Put players ahead of managers, says Walsh

Former Young Footballer of the Year Tommy Walsh has urged the GAA to scrap any considerations of paying inter-county managers and instead focus on assisting players.

The issue of management payment was raised in a discussion document circulated nationwide by GAA director general Páraic Duffy last month.

However, Walsh, now with AFL giants Sydney Swans, believes Croke Park chiefs could learn from their Australian counterparts when it comes to player welfare.

He said: “Now that I am living in a place where players are looked after so well, even after football, you see a different side to things.

“I am not saying that Gaelic footballers should be paid but a lot more must be done for them. The GAA should look a lot more into helping the players. I don’t mean paying them but increasing their benefits and by introducing different incentives before they go paying managers.

“The players are the product, it’s the players that make the GAA what it is, it’s the players who bring in the money and gate receipts and who fill the jerseys. That’s where the money comes from. If the GAA puts the money back into the players, maybe into the education side of it or maybe setting up some sort of package that they could give the players after football, then that would be far more beneficial than paying managers.

“The GAA needs to look after the players because they are the most important thing and they need to acknowledge that, more than they are doing at the moment.”

Double All-Ireland winner Walsh, now in his third year in the AFL after two seasons with St Kilda, is opposed to the idea of paying inter-county managers, stressing that if this does happen then the GAA are venturing into the unknown.

“It’s a dangerous idea. If you say that you are an amateur organisation and the next thing you say [is] that you are going to pay managers, then basically you are paying everyone except the players.”

Walsh added. “It’s a dangerous road to go down. Obviously it is happening in different ways around the country, that’s no secret. Everybody knows that. If you start paying managers, you are opening up a gate that the GAA might not want to open because who knows what will happen then.”

Meanwhile, Kerry GAA chiefs are against any form of payment to managers.

At Monday night’s board meeting, chairman Patrick O’Sullivan said there was widespread disapproval of the option relating to regularising payments to county or club managers, which was included in Duffy’s document.

O’Sullivan said: “We had a meeting with the clubs regarding the payment to managers discussion document and 27 chairmen showed up. The feedback we got from the meeting is that Kerry clubs are not in favour of paying managers and we will be sending our deliberations to Croke Park as requested by February 24, with some extra points added on to show that we are not completely negative on the subject.

“So we are in favour of Option 2, which basically states ‘the GAA should exercise all its power to enforce its amateur status. A vigilant registration and audit board would be formed to oversee the payments of fees and expenses to inter-county teams and managers’.”

Meanwhile, GAA delegates have also insisted that county team managers should not be paid. County board chairman Paul Kinsella presided over a meeting on Monday evening where opposition to the notion of reimbursing top bosses was overwhelming.

Kilkenny are the latest high-profile county to oppose the idea of paying managers, with the Noresiders adamant that the current rules should be properly applied.

The verdict from Kilkenny is hardly surprising given senior hurling team manager Brian Cody’s stringent views on the topic, which he aired recently.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up