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Mayo the big spenders: This graph breaks down each county's costs in 2016


Mayo ahead of the All Ireland final

Mayo ahead of the All Ireland final

The Mayo team stand together before the drawn 2015 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

The Mayo team stand together before the drawn 2015 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

John Prenty Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

John Prenty Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE


Mayo ahead of the All Ireland final

When Connacht Council secretary John Prenty sits down to script his annual report to convention each year, the sense of deja vu at this stage must be all too palpable.

Earlier this year he asked a simple question in his latest missive.

"Are we mad?"

He was, of course, returning to a familiar theme, the amount of money counties spend on preparing their inter-county teams.

Last year Prenty fired off a stern warning as the five Connacht counties (not including London and New York) went over the €3.6m mark for all inter-county preparations, covering hurling and football in all grades and even including the financing of development squads.

"Obviously, all of the meetings we held with the county officers had a major effect on their budgets," reflected Prenty wryly as he explained how Connacht counties added a further €1.3m to their spend, taking it to €4.9m.

For the first time, Roscommon joined the 'millionaire's club,' chalking up bills of €1,074,000 to run their team affairs and making it three Connacht teams among the six to pass the €1m mark.

Out on their own for 2016 were Mayo, who had a carry-over from 2015 of around €150,000 accounted for in their 2016 figures and also had Nicky Rackard Cup and All-Ireland U-21 B hurling finals to cater for.


But their €1.6m figure is the second highest ever accumulated by a county, with only Dublin in 2011, when they were pursuing four All-Ireland titles into the month of August that year, reaching higher with €1.75m. Running the senior footballers accounted for 62pc of that Mayo figure for 2016.

That said, Mayo's overall finances were in decent shape and with the rise in spend by their county teams came a big increasing in fundraising revenues too. Sponsorship was €478,141 with Cairde Mayo generating €638,396, helping to put a fair dent into overall costs.

Prenty has, however, warned that counties are "living beyond their means and face an almost monthly challenge to keep all of their creditors satisfied".

Overall many counties managed to keep their spending on their inter-county teams in check and the increase was 5.13pc, entirely due to the rise in Connacht.

Leinster counties cut back on 2015 while Ulster also came in with a lower figure but a weaker sterling, post-Brexit, has possibly accounted for a fall of around €200,000.

The 5.13pc increase on 2015 is in keeping with recent trends. After dipping to €18.5m in 2011, when counties were forced to tighten their belts due to the recession, the overall figure has been rising steadily since, up some 26pc in five years.

Naturally, given their success, Dublin have been the biggest spenders this decade with an outlay of €10.8m since 2010. Only Cork come close to that.

The €23.31m relates to audited figures that appear as they as they are presented at annual conventions. They do not account for third-party payments or probable 'off the books' payments which spiral the costs considerably.

Yet for all the concern raised about the increasing costs, the inter-county game is still by far the GAA's chief financial driver.


Gate receipts, predominantly for inter-county games under the direction of Central Council (all except those in provincial championships), accounted for 50pc of the GAA's €60m annual turnover.

Commercial revenues, covering sponsorship and media rights, the majority of which are directly linked to the inter-county game, were at €19m.

Counties like Limerick, Wexford and Longford managed to get a handle on their team expenses after spiking considerably in 2015.

Kerry came in at just under €1m for the second successive year but again, words of caution were expressed at their annual convention by their treasurer Dermot Lynch. Medical bills in the Kingdom were around €200,000 but the Board have now brought in medical partners, Alliance.

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