GAA unsure how to spend Croker cash

THE GAA has yet to decide how the rent monies earned from Sunday’s Six Nations match — and the fixtures to come at Croke Park — will be spent but there is no shortage of suggestions from members nationwide.

The financial implications of opening up the stadium to rugby and soccer played little part in the various debates at Congress but the decision has handed the GAA a massive influx of funds.

The GAA are believed to have pocketed approximately €1.5m from the Ireland-France match at the weekend with three more internationals to come before the end of the March.

Despite concerns over the planning procedure with Lansdowne Road, it would still be a major surprise if the two rival codes are not again accommodated at Croke Park over the next two years.

That amounts to a serious cash injection for the bean counters in the GAA but, as of yet, there does not appear to have been much discussion, if any, as to how the income will be allocated.

“It was always the intention that the money would go back towards projects within the GAA, notwithstanding the stadium, but that will be a matter for Central Council to decide,” said GAA spokesman Fergal McGill yesterday.

Donegal PRO Seamus O’Donnell believes that the monies should be used to help reduce the growing financial demands on counties.

“Speaking purely from a personal viewpoint, I would like to see the money given out to counties to help defray the costs of running their county teams,” said O’Donnell.

“Costs are going sky high every year and any money that can be channelled down to the counties from Croke Park would be a help in dealing with that and relieving the pressures that come with it.”

That view is echoed in numerous county board offices but there are other worthy causes which could make a convincing argument for consideration as well.

Most notable is the area of coaching and development. Many of those opposed to allowing soccer and rugby into Croke Park pointed to the potential such occasions would have for enticing children away from Gaelic games. Using the funds from those fixtures to strengthen the Association’s standing with the younger generations would seem fitting.

With Croke Park itself completed and most county grounds up and down the country well on the way to being modernised, infrastructure is the one area the GAA certainly doesn’t need to prioritise.

“From what I understand, a lot of the money has been ring-fenced for the counties anyway — it won’t just be subsumed into the coffers of the Central Council,” said Westmeath secretary Paddy Collins. “I would imagine that it would go towards the development side of things.

“In this day and age, €1.5m wouldn’t take you far in terms of bricks of mortar anyway and the association is a long way down that road already. We’re well catered for in that sense by now.

‘‘We will probably have a better idea of what to do with (the money) when more of the games are played.”

Meanwhile, it now seems likely that the final standings in Division 1A of the NFL will be decided under the lights in venues in Donegal, Dublin, Tyrone on Cork in early April.

All four counties will enjoy home advantage for the deciding round seven of the competition but a Saturday night throw-in is dependant on the floodlights being erected on time in Balleybofey.

Planning permission was granted earlier last month and it was revealed yesterday that the foundation work will begin this week, prompting officials in the county to express their confidence that all would be ready for the night of April 7th.

If, for some reason, the floodlights are not ready that Saturday the four games will be put back to the following afternoon when the other three divisions are also down for decision.

Donegal will host Fermanagh that weekend in Division 1A, Kerry will travel to Dublin – possibly to Croke Park, Tyrone will welcome Mayo and Limerick will pay a visit to their Munster neighbours Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

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