Should managers be paid

January 24th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

When Padraig Duffy finally presented his discussion document to the GAA management Committee on the payment of managers last Friday week he was certainly opening the proverbial "can of worms" in  a very big way indeed.  On the other hand it has proved a vertical god sent to the media and I have never seen such coverage of a GAA topic since the opening of Croke Park to so called foreign games. The whole topic of payment is getting blanket coverage in press, radio and television and of course the media moguls simply love ever minute of it. And the whole sage is only just beginning.  There is going to be a whole series of Croke Park meetings in relation to Duffy's proposals and I believe it will also rebound right back to the counties, and officials throughout the country can expect to be quizzed closely from delegates on the floor of their county board meetings.

In my discussions with some great die hard servants of the game around the county I have received completely mixed opinions. People seem to be confused as to what is best one way or the other. Should managers of club and county teams receive payment for training teams? It's as simple as that and seeing that it is going on left, right and centre anyway in this county in relation to clubs, not however I am sure are managers of our county teams getting under the table payments, and I must stress this.  One man who is going to bear the brunt of what is going to be a long saga is the incoming President Liam o Neill. Christy Cooney's time as President will come to an end at Easter and its very bad timing, or maybe I should say good timing to land what is a very thorny issue on the lap of the incoming man.

The dogs on the street as they say know full well that intercounty and club managers are getting under the counter payments for training teams. It a well know fact that clubs in this county are paying men from outside the club and indeed within the club to train their teams. This has been going on for a good number of years and whether we like at it or not many hundreds of people, officials, conditioning coaches, video analysist, dieticians, secretaries, sports psychologists, doctors, physios, bus drivers, gate men, right down to the person washing the jerseys are all making a few bob out of the GAA. And not forgetting all the five day a week staff in Croke Park.

The world and all about us continues to change at an alarming rate and like it or not the GAA is changing with it. In my time back in the fifties, sixties and even the seventies and I am conscious of being labeled, "living in the past" their were only a handful getting paid in the association.  In the intervening years I have seen a insidious creeping professionalism take over the association and the bottom line is, the damage has been done, and payments are being doled out all over the place. If a club, and many do, bring in a hightly successful manager/trainer for only a few nights during the season to give their team a gee up then he too will get paid for his travelling and hours on the field. Well known high profile men are travelling the length and breathe of the country to impart their knowledge to clubs and counties even on a smaller scale to what Padraig Duffy has revealed.

Officers of clubs and counties, all decent, honest hard working men are forced to cover up and keep secret the fact that they are paying people to train their teams. So what is going to happen? At the moment I have an open mind on the whole matter. I am certain however that the association will never be fully professional. Solutions are going to be very difficult to find and implement. Counties and clubs I believe need to be allowed bring in the men they believe best for their teams. Outside managers can only be good for the improvement of counties. Where would we be here only for John Myler in hurling, he has done a superb job. There will be massive resistance by many staunch GAA people just as there was for the opening of Croke Park. The question is what method of payment will be acceptable to everyone because as sure as night follows day irrespective what sanctions are implemented these payments will continue one way or the other. In my life time I have seen the GAA ceased being an amateur association a long time ago. It's too late now folks to close the stable door, the horse has well and truly bolted a long time ago.  We will return no doubt to this subject as the drama unfolds. As the fellow said, "It's a great organization to keep going at all".

Fogra: The great thing about the GAA in this county is the fact that there is always some aspect of the association which continues to throw up new previously unknown different fact and figures. At the moment I with a group of dedicated servants of the county are completing a survey of medal winners in the various divisions of Kerry. It's a fascinating project and hopefully we will be able to disclose very shortly on my Radio Kerry Terrace Talk sports programme what individual and families are the holders of the greatest number of medals in their division.  The old adage, "if want something done then ask a busy man" was never more apt than for this project. So I requested the help of five men (no payment demanded) who know their football in their various divisions as good if not better than most, Colm Kelly (Mid Kerry), Junior Murphy (South Kerry), Pat o Brien (East Kerry), Derry Murphy (West Kerry) and Jack Hennessey (North Kerry).  All are checking their facts and figures and when completed we will have a full and broad debate on divisional football, the basis for all that is great and good in this county. So what family we will reveal including father, brother, sons are the holders of the greatest number of divisional medals in this great football county?

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