Galway’s six-time All-Ireland minor hurling manager Mattie Murphy believes Croke Park have to take their share of the blame for the financial controversy that has rocked the county.
Murphy believes the GAA’s insistence that Galway amalgamate their football and hurling boards in 2012 created a leadership deficit in the county.
While the two codes still have boards, their powers were diminished to organising fixtures and fundraising.
After Central Council took over the loan from Galway for their aborted plan to develop a hurling centre of excellence in Mountain South outside Athenry, Croke Park ordered Galway to restructure their administration structures.
And Murphy believes this move lead to a worrying leadership vacuum in the county.
“Did Croke Park bring this down on their own heads because there was a situation, in that for many years, Galway were unique and the hurling board ran the hurling and the football board ran the football and the county board were figureheads.
“We had a situation with the land, Mountain South, and the issue around that. In hindsight, it’s easy to find scapegoats for that but if we had gone ahead and developed it when it was bought there were enough people with finance at the time who would have funded a bit of it.
“If it had gone ahead immediately after it was bought, we would have a centre of excellence for hurling there now. But we hesitated and expected the good times to get better and the good times went.
“Croke Park looked at us then and decided in their wisdom to take the power off the two boards and put one county board structure in place.”
Murphy can’t see Galway reverting to the two board model - “they were two independent republics and at least there is some structure on fixtures now with the one county board but in terms of finances the hurling people still look after their own gates and the football people still look after their own gates”.
For all the talk about Galway GAA being a €5million-per-annum industry, Murphy worries about the “millstone” of the €2.5m loan to Central Council for Mountain South. The damage the recent controversy has done to Galway’s brand has been significant as much as the bloodletting was necessary.
“We raised quite a bit of money going to America this year but we can’t go to America every year, and I can’t imagine many in America that will be rushing out to fund us now having seen recent developments.
“It wasn’t easy for the incoming treasurer (Mike Burke) this year and if he didn’t bring it to a head this year when was it ever going to come to a head? It was important that he did so and we’ll learn the lessons from it and put structures and policies in place so that it won’t - it can’t - happen again.”
Meanwhile, Clare’s senior footballers have been dealt a blow with news that forward Eoin Cleary is likely to miss the start of their Division 2 campaign, which commences at the end of next month.
The Clare People report the Miltown-Malbay man is facing a “lengthy spell” on the sidelines as he requires a number of months’ rehabilitation on a hand injury. Cleary recently underwent surgery on the setback.
Elsewhere, Paul Beary is no longer in charge of Na Piarsaigh.
The former Limerick coach took over from Shane O’Neill earlier this year and guided the club to their first successful defence of the county championship crown before their unbeaten Munster record was ended by Ballygunner in last month’s provincial final.
The news comes as Limerick manager John Kiely has brought in Clare native Aonghus O’Brien to his backroom team for 2019 following the decision by selector Jimmy Quilty to step aside. O’Brien was Limerick minor coach when they claimed a Munster title five years ago and worked alongside Davy Fitzgerald with the Clare seniors in 2016.