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GAA president Aogan O'Fearghail defends Dublin's £1.2m lift

By Declan Bogue

GAA President Aogan O'Fearghail has defended the disparity in funding awarded to Gaelic games activities in Dublin after the Association published their annual accounts.

While it was revealed that Dublin will benefit from £1.2million to fund their projects and coaching infrastructure in 2016, by way of comparison Fermanagh were tied with Leitrim as the county to receive the least at £30,000.

Naturally, these figures are weighed towards participation levels and a proportion of Dublin's funding is to enable full-time coaching positions.

"There is a disproportion and that's clear from the figures and that's why we publish the figures so people can see but there is a disproportion of population also," explained O'Fearghail.

"There are 1.3 million people living in (Dublin) and 20 years ago the GAA was struggling in large parts of it so there's been fantastic development and not just because of investment. There's a huge voluntary effort in schools in Dublin but there's absolutely no doubt and it's clear for everyone to see that we do invest heavily in Dublin."

The Cavan man also pointed to the difficulties in making significant changes to the funding structures. He stated: "We have a small task force working here in Croke Park to see if we can redistribute and when we distribute - and it's a bit like our discussion on the fixtures - it does cause difficulty in one area.

"That's why, as Tom Ryan (GAA Director of Finance) explained this week, you can't just throw a switch overnight because there are people employed but we are determined to redistribute so that fairness and equity comes into the system a little more than is apparent."

The efforts made to secure the future of Gaelic games in Dublin since 2005 have borne fruit in spectacular style. Areas that had no Gaelic games culture south of the city have now ample representation on county teams, with 'super clubs' such as Kilmacud Crokes emerging.

With three All-Ireland football titles in the last five years, O'Fearghail didn't avoid the correlation between money and success.

"I think people can see very clearly where we have been investing heavily in Dublin. It has paid a lot of benefit," he said.

However, while the GAA employ an outside body to audit their accounts, he stopped short of urging the Gaelic Player's Association to do the same.

"What they do publicly is a matter for the GPA - that is their call and I wouldn't have any issue with that. But certainly their accounts are open to us within the GAA and they are subject to a full audit and rigour and we are comfortable with that."

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