Wolfe Tones: Outside boss a blemish on the GAA

Clare club Wolfe Tones na Sionna believe their recommendation to outlaw the practice of clubs hiring outside managers can be “sea-changing” for the GAA.

Wolfe Tones: Outside boss a blemish on the GAA

Their motion, which will be debated at Congress the weekend after next, proposes that a person cannot manage or coach a club team unless they are a registered member of that club.

This would, in effect, end the managerial “merry-go-round” which has become so rampant at club level over the past decade.

Moreover, the recommendation, if passed, would put a significant dent in the prevalence of under-the-counter payments to managers and coaches operating at club level.

“You can’t blame someone who is approached by another club as there is no rule within the GAA that stops clubs from approaching outsiders and outsiders saying yes to working with a club they are not registered with,” said Wolfe Tones na Sionna chairman Michael Riordan.

“What we’re proposing is if someone is approached by a club they’re not attached to, they’d have to get a transfer if they wanted to work with that club.

“There are rules, then, that have to be satisfied for a transfer to be successful.

“This is one of the biggest motions going before Congress. It could be sea-changing for the club scene right across the country.”

A Sunday Times survey, published in December, found the going rate paid to coaches and managers in Clare was €80-€100.

At two sessions a week for nine months of the year, that’s a bill of €7,000.

Of course, this is a nationwide issue, with the same survey identifying certain counties where coaches command €125 a session.

In his recent annual report, GAA director general Páraic Duffy expressed no opposition to the outside manager, rather those who are in receipt of irregular payments.

On the latter point, he said: “I wrote in 2010 that the choice facing the Association was a simple one: Either we do nothing in the certain know-ledge that nothing will change — that in five or 10 years we would still be lamenting the damage to our ethos and values — or we decide that it would be irresolute and defeatist not to confront directly a practice that we proclaim to be a blemish on the Association.

“The choice is the same one now, and the need to address it even greater.”

Connacht Council secretary John Prenty, in his annual report last month, lamented the growing trend of clubs hiring outside managers.

“It is becoming increasingly more difficult for clubs to preserve the amateur status of the Association with the number of payments currently being made and the expectations of players and supporters who demand success. The proliferation of outside coaches and managers is unsustainable.”

Echoing this sentiment, Connacht president Gerry McGovern said: “Clubs must provide team management from within the club and cut the enormous cost of hiring outside team managers, some with very little qualifications. This financial burden cannot be maintained.”

Ensuring that coaches and managers are homegrown is feasible, according to Wolfe Tones na Sionna chairman Riordan.

“The GAA, in fairness to them, run so many courses to coach and upskill the coaches. Then you have the [games development officers] that all the counties have, all trying to coach people in the clubs to be able to coach themselves.

“What we’re looking to ensure is the money that clubs are working hard to collect, such as the volunteer selling lotto tickets at the weekend, is staying within the club for the future development of that club.

“What’s happening at present is an animal that is only going to get worse and worse unless a solution is found.”

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