Fitzmaurice: ‘In Kerry, we’re prudent with our finances’

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice

It won’t stimulate anything like the debate over Kerry’s defence for Sunday’s Munster SFC semi-final in Killarney, but it should.

The county board’s first full-time commercial manager, Maurice O’Meara, started work last week with a straightforward brief: Monetise the brand that is Kerry GAA.

Even if Dublin’s runaway money train skews the pitch somewhat, most GAA counties are invariably chasing their tails to keep income on a par with spiralling expenditure on inter-county teams. Kerry are no different, admitted football manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice.

It’s big business now. Everything costs, even in terms of the basic stuff, like feeding the team,” said Fitzmaurice.

He was speaking in the wake of comments last week in Kerry’s Eye by treasurer Dermot Lynch that county team costs were spiralling out of control. Fitzmaurice interpreted that as a general comment regarding inter-county demands more than a specific reference to his own county.

“In fairness, in Kerry, we are very prudent with our finances,” he insisted. “Possibly, where we’d be slightly different from some counties is that nearly all the money spent by us goes on the players. There aren’t huge outlays on backroom teams, because most of them are volunteers. That’s a significant saving compared to other counties. The money being spent is very much focused on developing and advancing players.”

Kerry’s inter-county costs last year were a fraction over €1m, one of six counties to extend such spending into seven figures. Fitzmaurice accepts that the Kingdom are miles off Dublin in terms of corporate pulling power, and always will be, it being as much a result of geography as business.

“There’s a budget there, and you can’t have the latest craze or whatever’s the latest gadget Dublin or someone else has. That’s not the way it works in Kerry. I work closely with the county board chairman Tim Murphy. We have a set budget, and, in the time I’ve been in charge, I don’t think we’ve ever gone over budget. We’d be prudent and sensible.

I’d be conscious it is an amateur organisation and we’d have to be understanding of that. To be fair to the lads at county board level, they back everything we try to do. If we need something, they try to make it happen, but if it can’t happen, it can’t happen.

Fitzmaurice added: “I can’t ever remember looking for something and it not being given to us. The board back us. [former chairman] Patrick O’Sullivan backed us. Tim is the same. It’s a very healthy situation we have here, but then, we accept as well that you can’t look to go to Dubai for a training holiday in January. There’s reason and understanding from both sides. I’ve received 100% backing for everything I’ve tried to do since becoming manager.”

The Kerry boss — without Johnny Buckley, Shane Enright, Daithi Casey and Donnchadh Walsh for Sunday’s provincial semi-final against Colm Collins’ Clare — confirmed that team management has no plans or budget at present for a training camp. He also strongly welcomed the appointment of Maurice O’Meara, who worked as general manager at Killarney and Dooks Golf Clubs previously.

“There was a lot made when I was reappointed of the fact I referred to a three-year plan. In fact, this was the kind of stuff I was actually talking about. From the county board’s perspective, there’s a lot going on in the background to ensure we have a sustainable financial model in Kerry that can sustain the likes of the new centre of excellence at Currans and all the intercounty teams, and that’s before you go to any bells and whistles. There’s a lot of work going on to make sure it’s a sustainable model.”

The Kerry squad has returned to Fitzgerald Stadium for training ahead of Sunday’s semi-final with Clare, but Fitzmaurice expressed his delight with the new facility at Currans.

“When we were there, first, in January, it was still a work in progress, but now it’s getting closer to what it should be and there’s steps being taken every week. The pitches and the [flood] lights are excellent. There’s no last-minute messing with changes of training venue and the players are able to have their food on site. They train, they go upstairs and eat, and that saves a good bit of time. It might only be half an hour, but that’s important when these lads are giving so much.”

More on this topic

Concentration of players from East Kerry 'a concern' for inter-county team, says Kerry GAA secretaryConcentration of players from East Kerry 'a concern' for inter-county team, says Kerry GAA secretary

Change in the air for selection of Kerry captain - but not for 2020Change in the air for selection of Kerry captain - but not for 2020

St Brendan's secure sixth O’Sullivan Cup title of the decadeSt Brendan's secure sixth O’Sullivan Cup title of the decade

Has any other county produced such a seamless transfer of talent as Kerry?Has any other county produced such a seamless transfer of talent as Kerry?


Sating the festive appetite is what Christmas is all about, here Joe McNamee takes us through the best culinary delights that are produced right here on our doorstep.Want to give local this Christmas? Joe McNamee rounds up the the country's very best food produce

Architect and artist Harry Wallace tells Eve Kelliher how his style has evolved.How a lifetime as an architect has inspired Cork artist Harry Wallace

Don’t let present stress ruin your run-up to Christmas. Pat Fitzpatrick has done all the hard work with this tongue-in-cheek gift guide for every budget, so you can tick everyone off your list and get down to enjoying yourself for the festive season.Gift stressbuster: We sort out who gets what and why

It’s not what you have that makes you happy, it’s what you do. And what better time to be proactive than during the season of goodwill, says Margaret Jennings.Joy to the world: Strategies to increase your happiness during the season of goodwill

More From The Irish Examiner