Team Bonding and all the other things that cost a fortune


#1

This issue cropped up on the Walsh Cup page but the discussion does not belong there.

My issues with Cunningham are manyfold but this one is not exclusive to him and I was not having a go at him alone.

It is evident to anyone who can see that a huge industry has grown up in the GAA which consumes a vast amount of money and which many, many people are actually quite dependent on for a living. Far beyond the actually very few administrators (for the size of the GAA, and who by and large do a very good job) you have coaches, physios, psychologists, dieticians,statisticians, doctors initially and then out beyond that people working in army camps and adventure centres, hotels, restaurants, transport companies and so on and so forth that are consuming an increasing amount of a not infinite pool of money.

The GPA has been getting more and more money in recent years from the GAA yet team preparation costs are spiralling ever upwards. The GPA have now hit the jackpot and will claim more than 10% of the GAA’s entire income next year for inter county players. And that is entirely outside what counties will spend on the preparation of their teams which, I believe, ain’t going to come down.

And all of this is going on at a time when people are voting with their feet and not going to games. Championship attendances are declining precipitously. The standard of football is poor and does not justify the ever increasing amounts being spent on it. Which is exactly why we have the money spinning groups (possibly) next year.

My issue is that there is huge, huge waste in the GAA and it simply has to stop. The great failure of people like Sean Kelly, Liam O’Neill, Christy Cooney and O’Fearghail is that they have done absolutely nothing to stop this.

For the first time in my life I am actually worried about where the GAA is going. I am not worried about professionalism because there’s so much money being paid to non players that there’s little enough left for them. But the point of no return is approaching very quickly. The Club Players Association could create a lot of waves for the good but if the GAA sets up against them then God knows what will happen.

One thing is for sure, spending vast amounts of money on things that have little obvious impact has to stop. Army camps for a group of lads, the vast majority of whom are only there because of Cuala,s adventures and injuries (Dublin) or five days “training camp” in London (Mayo footballers last year). This kind of shite has to be done away with.

I’m just wondering how much longer the average club member will continue to pay his subs for this.


#2

Absolutely agree. The GAA is on the wrong road. The GPA should be rowing in behind player welfare, insisting on an off season and limits to intercounty team training. Instead we have scholarships and colleges teams taking players from their clubs. 98% of players don’t play intercounty and are treated like shit by the GAA. The ratio of training sessions to matches is a joke. Hurling has not meaningfully spread across the 32 counties. Football is still in charge in most counties and clubs. The GAA is amazing in many ways but we appear to have forgotten that the games are our culture and are meant to be pastimes as opposed to work. If a line isn’t drawn in the sand soon, it will be too late, if it isn’t already!


#3

I’ve said for years the GAA doesn’t give 2 hoots about clubs as long as Croke Park is full in August/September. Throw in the couple concerts a year adds more revenue. Club players are left idle for months and then when club championship is played its blitzed off in weeks.


#4

The GAA do insist on an intercounty close season. It runs from the date a team finishes in the All Ireland Championship until December 8th (teams knocked out early) and December 29th (teams knocked out in August / September). Teams cannot train collectively during the close season. It is worth nothing that most players do some gym work in that time to stay reasonably fit rather than shut down completely and have to resume training in December from a point of absolute unfitness.
The point that club players have to wait around all year without games is a myth. There are plenty of league games going on throughout the year to keep them active. These may not be of the same status as championship but they are competitive games and they are actually played.
The problem with championship is that clubs refuse to play football championship without County Hurlers and vice versa. It’s not that long ago that one prominent Club took DCB to the DRA to get a football championship fixture was fixed during a week when some of their players were involved in a Dublin hurling game called off. The DRA ruled in their favour!! The other reason clubs don’t want to play in the summer is because many of their younger players are away working for their college holidays. It’s a handy excuse to Blaim inter county fixtures for the postponement of fixtures when the truth is that clubs want to be a full strength and will do everything possible to delay fixtures until their “better” players are available.

