The GAA authorities will monitor more closely the expenses incurred in the training and preparation of county teams at all levels in 2010.
GAA President Christy Cooney and Director General Paraic Duffy are known to harbour concerns about the manner in which many county boards are being burdened by escalating costs with the outgoings in running county teams claiming a huge slice of overall expenditure.
Even counties which do not sample meaningful success and indeed some which enjoy only a limited involvement in their provincial championships are currently returning what are viewed as extremely high costings.
Earlier this year county boards were advised to exercise careful husbandry in terms of their finances because of the downturn in the overall economy. And now that annual accounts which have been presented at county Conventions up and down the country suggest that there is no significant reduction in expenditure, the GAA hierarchy plan to conduct a forensic examination of outgoings.
Armagh’s county team costs this year amounted to £561,914 although there was significant reward for this outlay with the capture of both the Ulster and All Ireland Minor football titles.
Yet the Tipperary board spent something approaching twice that figure — €1,081,562 — on its county teams. While Tipperary won promotion from Division Three of the National Football League, the county’s hurlers lost in their All Ireland final to Kilkenny.
And in Roscommon, a county which was bailed out by a €1m donation from a benefactor four years ago, a massive loss of €500,000 was still reported for this year.
Several Ulster counties have seen their income from sponsorship reduced somewhat because of the economic climate yet Tyrone has now become the first county to sell its quota of 2010 football season tickets for adults and juveniles. Tyrone, indeed, is so far the only county to have taken up its season ticket allocation in either football or hurling. Introduced last year to reward loyal fans, the season ticket represents value for money at £75 which guarantees the bearer admission to all his or her team’s National League games and entry to their opening championship match. After that it’s ‘pay as you go’ although season ticket holders will be given priority for All Ireland semi-final and final tickets should their team progress to that stage.
There certainly seems to be money currently on the table in Tyrone to ensure that Mickey Harte’s side and of course, the other county sides, at all levels will benefit from healthy support.
Meanwhile, Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke is confident that his new captain Brendan Donaghy will provide the ideal leadership when he takes the armband for the first time in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup next month.
While several experienced Armagh players are missing from the squad for a variety of reasons, O’Rourke is confident that newcomers will blend in comfortably.
Armagh begin their McKenna Cup campaign against Fermanagh in Crossmaglen on January 10.
Armagh squad: P Hearty, P Kernan, T Kernan, A Kernan, M McNamee (all Crossmaglen Rangers), M Ferris (Carrickcruppen), P Magee (Sarsfields), S O’Neill , V Martin, P McEvoy, B Shannon (Dromintee), D Parkinson, P Duffy, (Pearse Og), M Mackin (St Patrick’s), R Austin (Clan na gael), C Watters (Cullaville), J O’Neill, K Toner (Granemore), J Feeney (Madden), B McGlone (Ballymacnab), R Henderson (Clan Eireann), B Mallon (Tir na nOG), G Swift, C Vernon (Harps), B Donaghy (Clonmore), J Lavery (Maghery), F Moriarty (Wolfe Tones), S McDonnell (Killeavy).