Munster Council chairman Seán Walsh last night claimed preparations of inter-county GAA teams had reached “an unprecedented and perhaps dangerous level.”
Walsh, in his address to the province’s annual convention in Dungarvan, said demands on amateur players have become too great, while he also hit out at the government’s treatment of rural Ireland and the impact such actions are having on the GAA at grassroots level.
The Kerry native told delegates: “we have reached an unprecedented and perhaps dangerous level of preparation for amateur players who have to combine work, family life, and then in their so called leisure time training at a level that some players in professional sports would find difficult to endure. The fact it is considered necessary is even worse. The debate of amateur versus professional is currently ongoing in the media and is also a topic of conversation among many GAA members. At the moment amateur players are doing a professional amount of work, a situation that is seeing many of them leave the game before they should. I have never known a player who would not do what is asked of him in the pursuit of excellence and in the hope of success. But when is enough considered too much for the player still operating in the amateur game?”
Mr Walsh had harsh words for politicians for cost cutting measures across rural services. He blasted: “Rural Ireland as we know it today is under threat. While I accept the country is in the worst economic crisis ever and will require tough and courageous decisions to see us through it, I cannot accept that targeting two and three teacher schools, rural garda stations, rural post officers, as a mechanism to help the country to return to economic sovereignty and stability. I believe we have a duty from the highest level in the Association to let our views be known to the decision makers that what they are attempting to do will into the future pose a real threat to GAA clubs in rural areas, clubs that have helped very considerably to shape rural Ireland itself’’.
Mr Walsh also defended the Munster Council’s decision to proceed with a new state of the art headquarters in Castletroy in a time of economic uncertainty. He explained: “It is a building which befits the status of this Council. We have spent about €1.8m since the start of the project and this was done without borrowing and without spending funds from our reserves which are invested.
“The project is continuing to be managed and financed in a way that is very prudent. I want to reassure counties the Council will continue to meet our usual commitments to them.”
Walsh said the Council’s continued financial strength depends on their patrons who support their games at all levels. “Therefore they have to ensure that once again they get their admission prices and pricing structures right so as to allow as many patrons as possible to attend their games.”
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