In his report to last year’s Connacht convention, provincial secretary John Prenty accused counties of “living beyond their means”. Moreover, he warned of the implications facing the various boards if spending on inter-county teams was not drastically reined in.
The Connacht Council hierarchy sat down with county officers on several occasions in relation to the amount of money being poured into teams. “Are we mad?” asked Prenty, at the lack of progress made in curtailing team expenses.
The accounts for 2017 would suggest a breakthrough, albeit, a minor one: All counties, bar Sligo, cut costs last year, with total spend on team preparations by the five counties coming in at €4.51m.
This represented a decrease of €419,993 on the 2016 figure. Further tightening of the purse strings is required to return to 2015 levels, when collective costs amounted to €3.6m.
Mayo were again the biggest spenders, with expenses for teams running to €1,514,857. Stephen Rochford’s senior football squad, whose campaign included 10 championship outings, were responsible for €1,123,995 of the total.
A saving of €117k was recorded by comparison with 2016 costs.
Most impressive was the fall in Galway’s team expenses of €66k to €1,295,639. This was achieved, despite the county winning the All-Ireland senior and minor hurling titles, the national hurling league, the Leinster hurling championship, the Division 2 football crown, and Connacht U21 and minor football titles.
Of course, this year-on-year reduction is overshadowed by the significant debt the county still shoulders from their undeveloped Mountain South training centre near Athenry.
Roscommon had been the third county in the province to break the €1m mark in 2016.
However, with the county availing of assistance from GAA headquarters early last year in an effort to improve their financial systems, along with the establishment of an interim finance committee, which included Connacht Council and Croke Park representatives, spending was likely to decrease.
This proved to be the case, with expenses falling by 20% to €860,333.
“My  budget had to go in front of the Croke Park interim finance committee. Everything is being watched here,” Roscommon manager Kevin McStay revealed last month.
“There was certainly a difficulty around [the budget] and you’d prefer if it hadn’t to be that way, but that is where some of the counties are. They are living from week to week, month to month, trying to [survive]. I just don’t see where we, personally, can cut any more corners.”
Sligo’s expenses rose from €484k to €546k in 2017, while Leitrim’s total dropped from €382k to a modest €298k.
Munster counties, as revealed on these pages before Christmas, increased their spending on inter-county team preparations by 11% in 2017.
The six counties spent a combined total of €6.57m readying their teams, a rise of €640k on the previous year’s €5.93m. Four of the six counties (Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Limerick) spent in excess of €1m each.