Thursday 24 May 2018

Eugene McGee: GAA should match GPA deal with cash for kids' coaching

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy at yesterday’s announcement in Croke Park. Picture Credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy at yesterday’s announcement in Croke Park. Picture Credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

Most GAA people will wonder at the apparent generosity the Association is offering to the GPA. Over €6m straight away per year to start this new three-year deal, and as with all such deals, there will be 'improvements' as we go along.

Incredible figures like up to €600 per year to every county player to make sure he eats lots of fruit, yogurt and the like but not a sign of bacon and cabbage on the horizon, and God be with the days when players looked forward for a good steak after a game. Modern nutrition has changed all that!

Read More: Deal 'elevates' players to new level - Farrell

The increased mileage rate from 50 cent to 65 cent is certainly correct, and in a new development that money will go to county boards to pay those players' mileage.

A figure of €800,000 will go straight to the GPA coffers, with a donation of €200,000 per year to help surgical treatment for some former players, a clever tactical move by both parties.


But that is merely a drop in the ocean, unless they can find some yellow-pack surgeons.

The most significant development is to let the GPA take up to 15pc of the takings from GAA monies provided by sponsorship and the like.

This should raise up to €2.5m a year but that is not the important thing - rather it is the principle being established that the GPA is entitled to get paid what is in reality a commission for being county players.

And 15pc now will undoubtedly escalate in three years' time, and we can also assume that at that stage the GPA will be aiming to get their cut from the bonanza that is television rights.

The money the GPA spends on player welfare is definitely well spent, especially the role they play in combating addiction of various sorts, particularly gambling, which is rampant among young footballers all over Ireland.

Education facilities is another positive development in the GPA.

GAA negotiators nowadays are a lot more savvy in business and finance than in the distant pass when the local accountant - a GAA man of course - was always asked to help out on a voluntary basis.

This is shown by the hard deals the GAA has stitched into this agreement, from what we can gather.

There will be more control and influence by the GAA over a lot of GPA activity, particularly in its usage of GAA money.

All GPA commercial activity will be monitored as to how it is spent.

I imagine GPA fought hard to gain more influence inside the GAA corridors of power but have been largely rebuffed on that one.

One extra delegate to Congress will not cause shivers in Croke Park, nor will the power of the GPA put in a motion at Congress.

So much for the GPA's present role in the GAA, but the elephant in the room is of course the almost complete divorce of the GPA from the other 98pc of players, ie, the clubs.

This extra money for the elite county men will further widen the gap between the two branches of football.

Without in any way demeaning the work of the GPA, there will still be many solid GAA people around Ireland who will wonder what could be done for, say, underage coaching in nearly every county with that €6.2m a year.


More specifically, could the GAA could not see its way to match the GPA funding for such coaching, especially in the weaker football counties?

So 124 good new coaches starting this year would be the biggest contribution the GAA could make to advancing the cause of club and county football - and there would be no need for a song and dance about it either.

Irish Independent

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