Massive rise in team costs for Connacht's gang of five
Connacht counties increased their spending on inter-county team preparations by more than one-third in 2016, audited figures show.
The figures, presented to conventions at the end of last year, point to an almost 36 per cent spike in what was laid out for all inter-county teams in the province.
From just over €3.63m in 2015 the cost of running teams in the five counties (excluding London and New York who participate in the senior football championship) was €4.93m.
Three of the five counties spent in excess of €1m each with Mayo recording the biggest jump to €1,632,488, up from €880,316 in 2015.
That's an increase of over 80 per cent, year-on-year, but the All-Ireland final replay, a nine-game championship run involving five games in Dublin and All-Ireland U-21 football success, a Nicky Rackard Cup win in June and an All-Ireland U-21 'B' championship appearance in September all fed into much higher costs. There was also a €160,000 carry-over of unpaid bills from 2015 to 2016.
Even allowing for that, though, Mayo's figures are high for a county without a Liam MacCarthy Cup hurling team, the second biggest outlay on a county's teams, according to official figures.
Only Dublin in 2011, when they were pursuing All-Ireland success in five competitions into August and September when they contested four All-Ireland finals, have topped it with €1.78m spent that year.
But the figure to run the team doesn't appear to have put any additional pressure on the Mayo balance sheet and they can point to very healthy income figures leaving the board with an €87,329 surplus after taking in over €1.4m in commercial income and fundraising activities.
Some 62 per cent of the overall figure went on preparations for the senior football team who played their opening Connacht Championship match in London where they remained on for a further five days for a training camp.
Headline figures for catering, medical costs and equipment for all teams were all up very significantly.
Like Mayo, Roscommon also broke the €1m barrier for the first time, coming in with €1,074,000 for the running of their inter-county teams, a rise of €332,000 on 2015.
Their senior footballers were back in Division 1 and had trips to Cork, Kerry and Donegal, as well as their Connacht Championship opener in New York which obviously soaked up a lot of income. Roscommon treasurer Seamus Maher outlined to their convention that the senior team's budget would drop by €200,000 in 2017.
Galway have remained well above the €1m mark with the costs at €1,362,093, an increase of €117,000 on 2015.
The senior footballers absorbed €486,415 while €426,397 was required to oil the senior hurling machine.
Even Leitrim were forced to take on more costs in 2016, jumping €53,844 to €378,101. Only Sligo were able to keep their spending on inter-county teams in check, a modest €10k rise on their €475,000 in 2015.
Last year Connacht Council secretary John Prenty used his report to highlight what he felt was an "unsustainable" level of spending, pointing to the overall figure being five times the gate receipts taken in for the Connacht championships. Galway hurl in the Leinster Championship, however, while the costs incurred in travelling to Dublin are higher.
The increase in spending figures is nowhere near as sharp in the other three provinces and in some cases has dropped on 2015 figures but will still come in above the €22m total in 2015.
Dublin have topped the official inter-county spending charts every year since 2011, primarily because of the success of their senior football team in prolonging their season until the end of September.