Departing Tipp secretary Floyd slams critics of split season

In his final secretary’s report to county convention, Floyd said he finds it galling when pundits and journalists attack the new GAA calendar
Departing Tipp secretary Floyd slams critics of split season

29 February 2020; Tim Floyd, Tipperary County Board Secretary, during the GAA Annual Congress 2020 at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Retiring Tipperary GAA secretary Tim Floyd has hit out at the television pundits and sports journalists who have been critical of the split season and the July conclusion to the All-Ireland series.

In his final secretary’s report to county convention, Floyd said he finds it galling when pundits and journalists attack the new GAA calendar and claim it is giving away the two “best promotion months” of the year, August and September.

Floyd described the introduction of the split season as one of the most positive changes he has seen during his 16 years as Premier secretary.

“It’s impossible to please everybody but the response from our club and inter-county players says it all,” wrote Floyd.

“To have a schedule that clearly defines when your matches are, from start to finish, is a massive step forward as I was always envious of other sports who could present that to their players before the commencement of the season.

“It galls me to hear TV pundits and sports journalists criticise the current system as giving away our best promotion months of August and September. Yes, we are giving it over, but to our clubs who are now enjoying playing our games on the best surfaces in the best weather conditions.

“The GAA is primarily our national sport, and our target audience is mainly on this island with an extended audience of Irish diaspora worldwide. Our club games from July to December are as good a promotional tool when you consider the number of games being played every weekend.

“I sat in the middle of Cork’s Inniscarra supporters in FBD Semple Stadium’s Kinane Stand recently when they played Roscrea in the Munster club championship and their passion and enthusiasm in the middle of a cold November Saturday was a joy to see despite ending in defeat on the day.” 

Semple Stadium features prominently in Floyd’s report, with the outgoing secretary lamenting the falling demand for the venue. He linked this falling demand to the GAA’s habit over many years of developing major stadia “without having a long-term strategic plan”.

Plans for a €10m investment in the Thurles venue have been shelved as Semple Stadium is not on Central Council’s “priority list,” according to Floyd. And without financial backing from Croke Park, Tipperary cannot progress.

“Currently the only Munster Stadium on their radar is Walsh Park so the rest of us must join the queue,” he added.

“In Munster alone, we have four GAA stadiums with approved safe capacities of 25,000-plus. They are FBD Semple Stadium (45,690), Páirc Uí Chaoimh (45,000), TUS Gaelic Grounds (44,023) and Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney (38,000). Then there’s Cusack Park with 19,000, Walsh Park with 11,000, Páirc Uí Rinn with 16,440, and Austin Stack Park Tralee with 12,000. How many occasions during the year are these stadiums anywhere near the full capacity?

“The nearest Semple Stadium got to full capacity this year was the Munster hurling final (45,158), with the All-Ireland quarter-finals next at 32,640. For ten months from January to October, Semple Stadium hosted 60 games and 20 of these had attendances less than 2,000.

“Carrying a stadium with up to 50,000 capacity needs constant maintenance and even during the Covid years these costs were still there even with no rental income. The FBD name sponsorship has been a major boost in this area, and this is really appreciated. We constantly hear complaints from patrons about the PA system, the scoreboard, disabled facilities, the condition of the seats and terraces, but these are issues related to an ageing stadium. With so many major stadia in the province the demand for FBD Semple Stadium will continue to decrease.” 

Touching on the integration process of the GAA, LGFA, and Camogie Association, which took its first proper steps this year, the Tipperary secretary said the sharing of financial resources needs to be properly addressed during merger talks.

Floyd foresees this becoming a “difficult issue” unless the financial pot is increased accordingly.

“Currently, Tipperary’s returns from gate receipts in club and National League share show approximately 80% from hurling and 20% from football. Despite this, our inter-county hurlers and footballers are treated equally when it comes to meals, gear, expenses etc.

“Without additional income it will be difficult to treat four groups equally as is envisaged but this is the challenge ahead. It is important that everyone has a clear understanding of the issues involved before diving in without knowing what the eventual outcome will be.” 

Reflecting on the 2022 campaign of the Tipperary footballers, Floyd noted the extent of player turnover since the Munster final win over Cork two years ago and how this revolving door of players coming and going has hampered progress.

“A disappointing year for Tipp’s senior footballers whose form went downhill after gaining promotion to Division 3. Losing to Cavan in that league final was a blow we never recovered from despite a first-round victory over Waterford.

“Unfortunately, continuity is inconsistent in Tipperary football and player turnover has been massive since our Munster final victory in November 2020. The loss of key players has had a serious impact on team performance and to gain promotion from Division 4 under the circumstances has been an incredible achievement. Looking ahead to 2023, David Power will try and put the pieces back together.” 

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