IT’S that time of the year again when the provincial councils of the GAA issue their annual reports.
When the officers in Munster, Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht took time out to review the year’s proceedings they were dealing with something they had not encountered before.
They were dealing with a season that saw all the big games played behind closed doors, something that never occurred before. In that regard, they were all going to suffer considerably on the financial front.
And here in Munster, they were going to be hit the hardest because of the huge support base that is there every year for the flagship competition, the SHC.
They took another big hit from the loss of revenue that would have been generated from a meeting of Cork and Kerry in the SFC. So, in his annual report to the Convention, it was no great surprise that Council Secretary Kieran Leddy reported a loss of €843,732 in the accounts for the year.
That was a huge hit and, of course, in the main, it was all down to the loss of gate receipts from the big games.
Gate receipts dropped from €5.354m in 2019 to just €454,265 in 2020.
That is a whopping loss and an illustration of the support that is out there for the games across the province of Munster.
Commercial income was down considerably too for the year, from €712,143 in 2019 to just €27,255 last year.
Central Council funding also decreased from €2.06m in 2019 to just €698,678 in 2020.
More than €1m was saved in matchday costs as well as €700,000 in on-field rents.
In a well-constructed report, Leddy made some very interesting observations aside altogether from the financial situation.
He paid particular attention to the online abuse that was levelled at Clare County Secretary Pat Fitzgerald, father of Wexford team boss Davy.
“I was saddened to read about the level of abuse on social media platforms directed at one of our longest-serving members, Pat Fitzgerald and his family.
“The Fitzgerald family have given years of sterling service to the Association at club and county level. I know Pat for many years as a very hard-working and dedicated GAA administrator who goes well beyond the call of duty.
The abuse is a cowardly act by the perpetrators."
After calling for a split season in his 2020 report, Leddy stated this time that he was delighted to see it becoming a reality.
And he also had some strong words to utter on the issue of cynicism in hurling.
Following the 2020 All-Ireland SHC which featured several cynical fouls, the standing rules committee of the GAA have put forward a proposal to punish such play that prevents goal-scoring opportunities with a penalty as well as a sin bin for offending plates.
“There is a debate at present as to whether cynicism exists in the game of hurling and at a level that warrants action by way of new rules. There can be no doubt there were tackles of a cynical nature in this year’s championship and those tackles denied scoring opportunities.
“The number of them is irrelevant in my view and it is important that the Association deals with this question now as opposed to taking a wait and see attitude “It is not a question of living with it if there are only a few incidents here and there.
“If a cynical tackle confers an advantage to the team of the player that commits the foul, it is unfair. Cynical fouling needs to be discussed in that context."
No doubt, many will share that viewpoint and the number of cynical fouls that are being committed to prevent a clear scoring opportunity are increasing all the time.
Meanwhile, the Annual Congress of the GAA has been scheduled for February 26 and 27 and it will be organised on a virtual basis with delegations from the various counties expected to be significantly reduced.
The split season and the composition of the 2022 All-Ireland senior football championship will be the main items on the agenda along with a number of significant playing rule changes.
New York delegate, a Cork native, Larry McCarthy is due to succeed John Horan as GAA president, while there will be a vote to determine who succeeds McCarthy and John Costigan from Tipperary as trustees of the GAA, which include positions on the organisation’s management committee.
Current Central Competitions Control Committee chairman Ned Quinn (Kilkenny) is among those putting his name forward along with former Munster chairman Robert Frost (Clare), Kerry’s JJ O’Carroll, ex-Ulster chair Michael Hassan (Antrim) and John Corcoran of Roscommon.
So it’s very much a case of not much happening on the playing fields but plenty of activity in the corridors of power.