Curtailing the spend on inter-county teams represents a “huge challenge” within the GAA, according to Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice.
The Kerry football boss believes it is possible to achieve significant improvements without “having to spend the world” and claimed the amount of money being pumped into his Kerry team is “negligible” by comparison with other counties.
Team expenses in Kerry last year, across both codes and all grades from minor upwards, ran to €998,495, a 3% rise on the 2014 total. Included in that were the physiotherapy and medical services which reached €194,292, an 18% hike by comparison with the previous year’s spend. The costs associated with the various Kingdom teams put the county sixth overall, behind Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Tipperary, all of whom broke the €1m mark.
“With regard to the costs, it is a huge challenge,” Fitzmaurice said at last Friday’s Club Limerick business breakfast.
“In Kerry, I’d be big into using what we need. Outside of the medical team in our management, everyone else is voluntary.
“The cost of the backroom team and management is negligible by comparison with other counties.
“You are always looking to improve and strive to be better. But I think you can do that without having to spend the world. Sometimes, when a fella names a price, most fellas would think the higher the price, the better the person. It doesn’t always equate that way.”
He continued: “We try to put the money into things for the players. Having the nutrition right, having the gyms right. When I took over in 2012, I looked at things I felt we could improve on. When you are looking for marginal gains, one of the things we did was bring in a full-time nutritionist. Kevin Beasley from Listowel came on board. He is a volunteer, which is refreshing in the modern climate when every fella wants his few quid. He has made a huge difference and a huge impact on how we prepare for games in terms of nutrition pre-game, post-game, post-training and what they eat away from the training.”
The increasing spend on club teams, added Fitzmaurice, mustn’t go unchecked. “The amount of expertise that players are demanding at club level is serious. There is so much information and knowledge out there through social media. If you want to beat a team, you think you have to have all this stuff. I don’t think everything is necessary. I think you have to get what is right for your team and what the proper fit for your team is, be it a club team, a county team or whatever.”
On the black card, the 2014 All-Ireland winning manager voiced his support for the retention of the controversial third card, although he was adamant that referees must do a better job with regard to its implementation.
“It is a good rule if it is enforced properly. I’d probably be in the minority in saying that. I don’t think it is enforced correctly. There is no consistency. There is no consistency from referees refereeing from game to game. I see a lot of club games in Kerry and the black card is rarely shown. The one big positive of the black card is that going back a couple of years to 2012/13, a huge problem in the game was checking of players off the ball. If you were trying to play a one-two, be it either with the hand or foot, checking was a huge part of the game in stopping the runner. That is gone from the game because referees tend to spot it and it is an automatic black card. If the rule is enforced as it should be, it is a good rule. But I think there is too much inconsistency in it so they probably have to look at it.”
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