Páraic Duffy: Our organisation doesn’t want testimonials

GAA director general Páraic Duffy has intimated the association will attempt to ban further testimonials for inter-county players as Colm Cooper prepares to host his later this month.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy.

A new rule would likely be required meaning a motion would be proposed by the GAA’s management committee and Central Council for Congress in Dublin in February.

Speaking to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One yesterday a day after he confirmed he will retire as Ard Stiúrthóir on March 31 next, Duffy said he had sought legal advice when Cooper approached him about the testimonial.

After doing so, Duffy relayed the message to the former Kerry star that he wasn’t breaking any rules.

However, Duffy then said: “I did ask him was he doing the right thing here. I told him the GAA would not be supporting it and we’re not supporting it.”

Cooper’s event on October 27, however, has prompted the GAA to take action so to ensure a precedent isn’t set.

“Under our current rules we cannot prevent such events from happening. Do we need to look at it? Yes, we will look at it. It’s tricky as our current rules don’t allow us to deal with it. We need to look at the rules.

“I’m very clear on this – our organisation does not want testimonials. It’s the message I have got very clearly over the last few weeks. We are an amateur organisation, we don’t reward our players financially.

“In other situations, players may benefit ‘under the counter’ and that’s something we can’t deal with now. This is a public thing.

"It’s there, we have to express our view on it. Our view is we are not going to support it. At a recent management committee meeting, we decided to take some form of legal advice on it.

"It won’t affect this testimonial, but it may have an impact in the future.”

Duffy differentiated between the testimonial and media work such as punditry and autobiographies.

“If you do an autobiography or punditry, you’re not taking funds that could go to the GAA, if you’re holding a major dinner you’re going to the same people to support the dinner or testimonial as you would to support a club event.

“That’s the big concern I would have. Plus the fact that it is against the ethos of the GAA to run a dinner where the individual benefits. We don’t do that.”

Reviewing his work on the amateur status of the GAA and payments to managers, Duffy said he found it “impossible” to get to the bottom of how managers were being paid but highlighted the recession had an effect on the “industry”.

He defended the GAA’s relationship with Sky Sports, insisting that their presence in the media rights stable has bumped the professional standards of RTÉ and said that Sky’s poor viewing figures for championship matches was not the GAA’s “priority goal” but a matter for Sky.

Of the extra Super 8 and provincial hurling games next year, he said that the majority of them will likely be free-to-air.

He dismissed the idea of splitting up Dublin as “nonsense”, pointing out that four of their five All-Ireland SFC titles this decade have come by a solitary point.

He mentioned that addressing cynicism late in games “will have to be looked at”, while he said it is up to the Club Players Association to ensure that those county boards that don’t do enough for clubs are pressurised to ensure fixtures are run properly.

Speaking about his decision to retire in over five months’ time, Duffy felt the time was right to depart. “I was originally contracted for seven years.

That ran out three years ago. And then we agreed to renew the contract, there was no time limit put on it. I always had it in the back of mind that three more years was long enough.

“I feel that 10 years is long enough in the role and that whatever you can do for the organisation if you haven’t done it by now it’s not likely you are going to do it in the future.

"I think it’s a good time to go. It’s good for me and it’s good for the GAA.”


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