Tipperary chairman Michael Bourke calls for players of the year changes

Tipperary’s GAA chairman Michael Bourke has called for changes to the way in which the GAA/GPA players of the year are selected.

His comments come in the wake of this year’s awards when both the All-Ireland hurling and football champions had two of the three nominees on the shortlists — but both failed to produce the winner.

Bourke also wants Croke Park to make a bigger contribution than the €80,000 it currently gives to the holiday fund for All-Ireland finalists and criticised the amount of money being spent by clubs on “outside” trainers.

The brilliant Austin Gleeson from Waterford emerged as the 2016 GAA/GPA All-Stars Hurler of the Year, prompting some surprise in the Premier County and elsewhere that neither of the All-Ireland winning players from the shortlist, Paudie Maher or Seamus Callanan, was the choice.

A view in some quarters is the presence of two nominees out of three may have led to the “Tipperary vote” being split. Bourke used his address at the annual convention to criticise the current system, which is voted on by the players.

“Last month Tipperary collected eight All-Stars, seven hurling and one football, a magnificent achievement,” Bourke said.

“But it seems to me it’s a disadvantage for any county who has two players nominated for a single award. The voting should be looked at and the system changed to make sure there is a better chance for players.

“This is not a crib from Tipperary, or from me, it’s just an observation because the same happened in both hurling and football this year.

Dublin had two players and didn’t get footballer of the year.”

Dublin’s Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny were both on the three-man shortlist for the GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year prize but lost out to Mayo’s Lee Keegan.

Meanwhile, Bourke called on Croke Park to make a more sizeable donation to the All-Ireland finalists’ holiday fund. The county board has allocated €78,000 from its own coffers towards the holiday, which will see the Tipp hurlers, backroom team, officials and partners heading to Florida later this month. Croke Park gives a grant of €80,000 to each of the four All-Ireland senior hurling and football finalists for a team holiday, while more is likely to come from sponsorship and fundraising.

It’s believed the total cost of the holiday, including spending money, is well above €200,000.

“The expectation is that this holiday is to be of a high standard,” Bourke pointed out. “The contribution from Croke Park falls a long way short and this adds further cost to the county board. Considering the joy and the entertainment these players have given us all year, and the tremendous turnout of supporters, I would ask Croke Park to have a serious look at enhancing their contribution to the holidays.”

Bourke also criticised the “massive amounts of money” being spent by clubs on “outside” coaches which he put at “somewhere between €7,000-€10,000 per club”.


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