I am in agreement with Alan O’Connor about the industry which has built up around training camps. Many years ago (in the 50’s) the GAA were forced to introduce a ban on collective training where teams went into camp in the weeks leading up to big games. Maybe it’s time to look at what is happening now. Is it the wedge in the door to professionalism?


#5

The inter county closed season is unenforced. Certainly it was breached recently and by more than one county.

Your comments on league games are exactly what I am talking about. Twenty years ago there would be hundreds if not sometimes over a thousand people at league games. Now inter county players are basically banned from playing in them and they are no more than glorified friendlies now. There would be no issue playing games in the summer if all inter county players were available to their clubs on a regular basis.

The phrase “the players will be released back to their clubs” which you often hear from inter county managers when the leagues are over, makes me want to smash my radio but it captures the problem perfectly. The county manager is in charge and the vast majority of them cannot be reasoned with.

And the industry is more than just training camps. There are many, many people with county teams now all year, and the vast majority of them are getting top dollar for their time.

This is what has to change.


#6

The National Leagues and Provincial / All Ireland Championships have been around for 100 years or more. Because of their importance to the GAA in terms of promotion of the games and finance etc I think we can agree that there is no prospect of them being closed down at this point in time. That means that seven months or so of each year have to be set aside for inter-county fixtures whether we like it or not. We all want a two to three month close season as well, which,when you add the two together, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for a club only season.
Rather than us all continually bemoan the way inter-county fixtures are impacting on club fixtures at the moment can we not suggest how a better balance might be achieved. In doing that we must consider that Dublin have expectations of at least reaching the All Ireland quarter finals in both games every year and that many players, including some on the inter county panels, wish to play hurling and football with their club. Also to be considered is that club leagues must have at least 12 games per team and championships between 3 and 6 - that applies to both games and so all rounds should be on different dates to allow for dual players.

Under the current calendar year set up I can see no room for improvement ( I think playing All Ireland finals in July / August would be suicide from a promotional point of view - as club games do not capture the public imagination in the same way as inter county games - in handing over TV and media sports coverage unchallenged to other sports).
The old system of starting National Leagues in October / November opened up more time for club games (on alternative weeks) and a September to June club season tied in with that. The club championships could be played in April, May and June as used to be the case.
The other change that must be brought in is that a player cannot play both senior and under 21 at county level.He must play with one or other but not both. The under 21 team has to be considered as a reserve team and counties cannot be expected to have their best players available for all teams if they are required by a higher team.


#7

Revenue

Club game = none

county game = drives the revenue

Without revenue you have nothing

County game rules. He whro pays the piper calls the tune. This utopian vision that somehow the clubs are going to wrest control back from the counties is hogwash in my opinion. Take the county players out of it and the club players can play whenever they want.

Its basic economics has proposed by Adam Smith in the 17th century.


#8

Board delegate, you are living up to your name with the ‘It’s been here for 100 years and we can’t change now’ argument. And ‘Under the current calendar year set up, I can see no room for improvement’. May I ask, are you actually a board delegate? You said earlier that there were plenty of matches for players. Not true in the slightest. The ratio of training sessions to competitive matches in the GAA for both club and county players is scandalous.
There are ways to improve the situation. Get rid of cup competitions. Play the intercounty leagues between Jan and March. Play provincial championships (which are almost a joke in many cases, expenses for the provincial officers) on a knock out basis in April/May and play All Ireland Championship between June and August. Ban replays across the GAA. Any remaining Club competitions only from Sept til year end. Ultimately the provincial championships will have to go as they are illogical and inequitable.


#9

The issue is not money coming in. People will go to championship games and league games and the money will roll in. They won’t even care about the standard. Which is exactly why a hundred or more training sessions to play twelve odd games over eight months is ludicrous. That is what has to change.

And there would be a lot less need for money if various assorted hangers on weren’t bleeding counties dry with their so called expertise.

David Fitzgerald has THREE strength and conditioning coaches in Wexford.

That’s lunacy.

Any weekend a player isn’t playing for his county he should be available to his club. That’s the way it was for a hundred years!!! Why did we change???


