Cork County Board is to contact the GAA’s financial director Ger Mulryan asking for an alternative proposal regarding the association’s loss-of-wages cover to be considered prior to a vote on the matter.
Ordinarily, the €8m needed for the GAA’s player-injury fund is covered by €6m from the collection of annual club premiums and €2m from gate receipts but the shortage of games over the past year has resulted in a shortfall.
At a specially convened remotely-held county board meeting on Tuesday night, delegates were presented with two options from Central Council to meet the deficit – option 1 being a 25 percent increase on the current premium each club pays (€1,000 per adult team) and option 2 representing €30 per adult player in a club or €50 on an individual basis if a club was not willing to take part. Central Council delegates had been informed that votes had to be registered by this Friday, May 28 so that the policy could commence from June 1.
However, there was almost unanimous dissent among delegates, not least due to the short notice given and the lack of options. Kilworth’s Liam Kenny described the move as “absolutely shocking”.
“They’ve run the clock down to the 11th hour and looked for a decision in five minutes, knowing that we’d be put to the pin of our collars. We’ve rowed in and not rocked the boat, the opposite of what I said we should have done when this was discussed previously.
Kenny continued by saying that Croke Park had “abdicated their responsibility, this was buried on page 17 of the correspondence and very few would have known it was there. I’m disappointed with us as Cork and with HQ more.
“We let them play the game of getting up to the time-line and giving out two options, which abdicates responsibility. Nero has been fiddling with Rome burning and I would call on every club in the country en bloc to decide that we shouldn’t put our players on the field until something more appropriate is put to us.
“I’m extremely disappointed that the new president [Larry McCarthy] was in on some of these discussions and didn’t pick up on the sentiment. Stevie Wonder could see this coming – run it down to the last minute and present options that suit yourself and let them pick one of them.”
Freemount’s John O’Flynn agreed with Kenny and suggested that a third option should be explored.
“There was an effort put in with the options,” he said, “but the obvious option is that the insurance runs from June 1-Decmber 31 and covers loss of wages. Effectively, you start next year and pay the premium. This is just a mechanism for getting in cash.”
Cork County Board secretary Kevin O’Donovan acknowledged correspondence received from Aghabullogue, Ballydesmond, Bandon, Bantry Blues, Boherbue, Carrigtwohill, Charleville, Dohenys, Kilworth, St Finbarr’s and Youghal, with the responses varying from those absolutely against both options to those favouring option 1.
However, Douglas delegate Der O’Regan did say that his club would have a preference for option 2.
Cork’s Central Council delegate Tracey Kennedy said that there was a concern among some delegates that option 2 would mean a move away from loss of wages being part of the injuries fund.
She said that the GAA had been asked about other options and the reply was these were the two available. “The onus is on us to take a position,” she said. “I don’t know what other way there is to convey anger but there’ll be a vote anyway.”
That view was endorsed by chairman Marc Sheehan, who said that he didn’t think there was an appetite at national level for the issue to be reconsidered. “We’ve done as much as we can to try to avoid a decision being taken on Friday,” he said. “It would be remiss not to have a position when other counties will.”
Donie O’Mahony (Kilbrin) described himself as “appalled” at how Croke Park were misreading what clubs were thinking, especially as those clubs had suffered during the pandemic and had a low capacity to recover. Players – club administrators of the future – were being neglected, he said.
Carrigtwohill’s Peter Horgan lamented what he called a PR disaster. “Croke Park could have told us the options in January but they waited until the very last week and we have to find some decision for our players.” Liam Ó Laochdha (Youghal) said that “Páirc an Chrócaigh showed that they have lost touch with the ordinary membership”.
Carbery divisional board vice-chairman Aidan O’Rourke felt that the GAA had sufficient finances to cover the shortfall for the rest of the year and he agreed with John O’Flynn’s suggestion that the policy start afresh for 2022.
It was agreed that secretary Kevin O’Donovan would contact Ger Mulryan seeking a response to John O’Flynn’s proposal prior to a vote being taken on Friday.