GAA president Christy Cooney has defended the fee levied on the Ladies Football Association for the use of Croke Park last Sunday and rejected any suggestion that the figure extended into six figures.
Ladies Football president Pat Quill confirmed in the Irish Examiner yesterday that there was a sizeable fee involved in staging their finals. Though he declined to say how much it was, one estimate ranged from between €90,000 to €100,000.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Cooney who was in Croke Park yesterday for the VHI GAA Cul Day Out. “Our stadium people negotiate that and it is the same for camogie. I don’t know what the rent is. It’s something I’ll check out.
“We do give out very significant grants to them and we are very fair to them with regards to rent in the stadium. But we do have stewards and Gardaí so there are costs involved, but is it €100,000? I don’t think so.
“I noticed Pat Quill didn’t make a big issue out of it and he thought it was important that they play their games here. We welcome them too. They had 21,000 (for the final on Sunday), which is a good crowd, and they were very pleased with it and the standard of football was outstanding. We’ll continue to work with them.”
Cork claimed their fifth straight senior title at HQ in beating Dublin on Sunday afternoon, but the win was slightly soured by the fact that the men’s Cork SFC final was played the same day in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
That contrasted with the decisions made by county boards in Fermanagh and Antrim who moved their senior deciders to Saturday in order to facilitate supporters wishing to attend both events.
“We are working together to forge closer links,” said Cooney. “We have had meetings with ladies football and camogie. We hope to have four meetings a year to build relationships. There is the thought that we should be unified more at grassroots level because there is a lot of ladies football and camogie at GAA clubs.
“We want that to continue but I never see integration at national level because neither ladies football nor camogie want that and we have enough to be doing ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Cooney has also revealed the GAA will be making presentations to county boards regarding the policy of adopting pitch presentations, one which seems to have touched a nerve across the country.
Attempts to present Kilkenny with the Liam MacCarthy Cup from a podium had to be abandoned earlier this month and a number of county chairman have come out to cast doubts on the merit of the system.
“Sometimes people respond to the questions they are asked and say things without maybe looking at the bigger picture and maybe some of our county board officials have done that. We are doing it for health and safety. You saw it here (on Sunday), the ladies football people appealed for nobody to go on the pitch during the presentation, no one went on and the presentation went well.
“We believe there is a future in that and the most important thing for us is to ensure that everyone who comes here – fans, management and players – leave healthy.”
The end of the inter-county season brings with it a renewed focus on the club scene and Cooney remarked yesterday that efforts are ongoing to bring about a more club-friendly fixture calendar for those units.
The Interprovincial championships are also in need of a defined place in the calendar and, although that has yet to be found, plans are well underway for the next round of football and hurling ties in that competition.
This year’s football final will be played in Ruislip on November 8 and the GAA will launch the event this Thursday in the Irish Embassy in London where 600 people will attend a gala dinner celebrating the 125 anniversary in Britain.
“We hope it will go well and give football the boost that hurling got when it went to Abu Dhabi last year,” said Cooney.
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