capacity to do great things for players" and that "ventures like job creation, education, player welfare, mental health issues, confidential counselling and so on are to be lauded and appreciated."
But he insisted: "The funding of these areas must be jointly controlled by Croke Park, ensuring the benefits are inclusive and transparent and, most importantly, do not cut across the volunteer-led fundraising by counties to improve training facilities and support services for inter-county players."
Meanwhile, a hurling fan in Westmeath has been hit with a year's suspension for clashing with a referee at the end of the county final. The St Olivers Plunkett's supporter has accepted the 48-week ban for an incident with referee Feichin Brennan after a loss to Castletown-Geoghegan two months ago.