Monday 19 March 2018

Leinster 'not availing of Croker cash'


LEINSTER Council chief executive Michael Delaney has called on counties in the province to "put aside their petty squabbling" if they want to make any progress during the economic downturn.

And Delaney has claimed that Leinster counties were very slow to avail of the money generated by the opening of Croke Park to soccer and rugby. Writing in his report to the annual convention, Delaney expressed fears that this could hamper games development in the province in the current climate.

"When Croke Park was opened up to rugby and soccer internationals, there was a windfall of cash for the GAA," he said. "Coupled with this was generous lottery funding available to clubs and county boards. In the prevailing economic boom there was a sense then that we could change the whole infrastructural face of the Association.

"Plans were drawn up for an array of new playing facilities and we in Leinster were to the forefront in making these plans. Then came the economic downturn. The lottery funding dried up. Sponsorship dried up. We reached the end of the lucrative internationals in Croke Park. Result -- our National Management Committee, wisely, ordered a review of all our planned projects. This resulted in new guidelines being set down for all projects. Some of our units found this difficult to accept."

The CEO pointed out that Ulster, Munster and Connacht appear to be way ahead of Leinster in meeting guidelines for new centres of excellence, training grounds, ball alleys and other developments.

"Leinster trails distantly behind the other provinces in project development," he adds. "Our share of the funding is still ring-fenced but our perseverance with petty squabbles means we are very slow to avail of it.

"It's now time for us in Leinster to kick on with necessary and feasible development. We can do this and still abide by the new national guidelines. Many of our counties have projects in mind and they will soon join the queue for finance. They will need our guidance and direction. Leinster must devise a structured development plan which must address necessity, financial viability, value for money and ability of our counties to sustain the projects. All this is within our capabilities but we need all our players to be hitting the ball in the same direction."

Delaney also called on clubs and counties to pay greater attention to the amount they are forking out on injury claims, some of which he described as "spurious". Failing that, he warned, the GAA Players Injury Fund will not survive. His comments came just days after the Sunday Independent revealed that €9.5m was forked out on injury claims in 2009.

"A number of spurious claims are being presented and many of these get through the system. I am treading on thin ice here but it's time some hard calls were made. Why do some clubs seem to have players much more prone to injury than others? Is it the training regime or creative form filling? Are all injuries incurred in the pursuit of hurling and Gaelic football activities? Why do our players seem to have so little personal accident cover? The questions can go on and on. Officers must stand up and be counted in this area.

"Many things make us different from other Associations -- the care for our players through the Players Injury Scheme is one outstanding difference. We must protect this scheme. The fact that it is, to some degree, self-policing may be a weakness so that aspect may have to be examined.

"My appeal is to the county officers of Leinster to show due diligence in ensuring that abuses are stamped out in their counties."

Sunday Independent

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