#10

Alan it’s not the players who is not playing for his county that is the problem. It’s the player who is!!
Your club refuse to play hurling Championship without Diarmuid Connolly. Go to your Club AGM with a motion to play county championship games without players who are playing with Dublin and your arguments on this tread might hold up. As a club member you are entitled to do that.
To Iomaint would you not agree that it is inconceivable that the GAA would do away with the Leagues and Championships. They are the shop window of the Association and are what fund it. Hard fact of life - no money no nothing!
To do away with the TV promotion that the All Ireland’s give in August and September each year would kill the future of the GAA. Kids play what they see on TV and that is a fact. Look what happens every summer on the streets and in the parks during Wimbledon.


#11

I believe it is inevitable that we will do away with the provincial championships. I believe this will happen, not for the right reasons, but because of money. People will stop turning up to see teams hammered and the sages in Croke Park will be forced to tell their provincial counterparts that the game is up. We cannot continue to pit Leitrim against Mayo, Carlow against Dublin etc and as for hurling, there is only one provincial championship of any consequence, which is farcical.

As for money, we paid off Croker a few years ago. All corporate income is now profit. Surely we are not stuck for money in the GAA.?


#12

The money is required for more things than paying for Croker. Games promotion for instance. What funds GPOs, club grants, other county grants etc. That is where the money is required and its main provider is through match revenue and TV revenue. If you reduce inter county games are reduced in number it follows that revenue is reduced to.


#13

Once again missing the point. This is not a single club issue. It is a nationwide issue.And they did play without him this year, a winner take all game which they lost.

Why should my club, or indeed any club, have to play without a player that it requires for a championship game, even in another code? What exactly is the core ethos of the GAA? What is the only way you can be a member of the GAA?

If anything I would be looking to get a motion passed that states that once a player is not playing a game for the county on a given day (with maybe a six day window at most between games) then he is available for his club.

The promotion thing is nonsense. It would be far more beneficial to the promotion of the game for young lads to see their county players regularly around the club and playing for the club. Especially in smaller clubs where there might be only one inter county panelist. Kids are overwhelmed with sport on TV twelve months a year yet there have never been more kids playing games in Dublin than there are now. There were some huge crowds at championship games in Dublin this year. How much better would they be if played in the best weather of the year and during the day instead of under lights?

We have to stop wrapping players in cotton wool and removing them from their clubs for the first nine months of the year. There does not have to be less games but less training and a shorter season are essential. The fear of losing because a player might get injured playing a club game is now what dictates everything in the GAA. And it has to stop.


#14

One is for his ego.


#15

Alan not too long ago it was suggested that the championship structure be restructured with one of the consequences being players be more available to play with their clubs and you suggested, pretty dismissively, that it was change for the sake of change


#16

The only change needed is to remove the dictatorial power of inter county managers. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The GAA have been fiddling and foostering with changes to inter county for two decades now and it’s only getting worse. From a club point of view maximum availability of players is what’s needed. They’ve made such a mess of the inter county thing now it’s unlikely they will ever fix it.


#17

It’s called evolution when you’re trying to compete with professional sports.

Evolve or die.

We used to go to work on a horse a hundred years ago too. Then they invented cars

Nobody died


#18

Sorry Alan but the structure and timings of the current competitions are at the heart of the problem. Everything is planned around that foundation.

I read a stat recently (not sure on the exact detail) along the lines of, 25% of county teams will play 25% of their competitive matches for the year in a week in January.

Change the county structure and timing, then implement a proper club structure around it which facilitates players playing for their clubs and also takes the power away from the 64 odd county managers who are dictating the playing of matches and, by default, the personal lives of thousands of club players.


#19

It’s a lot simpler to take county players out . The idea that regular county players are going to return to play regularly to AFL1-3 in front of Trigger and Del Boy on a Sunday morning really is a fantasy that will not be fufilled in my view.

Fight a battle that can be won - not one that’s destined to be lost. The CPA is not recognised by the GAA and from I can see has no clear mandate. The GAA cannot condense the inter county season with the Premiership and Leinster Rugby and everything else


#20

Think was Johnny Magee said Wicklow will play 3 games the first week in January and potentially 2 Championship games in summer.