What your county said
In an exclusive survey, we asked every County Board six topical GAA questions.
ANTRIM (Ciarán McCavana)
Baile Átha Cliath is the capital, we should promote Gaelic games in our capital, put more funds in general into more coaches in all counties and cut down on administrative staff.
ARMAGH (Mickey Savage)
I don’t really think so. It’s up to every other county to try and arrange their finances. Here in my own county, we have some great sponsors and I know well we could probably utilise more. If Dublin are good at raising funds, why should the GAA as an organisation penalise them? I’m in favour of giving the other counties more money – don’t get me wrong there! – but not at Dublin’s expense.
CARLOW (Jim Bolger)
Right now, if we took a million euro from Dublin and divided it among the other counties would that make a difference? I doubt it. If you gave it all to one county would it make a difference?
Perhaps, but in reality, only if they had the systems in place to use it properly/wisely. Many counties need assistance with the commercial and marketing side of things as funding and finance are a constant issue.
Counties have to be adequately resourced and a more ‘fit for purpose’ split of central resources is a must if counties are to sustain our games. In addition, this would serve to take the pressure off our volunteers who are preoccupied with finances and fundraising, finding it difficult to even have the time to think strategically for the county.
Equalisation and means testing have been mentioned but back to the numbers again and where you have big numbers you also need big resources.
Splitting Dublin has also been bandied about. This I believe can never be imposed on Dublin GAA. However, if the numbers playing club football continue to increase and the standard maintains then a whole raft of top players may never get the opportunity to wear their county colours.
In time this may cause some unrest and at that juncture there may have to be a debate in relation to a better way to serve the player numbers however, any solution in this regard would have to come from within Dublin ie if it is to sustain.
CAVAN (Kieran Callaghan)
I’m a firm believer in volunteers getting out in the evening and upskilling. It’s not all about money. The GAA is built on volunteers and they have done a lot of work over many decades. With the population in Dublin some clubs have bigger catchment areas than some counties in Ireland. There is no doubt about it though, Dublin’s not going to be split up. It’s not going to happen. The rest have to up the ante, try to get to that level, to make sure the future players are in the best possible condition.
CORK (Marc Sheehan)
Given the population base in Dublin I don’t anticipate a reduction of funding in the capital city, each county must maximise their own commercial opportunities. To that end we are striving to maximise our commercial sponsorship in Cork and great strides are being made in that regard even in the current challenged economic climate. We welcomed new club championship sponsors on board for the 2020 campaign (Bons Secours Hospital and Co-Op Superstores) and signed a lucrative jersey sponsorship with Sports Direct recently. We can never underestimate the reach of our games and their commercial value.
DERRY (Stephen Barker)
Our development plan has been in place for a number of years with successive minor teams coming to the fore. To advance this strategy we intend to seek to increase the number of GPOs in the county operating a matched funding model. This is obviously dependent on central funding in the same way as other counties currently operate.
DONEGAL (Mick McGrath)
Certain counties do not have the same sponsorship opportunities as others. Coaching grants have not been distributed in a fair and equal manner. Outside county and internal county travelling for team training is an extremely costly disadvantage to western seaboard counties in comparison to highly populated counties.
DOWN (John Devaney)
This certainly needs to be considered. Again, it’s not about stripping Dublin of the advantages that they just happen to have over others. I acknowledge that Dublin has a much bigger playing population (we all have a lot to learn from how they have made the most of those advantages over the past 10-15 years), but we can’t simply distribute coaching and games and other funding in the same way as we have been. Dublin now set a high bar, and there is a wider expectation among others that we have to invest to match that. The GAA is still a collective (or at least we like to think so), and other counties are struggling. Dublin’s capacity to attract and generate sponsorship is naturally far greater than any other county, and that also has to be taken into account.
DUBLIN (Michael Seavers)
Dublin management committee await the definitive list of motions that will be discussed at Congress later this month and, until such time, I will not be in a position to disclose our views on any of the topics raised. I have my own thoughts on the motions but, as chairperson, I feel it would be inappropriate of me to comment on any of the questions you pose before members of management discuss them.
