Worry at GAA focus on 'maximising revenue' in director general recruitment

Former GAA PRO Danny Lynch is concerned the criteria set out to appoint the new director general indicates the association remain intent on maximising revenue.

As the deadline to apply for the position Páraic Duffy vacates on March 31 was extended due to Friday week, Dingle native Lynch doesn’t believe the advert didn’t send out the right message about the role.

That appears to be conceded in part by Croke Park who yesterday clarified that those who don’t have at least a bachelors degree in business will be fully considered. As well as possessing “strong experience of financial management” and “commercial acumen”, it is stipulated candidates possess a third level business-related qualification.

Lynch was taken aback by that specification. “I was surprised to see a degree in business management mentioned in the advert. At least the last four men to have held the position would be ruled out if that was a prerequisite when they went for it. When it came to appointing my successor, I insisted that a third level qualification be taken out of it. I didn’t have it myself and secondly I don’t think it should be a prerequisite in terms of managing a situation.

“What I would worry about is how geared the GAA are towards maximising revenue. That is not a wholly bad idea but I wouldn’t subscribe to it if it was at the detriment to somebody totally understanding the GAA and I mean totally, in particular its ethos.

“When I mention ethos I mean an understanding of where we have come from. It’s hugely important just as it is essential to have the intelligence to know how to keep the whole thing together. But maximising revenue is a false god. I think it’s already been done.”

Lynch, for 20 years the GAA’s de facto director of operations and more, worked briefly with Duffy before he retired in 2008. Although Lynch has quibbles with a couple of the decisions taken in his tenure, he has high regard for the Monaghan man. “He’s an honest broker. He tried his best within the confines and restrictions of provincial councils, county boards and everything else. You could argue with some of the things that happened during his time but at least he tried to improve the association. Nobody inside or outside the GAA could ever question his honesty or his integrity.”

The issues Lynch would have relate to the amount of money provided to the GPA every year – €2.8 million – and elements of the Sky Sports media rights deal. “I can’t see why the GAA have ceded so much money to the GAA. That boggles me. I understand the Sky concept. It is good in some ways – I was on holiday in Turkey and was able to watch the matches because of them. But I would be very careful with how that is handled. It doesn’t make sense that if you’re in Dingle or Toomevara and Kerry or Tipperary are playing and the match is on TV and you can’t see it. It leaves more of a sour taste than if the match isn’t televised at all.”

Lynch accepts there are several challenges facing Duffy’s successor but isn’t so sure Dublin’s recent success is one of them. However, he foresees amalgamating counties as a means of levelling up the field. “I would take the view that it’s quite cyclical. It’s more of a demographic problem than a GAA management problem.

“We all know Longford or Westmeath aren’t going to win the All-Ireland but if they want to equalise things a Longford-Westmeath team has to emerge. The GAA in Dublin is huge but you have to understand the demographics and how country people, who made, grew and maintained clubs like Ballyboden St Endas and St Judes, came to Dublin and harvested.

“I wouldn’t worry about Dublin’s supremacy. Kerry have won four minor titles in a row. Unprecedented. They’ve won the last four Hogan Cups. Again, unprecedented. Other counties can emulate them. Kerry has tradition but by no means does it have a big population.”

As for the dichotomy between the county and club scene, Lynch believes the difficulty lies with the GAA’s inability to stem the cult of the manager. “For the life of me, I can’t understand why counties who have teams knocked out in June or July haven’t their championships finished by the start of November. Everything can’t be left to Croke Park.

“The cult of the manager started with (Mick) O’Dwyer and (Kevin) Heffernan and while I don’t blame them per se, they were the genesis of what happened after that. The manager became all powerful and the manager dictated when county players would be available to their clubs.

“The manager calls the shots now, not the county chairman, secretary, CCC or board and that’s pretty sad because it does impact the club scene.

“You see club players ending up with no championship games for long periods and that’s a real disappointment.”


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