Galway GAA braced for audit findings

Current and former senior Galway GAA officials are bracing themselves for the release of a potentially explosive internal audit into the finances of the county board.

County sources have confirmed a copy of the report, ordered by treasurer Mike Burke who was appointed last year and also formed part of the audit committee, has been sent to Croke Park and they have responded with feedback to the county executive. Senior GAA officials are also understood to have conducted interviews with those who have and had financial oversight responsibilities.

The matter is of primary concern to Central Council to whom Galway have been servicing a €3.1m loan after the purchase of the 103-acre site in Mountain South outside Athenry, bought for €2.5m in 2008 and available this year for €750,000.

The findings of the audit conducted into broad financial administration affairs are believed to be significant and could have major ramifications for the governance of Gaelic games in the county.

The work of the audit group has focused on areas from local sponsorship agreements to expenses. Burke is expected to furnish clubs with details of the internal audit at the next county board meeting, which is likely to take place next week. It’s been three months since the last monthly meeting took place.

There was an agreement that the release of the audit would be delayed so as not to upset the Championship pursuits of Galway inter-county teams but Burke is now prepared to release the details.

Clubs are eager to learn what Burke reveals given they have been paying levies in recent years to support the board after the aborted Mountain South project. In 2013, it was reported by Galway chief executive John Hynes that the board was €3.9m in debt. Its 2017 accounts showed a surplus of €418,000 and the two Ed Sheeran concerts in Pearse Stadium in May should help to ensure a healthy situation again this year.

Last year, a report commissioned by county chairman Pat Kearney revealed “serious deficiencies” in cash handling procedures at venues across Galway. A lack of transparency was found in several situations while in one case the gate receipts collected from one fixture were not lodged into a bank account until three months later. The report was prompted by the decision of the Duggan Park Development Committee to resign in protest in early 2017.

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