Duffy: Get a grip on the power of managers

It’s time county boards “got a grip on the power of their managers”, GAA director general Páraic Duffy declared yesterday.

The Monaghan man emphasised the necessity for counties and managers to abide by the template GAA charter that formulates the arrangement between managers and county committees.

Acknowledging the increasing prominence of managers as “one of the most significant developments within the association over the last 30 years”, Duffy wrote in the GAA’s annual report released yesterday that some of them have to show more consideration for county boards’ finances, along with their attitudes towards clubs.

“Nowhere in our rulebook is the term ‘team manager’ mentioned, yet there is not a single officer of the county committee who wields a greater influence than the team manager over the activities of GAA in the county,” Duffy wrote.

“Often, it is the manager who determines when club championships are played, when county players are allowed to play with their clubs and, to a large extent, whether the county will operate within its budget in a particular year.”

Duffy sees the charter as a mechanism in ensuring there is a better understanding between inter-county managers and clubs.

At yesterday’s press conference, he said: “We want county chairmen to sit down with their managers at the start of the year and say ‘these are the likely issues — finance, releasing players to their clubs, how many days you have free before the championship games’ and get these things down in writing. Then you have no problems. There are some counties that do that very well.”

He added: “I’m not blaming managers. It’s up to the county committees to say to them that before they’re appointed that a charter is agreed on.”

However, Duffy believes the charter, which is intended to be a binding agreement between managers and counties, is being disregarded. He wrote: “I have a sense that, in many instances, the charter is no more than a tick-box exercise and that a real opportunity to address a difficult problem is being lost. The responsibility lies firmly with the county committees.”

Meanwhile, Duffy and GAA president Christy Cooney both believe the association should adopt the toughest stance against any county found to have breached the amateur rules of the organisation by paying their managers. Asked about people having the perception that the GAA’s authorities won’t take the necessary steps to punish counties who contravene rules, Duffy said: “My view is that we should take the hard decisions.”

Cooney added: “I would support Páraic fully on this. We have had a lot of debate and discussion on this matter. The counties have given us a response on payments to managers but the subject is broader than that. I believe the association has to take responsibility to dosomething positive.”

Duffy explained the GAA have sought outside expertise of how they will enforce the auditing of county boards’ behaviour with their managers because it has repercussions with the Revenue. “You have to be sure they are absolutely correct in terms of taxation laws and we just need expert opinion on it.”


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