Success comes at its own expense, says Kerry official

KERRY GAA Secretary Eamonn O’Sullivan has tackled Croke Park over the low level of expenses for stays in Dublin on the weekends of All-Ireland football semi-finals and finals.

Mr O'Sullivan also questions the correctness of the Board handling up to €2m worth of tickets without proper recognition.

The Kerry secretary, who does the job voluntarily, believes it is now time to question the time and expense involved in processing tickets.

"We are delighted to be in the position to avail of tickets right through to the All-Ireland final, but that privilege comes at a cost in time, finance, workload and accountability by mainly voluntary officers," he will tell tonight's Kerry convention.

"In all, there were 14 games in which the office dealt with tickets eight of these involving Kerry. The Ticket Purchase Scheme which brings much-needed revenue takes up most of the time. It also brings problems, as the standard of ticket may not be to the satisfaction of those who invested. However, most people have been understanding in their dealings with the office staff, who did an excellent job in sometimes difficult situations.''

In relation to the successful League and championship campaigns for the senior footballers, Mr O'Sullivan points out that costs incurred in the preparation of inter-county teams at all levels have risen dramatically. This follows a directive from Croke Park on improving conditions for teams, in the areas of travel, gear, medical, tickets, facilities and general back-up.

"This is as it should be for players. Unfortunately, the Croke Park back-up for County Boards has not matched the increased costs involved despite a Congress promise.''

Additionally, he expresses disappointment at "the level of financial support" received for the All-Ireland weekends in Dublin. With two teams involved, the expenses received were far short of what was required.

"From a capacity crowd of 80,000 surely a realistic figure should be available to cover Board costs,'' he said.

Predictably, he devotes special attention in his report to the success of the senior footballers.

"What more could one ask of any team? They set out last October to recapture football glory and 11 months later delivered in style in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. Along the way many questions were asked and answered; new stars were born, experienced players led by example and on and off the field, the role of captain was never more inspirational. Most important of all, pride was restored in the players and Kerry football.

"Manager Jack O'Connor may have taken the position in controversial circumstances but left no one in any doubt at the year's end that the right decision had been made. He united the players, kept them focused on the ultimate prize and, along with his fellow selectors, made the best decisions when injury deprived the panel of its most experienced members Darragh Ó Sé and Seamus Moynihan."

In contrast, he writes that the failure to field a senior hurling team for the All-Ireland pre-qualifier against Down was an embarrassment for the Board. It also undid much of the good work and progress of the past few years.

"The early indication in Phase 1 of the National League suggested Kerry would build on the success of 2003. Once again every support was given to the team in relation to holiday, facilities, gear, gyms and back-up, while Maurice Leahy, Eddie Murphy and their fellow selectors worked tirelessly for the cause. On entering Phase 2 of the League and with the Cork championship game on the horizon, the commitment of some of the players left a lot to be desired. The Cork defeat was demoralising and efforts to get the players focused for the qualifier proved impossible.

"How ironic therefore that subsequent comments attributed to players in the national media, were critical of the support from the Board and the team management but not of the attitude of some players. The future of senior inter-county hurling for Kerry is now a matter for Board, club and player co-operation and commitment that was not there this past year.''

The secretary paid tribute to retiring vice-chairman Jerome Conway, to goalkeeper Declan O'Keeffe on his years of service, and to The Kerryman sports editor John Barry, who retires next May, saying that his contribution to GAA coverage over many years made Kerry the envy of other counties.

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