opinion | 

GAA needs to sort money matters for clubs in all counties

Dublin have reaped rewards from grants but Cork have suffered

Dublin players celebrate with the Sam Maguire Cup in 2020. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

By Sean McGoldrickSunday World

Few topics exercise the minds of newspaper readers more than lists.

Better still, if the subject matter is money and readers believe they have skin in the game.

Last week the Sunday World published a story detailing how GAA plans to reconfigure how they distribute their multi-million euro coaching and development budget.

The project was unveiled last spring but there have been delays. But the GAA’s Finance Director Ger Mulryan indicated the scheme is ‘has now been up and running since October’.

Under the new model, which is based on a variety of metrics around player participation and the number of clubs in each county, Dublin face a cut of nearly half a million euro (€447,978) in their allocation.

By way of context to the article there was a table attached detailing what each of the 32 counties received directly from Croke Park for coaching and development since 2007.

I tweeted this list. It provoked an extraordinary reaction, receiving over 120,000 hits and dozens of comments. It is a topic which provokes much debate on social media, in particular.

Historically, Dublin GAA has done astonishingly well from the fund - receiving over €21m from the over the last 15 years (see Table B).

This was predictable as the scheme was originally established to promote the GAA at underage levels in the capital city and they have a bigger population than any other county.

GAA clubs in the capital literally bought into the project, providing half the money needed to employ Games Promotion Officers.

Over the years the scheme was extended to other counties and Dublin’s allocation fell from a high of €1.6m in 2007 to last year’s total of €1.08m. The next highest recipients, Antrim, were allocated €293,514 in 2022.

Obviously these figures capture the headlines, but it is useful to dig into the detail in order to put them in context.

The funding is specially earmarked for underage coaching so it cannot to used, for example, to fund senior inter-county teams.

One metric for evaluating the impact of the fund is to calculate how much it is worth to every registered youth team in the county (Table A). The figures used to these calculations are published in the GAA’s annual report.

The grants are not distributed this way – the funds are mostly earmarked to pay the salaries of Games Development Officers. However, the figures in Table A underline why the entire model is being overhauled.

There is an astonishing gap between top and bottom.

Dublin again top the charts. In 2022 if their funding of €1.08m was distributed equally among their 1,263 registered youth teams it would have been worth €860.06 to each of them.

In contrast, the corresponding figure for each youth team in Cork would be a paltry €91.41 – the lowest in the country.

Essentially this is because Cork received just €196,250 from the coaching fund but they have 2,145 registered youth teams, which is by far the biggest total in any county.

The smaller counties who have fewer registered youth teams do relatively well with Leitrim, Fermanagh and Longford in third, fourth and fifth place respectively in the table.

But with the exception of Dublin and Antrim the majority of the bigger counties – particularly strong dual counties fare poorly. The six bottom counties in terms of how much the grant is worth for each youth team are Mayo, Waterford, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary and Cork.

The new scheme is designed to address some of these anomalies. It is also important to note that the Provincial Councils - including Britain – now take a hand-on role in delivering a coaching and games development programme to counties.

Last year the provinces were allocated figures of €377,617 (Ulster), €163,669 (Connacht), €230,133 (Munster), €266,243 (Leinster) and €360,521 (Britain) by Croke Park for coach and games development.

The Munster Council recently announced plans to recruit 20 new games development staff. Last year the Leinster Council hired 30 new GPOs.

Nonetheless, all those with an interest in this topic will be pursuing next year’s figures in the GAA’s annual accounts with particular interest.

The million dollar question is whether the great divide can be bridged any time soon.

Table A


Dublin: £860.06; Antrim €762.37; Leitrim: €679.04; Fermanagh: €613.14; Longford: €605.39; Wicklow: €566.56; Derry: €536.73; Roscommon: €509.92; Carlow: €504.78; Donegal:€477.88; Sligo: €470.91; Meath:€466.64; Laois: €454.51; Louth: €451.41 Westmeath: €455.81 Offaly:€433.91; Armagh: £384.29; Monaghan: €363.62 Cavan: €351.25; Kildare: €336.78 Kerry: €336.55 Wexford: €319.57; Clare: €297.75; Tyrone: €282.36; Kilkenny £255.45; Down €240.64; Mayo €193,64; Waterford €187.44; Galway €171.91; Limerick €168.13; Tipperary €161.07; Cork €91.41.

Table B


Dublin €21,837,562; Cork: €2,863,228; Antrim:€2,306,581 Meath: €2,144,924 Derry:€1,908,341 Kildare: €1,996,660 Wicklow: €1,670,476 Louth:€1,643,309 Wexford: €1,631,701 Laois:€1,614,456 Kerry:€1,549,457 Tipperary: €1,546,993 Galway: €1,545,933 Offaly:€1,473,900 Carlow:€1,453,024 Waterford: €1,433,633 Westmeath €1,376,390 Limerick: €1,373,983 Clare: €1,272,084 Roscommon: €1,190,838 Kilkenny: €1,185,852 Donegal: €1,164,467 Cavan: €1,129,955 Armagh: €1,122,002 Mayo: €1,109,474 Monaghan: €1,080,519 Longford: €1,078,295 Sligo: €1,063,830 Leitrim:€1,052,293 Tyrone: €999,189; Fermanagh: €998,496; Down €994,987.

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