Spare a thought for the poor harassed county board treasurer at this time of year.
He has to come up with a fair chunk of change every year to prepare his county’s teams, as everybody knows.
But how exactly is that spent? Breaking down the costs associated with even one training session of a senior intercounty side helps.
In terms of cost, we’ll be conservative and under-estimate, but you’ll still get the picture.
We start at the end of the session: Every person on the field of play gets a full meal after training, which means 40 meals — 30 players, assorted selectors and backroom staff — multiplied by at least €10: €400.
Say eight players — we’re being conservative, remember — are students in third-level institutions that are not in their home county: The round trip is 100 miles to training at standard GAA expense rates, 50c a mile. Eight x €50: €400.
Many of the other players travel a significant distance to training. Depending on the size of the county they may be undertaking a round trip of 100 miles as well, or further if, as happens on the western seaboard, many players live far away from home. Others may be a stone’s throw from the training venue, of course, but we can assume that at least 10 of the players are travelling a 30-mile round trip to training, to be very conservative. Ten multiplied by 30 is 300, multiplied by 50c: €150.
Two of the players — at least — aren’t available for training. They picked up serious injuries and are out of action for several months, but because they were injured on county duty the county board pays a discretionary amount to each to make up the shortfall in their wages. It’s a weekly amount but it works out at two players getting €150 per session: €300. (That could be higher if further surgery were needed, but we’ll omit that and presume this panel has freakishly well-developed recuperative powers).
Professional expertise is also on hand. There are two masseurs and physios in attendance for both the injured players and to keep the fit lads in shape. The physio is paid approximately €180 and the two masseurs €60 each. The strength and conditioning coach putting the players through their paces is getting €180 for the session. There are also usually a couple of individuals equipped with laptops at a training session, performance analysts who are logging data and getting €150 between them per session: €630 all in.
Equipment adds up as well. The players usually snack before and during training, so oranges, bananas, energy drinks, power bars, and so forth are provided. Apart from the oranges and bananas, these don’t grow on trees: €100.
(The team here is a football side which doesn’t incur one of the great GAA expenses: New sliotars, which is a cost of €100 per night).
All totted up? Not nearly.
The team’s training gear is personalised and paid for by the county board and is freshly laundered every week: €50.
All of that gear plus footballs, tops, cones, and so forth is carried in the team van. Though that is sponsored there are running costs such as insurance and diesel — say €30 per session.
And what about the actual training venue itself? Many counties have to rent pitches, and for several months of the year those pitches must be floodlit: That’s up to €150 per session.
One inter-county training session, therefore, can leave you with little change out of €2,200, and that’s for training pure and simple — it doesn’t count the cost of transport, food, and accommodation if the team has an overnight stay for a league or championship game, for instance (just hiring a bus to go Munster-Ulster or Ulster-Munster for a league game, for example, can clear €1,000). Never mind warm-weather training or a camp in a hotel-resort in Ireland.
But it gives you a hint of the expense: Three sessions a week from January to July — and most counties make it to July nowadays — means 12 sessions a month, 84 sessions in total, and a bill of €185,640.
If you’re from the west coast don’t lose your voice shouting: Obviously players from counties along the Atlantic travel further, and have more players coming back from Dublin and other cities, so the travel expenses can be much higher; the injury costs are also consciously kept down in our example also.
However, no matter how you slice it, everything all adds up.
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