New York GAA chair Joan Henchy: We are tired of being treated as 'a cash cow' for fundraisers

'It’s over, it’s done, we’re tired — New York is first and we have to look after ourselves'
New York GAA chair Joan Henchy: We are tired of being treated as 'a cash cow' for fundraisers

After the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) last year agreed to give some of the money they raise there to New York GAA, county boards too will have to pay to stage fundraising events in New York as a mark of respect.

New York GAA chairperson Joan Henchy says counties in future will be expected to provide a percentage of funds raised in the city towards the native county board.

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) last year agreed to give some of the money they raise there to New York GAA, county boards too will have to pay to stage fundraising events in New York as a mark of respect.

An understanding which is also set to apply to other US cities, Henchy says counties had been getting away without showing recognition to New York GAA for too long.

“We’ve brought this to the attention of Central Council,” she told The Long Hall podcast. “We’ve discussed this at length. It’s USGAA as well. Counties are coming in here and it is like cash cow.

“There’s no recognition of our board, there’s no recognition of us included, the GPA included and it’s okay to take money out of here and you offer crumbs. ‘Oh, we’ll send you two All-Star players there and they’ll spend an hour coaching your kids and that’s okay. We’re just going to take $500,000 out of a function downtown.’

“No, it’s over, it’s done, we’re tired — New York is first and we have to look after ourselves. And if they are coming out here and they do want to fundraise they should enter into negotiation with us and a percentage of that funding should be given back to our board to put where we feel it’s needed to go.”

The Tarbert woman continued: “I don’t know if you can impose a rule on a monetary level, but it’s respect. It’s like going home and standing at home, walking in the door of Cork city and doing a massive fundraiser… ‘Yay, we’re here. We take it all the way back to New York and you’re in the middle of building your own facility in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and killing yourselves trying to make ends meet. We wouldn’t do it to another county.

“I have no problem supporting Kerry. If they were doing a fundraiser or my own club, even at home, I support them. But taking it away from the county here? Taking it away from our kids and our our future and our development? 

That’s where lies my concern with that and you know, that it’s just like, ‘We need to raise €500,000. Let’s just go to New York.’

Henchy would be offended by any county trying to fundraise in New York right now as the GAA there deals with the effects of the pandemic.

“Anyone who would try and come in and raise money in New York right now, I would say shame on you.

“Please give the people here an opportunity to regain their footing, to regain their own livelihoods and to get back on our feet and give us a chance to breathe here. And we’ll go back to the table then. But please give us some time for the foreseeable future. New York got hit harder than most.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Henchy recalls confronting a number of teenagers who broke into Gaelic Park to play Gaelic football during the first lockdown last year.

“Two heads just dropped and the tears welled up and they were like, ‘We did not know where else to go. We just needed to come home.’ And it was just about what was normal for them, what was comfortable for them, what they considered to be home, safe, secure.

“It’s where they wanted to be and they had an O’Neill's (ball) with them and all they were doing was kicking the ball around and it broke my heart to get into the car. And I cried the whole way home.”

- Joan Henchy’s full interview can be heard here

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