A leading Dublin GAA official has flatly rejected Kildare secretary Kathleen O’Neill’s call for the pooling of individual county board sponsorship deals.
Writing in her report to Kildare annual convention, O’Neill voiced concerns about Dublin’s whopping €4m tie-up with AIG. But Dublin assistant secretary Jim Roche claims Kildare and other counties are already benefiting from the Sky Blues and their pulling power.
Roche argued that Dublin’s ability to generate huge revenues by drawing massive crowds to Croke Park results in major spin offs for other units of the GAA. He insisted Dublin should not be criticised for their ability to land record-breaking sponsorship deals and praised fellow officers for keeping the county’s finances in order.
“My thoughts on it would be very clear. We have looked after our money very well,” Roche said.
“After we did up Parnell Park [opened in 1995], we were in trouble but [current chief executive] John Costello and the late John Egan [former chairman] worked hard to pay the money back.”
It is estimated that Dublin fell into a £1m debt following the work on Parnell Park but now, county board finances are in a healthy state.
Roche added: “John Costello balances the books all of the time. You have to have somebody there keeping a very close eye on it. And we have a good treasurer in Finbarr O’Mahony, who took over from his father.
“It’s not our fault that somebody wants to be our sponsors. And where would Leinster be without Dublin and Croke Park?
“John and myself and Andy [Kettle, chairman] get on well with every other county and we wouldn’t like to see anybody in trouble but you have to manage your money.
“I’m not going to go into it with Kildare but they were in trouble. But if you hadn’t got a strong Dublin outfit, you wouldn’t have a strong Leinster budget or Croke Park budget.”
Roche also rejected O’Neill’s assertion that Dublin are now a “superpower”. “Are we a superpower because we won two All-Irelands in the last few years? Kilkenny have won six hurling All-Irelands since 2006 so does that make them a superpower?
“Kilkenny set the standards [in hurling] and now Dublin are setting the standards [in football]. That’s the way you have to look at it.
“I’ve spent 20 years on management in Dublin now and we started development squads through Heffo [Kevin Heffernan] and Donal Hickey. Clubs and teachers and everybody got into it and it happened.
“We have had good managers too at underage and eventually senior managers, through to the latest people managing the teams, Pat Gilroy and Jim Gavin. If you have a brand, you can sell. Obviously our brand is not only sold by us but by Croke Park and Leinster. And how you can compete is to put the proper structures in place.
“Kildare were, for a long time, beating us all round at underage. What happened to the good fellas coming through?”
Roche insists he is not privy to the current state of Kildare finances but reflected: “I can understand [that] Kildare went through fairly major problems with their finances. The only thing I know about that is from reading the papers. They would know themselves where the money was spent and what they got back out of it.”
Kildare are currently working through their financial crisis, with aid coming from Croke Park, the Leinster Council and their own fundraising.
And Roche added: “Our auditors come to us every year and even if our finances are good, they tell us what we should be looking at.
“It’s difficult to speak about somebody else but it could be like looking at your next door neighbour driving in a big car and you might be in an ordinary car but have more money coming in.
“I would know every county in Leinster and have good relationships with them all but if you have problems with your money, what caused that? We’ve come from being £1m in debut and now have a development [Parnell Park] used by everybody. It’s one of the better places to watch a match.”
Roche, a member of the Whitehall Colmcilles club, insisted he’s not concerned by sniping at Dublin following the sponsorship deal with AIG.
He said: “It doesn’t bother me.
“While people might say that we have loads of money, we have to work hard and so do the clubs. We have clubs in financial difficulty but that’s everywhere. Clubs have done developments but we’re [Whitehall] sound enough and ready to open a new pitch, maybe not next year but the following year.”
Poles apart: the situations in Dublin and Kildare
KILDARE - 2012 finances
Surplus: €26,861 (surplus for the first time in six years).
- €575,000 of debt revealed two years ago.
- County board unable to secure the €100,000 additional funding they had sanctioned last March – raising just €20,000 from a bucket collection.
- As a result, Kildare could only be able to pay half of the scheduled loan repayment for this year to Croke Park.
- Munster council secretary Simon Moroney was appointed by Central Council to oversee Kildare’s financial affairs.
- Despite this monitoring, and a slashing of expenditure across the board, a cash deficit of €140,000 from January to July saw that debt hit €710,000.
- Substantial loan obtained from Croke Park to help pay ‘day-to-day creditors’.
- Financial supervisory committee established.
DUBLIN - 2012 finances
- The high cost of success saw Dublin spend over €1.7m on the preparation of intercounty teams in 2011.
- That high level of expenditure was justified as Dublin won the All-Ireland SFC title for the first time since 1995.
- Even though Dublin did not contest the football decider in 2012, and crashed out of the hurling championship early, preparing inter-county teams still cost over €1.6m last season.
- Dublin enjoyed incredible success this year as the footballers claimed the Sam Maguire for the second time in three seasons, while the hurlers stormed to a first Leinster senior championship success since 1961.
- Dublin end sponsorship with Vodafone after the mobile phone company decides not to extend partnership into a fifth season.
- Dublin immediately target new sponsors and strike gold with international insurance giants AIG. Deal estimated to be worth in the region of €4m over five years.
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