GALWAY (Pat Kearney)
Yes would be too simplistic an answer but I suppose after Covid, etc, all funding will have to be re-evaluated and prioritised. The ‘matching funds’ model in Dublin sees each GAA club pay 50pc of a coach’s salary, and something similar is required for all counties – but we need a different model for smaller rural-based clubs.
KERRY (Tim Murphy)
Every county board is financially challenged at present but a conversation around the costs of preparing inter-county teams vis-a-vis training, travel, overnights, etc. would be welcome.
KILDARE (Mick Gorman)
Expenditure on games development for any county is crucial and should never be neglected. As far as Dublin is concerned, perhaps the real question to be addressed is how central funding is used across all areas of Dublin city/county. For instance, might the clubs and schools of certain disadvantaged areas or places where participation is very low, be more deserving of a greater share of Dublin’s allocation of central funding? The city’s and county’s natural advantages in population and finances have been well-used by Dublin to attain their current dominant status. Dublin have set the bar for the rest of the counties. At the end of the day, the allocation and monitoring of central-funding for coaching and games development should be handled by the bodies best-informed to do so – ie the Leinster Council and/or Croke Park.
LAOIS (Peter O’Neill )
Dublin have massive funding opportunities at the moment so while that is the current case central funding should be looked at and provided where it is needed most. Dublin have done a brilliant job in their coaching structures and should be commended and copied where possible and nothing should be done that would undermine this progress.
LEITRIM (Enda Stenson)
It has to happen. Most clubs in Dublin have access to more finance to put into coaching and games development than a county like Leitrim or any of the smaller counties. That’s where it starts, coaching and games development.
I’d hate it to come across as anti-Dublin. It’s not anti-Dublin. But they don’t even have to think about walking 50 miles in January (Leitrim fundraiser that generated €100,000) to support their projects and finances. We have only two Games Development Administrators (GDAs). If we got at least double that they could get around all the underage clubs and schools on a more regular basis.
It’s only fair that all our underage players get the same level of coaching as anybody else. We have a very good plan for 10 years but it’s going to take funding and we’re not going to be able to go out and get that funding. Our clubs are some of the smallest units and could not support that (contribution) model. You’re just looking at a different scale.
LIMERICK (John Cregan)
I have no issue with the money that they got. They got it at a time when they were down on their luck. They are obviously able to complement it with commercial revenue.
LONGFORD (Albert Cooney)
The reason Dublin get large funding for coaching and games is because of the huge number of underage players in the county. If cuts are made to this area, it would be important that it does not have any effect for the future. When making cuts to other funding, ability to earn sponsorship should be the deciding factor. There are a number of counties, not only Dublin, who have been very successful raising large sums of money, yet they receive the same level of central funds as counties less successful. I would suggest a graded system based on history and levels of success raising funds. Less successful counties graded as disadvantaged, and extra supports directed to those counties with full accountability and proof of value for money each year.
In addition, all county teams should be restricted to certain criteria, such as size of training squad, number of management and backroom team and level of spend.
This system to be put in place by authorities and monitored rigidly, and stiff penalties applied where rules are broken. In doing so it might help to close the gap between the strong and weak, improve levels of entertainment from our national games.
LOUTH (Peter Fitzpatrick)
I wouldn’t like to be taking money away from Dublin. I think we should go away ourselves and look for more money, generate more sponsors and see can more money be generated by Croke Park for the purpose of coaching and games development when Covid is suppressed.
MAYO (Liam Moffatt)
The financial challenges of running county boards remains a significant task, accentuated by the impacts of Covid-19. Mayo GAA would welcome a thorough discussion of both the funding and operational costs experienced by all inter-county GAA units.
