Galway chairman Kearney: Paid staff necessary, but volunteers must remain in control

Although acknowledging the strain on volunteer officers, Galway GAA chairman Pat Kearney is opposed to county boards being taken over by paid staff.

Galway chairman Kearney: Paid staff necessary, but volunteers must remain in control

Although acknowledging the strain on volunteer officers, Galway GAA chairman Pat Kearney is opposed to county boards being taken over by paid staff.

Chiming with the views recently expressed by his Cork and Kerry counterparts, Tracey Kennedy and Tim Murphy, Kearney believes the demands placed on volunteer county board officers are reaching unsustainable levels.

One of the solutions put forward by Kennedy, in lightening the load of volunteers, was to increase the number of full-time staff within each board. Kearney accepts this is an inevitability, but stressed that volunteers must not become the minority in the make-up of a county board executive.

“The GAA is unrecognisable from what it was five years ago. Club and county officers are being asked to be experts in every field, to know how to deal with every situation, situations that we are probably not trained in, haven’t experience in, or haven’t the time [for],” remarked Kearney.

“It is pretty onerous as the book stops with the chairman. You are dealing with professional backroom teams, physios, and doctors; you are meeting their demands. If they contact you with something, you have to respond to that immediately. Everybody wants something done now, not in ten minutes time.”

Kearney added: “There has been a bit of talk about the ‘Towards 2034’ report, that group wanted a paid operations manager and finance manager in each county.

It is moving towards that, but there has to be controls over that because we are a volunteer organisation and so the volunteers always have to be in control.

Despite the ever-increasing workload, Kearney was determined to hold onto his position and see out his five-year term in the face of a challenge from businessman Mick Culhane at Monday’s convention. The incumbent edged the contest by 146 votes to 110.

“ I was anxious to finish the whole compliance and governance issues that we have smouldering away there for the last couple of years.”

Elsewhere, in the McGrath Cup and Co-op Superstores Munster Senior Hurling League, it was yesterday confirmed that Cork’s home game in either pre-season competition will take place in Mallow.

Cork’s Munster SHL opener against Kerry was initially scheduled for this evening (Wednesday 18) at Páirc Uí Rinn, but will now take place this Friday (Mallow, 7.30pm).

In the McGrath Cup, which has a post-Christmas start, Cork’s home fixture against Tipperary on Thursday, January 2, will be staged in Mallow (7.30pm).

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