Tipperary GAA chairman Sean Nugent has accused the Gaelic Players Association of hampering his county’s fundraising initiatives in the USA.
Nugent told delegates at last Wednesday evening’s annual convention in Thurles that he was bemused to learn the GPA had been to New York on a fundraising mission shortly before a Tipp delegation visited the Big Apple in April. And now the Premier County chief is calling on Croke Park to ensure there is no future conflict between GPA and county board fundraisers abroad.
“While the New York event was a great and a successful experience we were surprised to find that the Gaelic Players Association were there before us also on a fundraising mission,” he said.
Nugent outlined how some supporters in New York were “confused” about who they should donate to. Having revealed a deficit of €244,930 for the 2012 financial year, Nugent and his fellow officers embarked on a major fundraising drive this year and their hard work enabled the county board to reveal a €52,699 surplus 12 months on.
“The Tipperary fundraiser was geared towards funding our centre of excellence in Dr Morris Park and improving facilities for our County players, which is a priority for us,” continued Nugent.
“In the present economic climate we found it necessary to go abroad to fundraise — something we have never done before — and it was not helpful to our cause that an operation run by full time and professional people had been there in advance.
“I note that further events of this kind have been held in New York since then and it begs the question how are we in our counties expected to fund intercounty teams and improve facilities if we have to compete with another tier of fundraising carrying the GAA name either at home or abroad?
“I would ask the Croke Park authorities to examine this situation to ensure there is no conflict between the volunteer led fundraising by counties and those organised by the GPA.”
Nugent acknowledged the GPA has “the capacity to do great things for players” and “ventures like job creation, education, player welfare, mental health issues, confidential counselling and so on are to be lauded and appreciated”.
But he insisted: “The funding of these areas must be jointly controlled by Croke Park, thus ensuring the benefits are inclusive and transparent and most importantly do not cut across the volunteer-led fundraising by counties which supports training facilities and support services for intercounty players.”
Meanwhile, Tipp’s newly-elected Munster Council representative John Costigan voiced his suspicions that greater forces were at work in the run-up to last Wednesday’s vote that saw him pip another former county board chairman, Barry O’Brien, to join PJ Maher on the provincial body.
Costigan didn’t go into specifics but those present at convention deduced from his comments that an outside official may have been canvassing for an opponent in the race for one of the two Munster Council representative slots.
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