MEATH (John Kavanagh)
I think some of the clubs in Dublin have shown a capacity to generate substantial revenue through membership, and other means, which has facilitated their ability to employ more than one full-time GPOs (Games Promotion Officers) in their club. This would indicate that they are self-sufficient and have the capability to self-fund full-time personnel. The central funding has been in many ways successful, and has grown Gaelic games participation in the county exponentially. The plan has worked but I believe it is now time to redirect some of the funding and allocate it to counties not only in games development but also in areas of specific expertise, such as commercial, marketing, ddministration. Croke Park could use a shared service model across counties of similar size.
OFFALY (Michael Duignan)
Absolutely, I think there’s no doubt about it. I don’t know anybody that’s arguing about the investment in Dublin GAA when it was made but they don’t need it any longer as far as I’m concerned. They have a huge model there now, they have a huge ability to raise money for sponsorship and resources, they have way more staff than anyone else.
There’s clubs in Dublin, not all clubs – I know there are clubs struggling financially as well – doing really well. We lost our strength and conditioning coach, David Hare, he’s gone to a club in Dublin, St Jude’s, and that’s covered by the club and that’s the reality of where we are now.
ROSCOMMON (Brian Carroll)
First of all, I would say this can’t be seen as an anti-Dublin campaign. Dublin were struggling but got their act together, worked on coaching, got financial help and are now an extremely attractive brand which stimulates increased funding through sponsorship. They have worked hard to put proper structures in place. I believe funding for coaching and games should be reviewed on an annual basis with each county assessed each year on coaching and underage development. Where a county is struggling with coaching results, funding needs to be increased to assist the county and the more successful counties funding reduced. The successful counties would be in a better position to raise their own funding. Money isn’t everything when it comes to coaching; having the right structures and right people involved is worth more than money in most cases.
SLIGO (Seán Carroll)
I’d look at it the other way around. I would have always believed sponsorship should be pooled or at least a proportion of it pooled and divided out among all counties. However, there’s no Dublin team to fund if there aren’t the other counties for them to compete against. I understand the logic behind the coaching and games funding and wouldn’t favour cutting it, but I’d support clubs outside Dublin (perhaps grouped in twos or threes) getting the chance to hire a
part-funded GPO like Dublin clubs can.
TIPPERARY (Joe Kennedy)
A greater level of funding for coaching and games development in other counties would obviously be welcome. But preferably not by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Dublin has a huge population. They have a massive number of players to cater for. It’s a delicate balance. Ideally, the GAA post-Covid will deliver funds for GDAs and coaches by raising more finance, rather than cutting any county’s share.
WESTMEATH (Frank Mescall)
It’s very important that we have a strong GAA in our capital city but, having said that, we do support a partial redistribution of Dublin’s games development funding to other counties. The East Leinster Project is being extended to counties like Westmeath, Offaly, Laois; we definitely support that, while not taking everything away from Dublin.
WEXFORD (Micheál Martin)
I believe to make the games development funding issue about one county is a mistake. First and foremost, I would emphasise that I believe that the Sport Ireland funding towards GAA games gevelopment is in need of a significant increase. Gaelic games are our national games and are designated within the primary school curriculum as requiring “particular consideration”. Therefore, the provision of coaching within our schools and communities should be a cornerstone of any sporting policy by government.
The overwhelming majority of games development funding has been provided by the GAA at central level. With the advent of the GPO scheme, clubs and counties have provided further funding. All of this is done with the primary aim of supporting schools and ensuring children are given the opportunity to play our games. We have complimented these coaching programmes with additional well-being initiatives which are hugely important in the current climate.
Before we have a conversation about reducing funding to any county, we should explore how we can increase funding to service the needs within each county. Wexford GAA in conjunction with our clubs, Wexford Co Council and Leinster GAA have invested heavily in coaching and games in the last three years. This has resulted in a significant increase in participation – as high as 200 per cent in some places.
As stated at the outset, player development is our number one priority, we will look to continue that investment in the coming years and will require significant support from central level to do so.
WICKLOW (Martin Fitzgerald)
No it’s up to every county to bring there standards up to Dublin level.