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Tyrone stars have been shocked and hurt by expenses row, says McNamee

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone's Ronan McNamee has admitted that ongoing issues over expenses — with the players recently being asked for a £15 payment for sundry items — is beginning to have an effect on team morale and their chances of winning major honours.

McNamee also claimed that mileage costs — an increased rate was agreed at the start of this year — are frequently paid late, and that full amounts are sometimes left unpaid.

Speaking at an Allianz League media event ahead of the Red Hands’ clash this Saturday night against Monaghan, the Aghyaran full-back was responding to the allegations sent to Newstalk radio station last week that Tyrone chairperson Roisín Jordan insisted upon a £15 payment from each member of the panel.

“That was for a foam roller and a wee bag of stuff that we got. A foam roller and a couple of (resistance) bands,” explained McNamee.

“You’re not going to begrudge £15 for anything. It’s the principle of it.

“I saw on Twitter, I can’t remember who put it up, but someone said, ‘can you imagine Dublin asking players for £15?!’ The question would never be asked in the first place.”

The original email stated that the issues were affecting team morale, something the defender did not back away from when he stated: “Well, there are constant issues with mileage.”

Pressed further on if it were the amounts of payment or when it is paid, he said: “Both. Some people don’t get paid full amounts of what they would maybe claim. But if it’s being talked about by players, it’s obviously going to affect it in some way. If it wasn’t a problem, they wouldn’t be talking about it.”

As revealed by the Belfast Telegraph on February 17, Tyrone had the third lowest spend on the preparation of Ulster county teams in 2016 at £412,200. They actually saved £17,800 from the 2015 spend. The team that beat them in the All-Ireland quarter-final — Mayo — spent an astonishing £983,408 more.

To add context, Club Tyrone, the Red Hands’ fundraising wing, contributed £286,054 to the county board coffers, which had an overall income of £1,380,000 in 2016. The cost of £15 per player, with a panel of 35, comes to £525.

Tyrone’s finances are healthy, but a recent financial report stated that their borrowings for the Garvaghey complex now stands at £1.226m, with an increase of £130,000 from 2016 which they put down to the post-Brexit fall in sterling — their loan being in Euros.

McNamee said the matter was not discussed prior to Sunday’s game against Cavan, which fell victim to the incessant rain that fell in Omagh over the weekend.

He feels the issues will be resolved over the coming days.

“I’m sure if there’s anything to be said about it, it will be said maybe this week at some stage,” he said.

“I’m sure it’ll be nipped in the bud as quickly as possible because it’s not ideal on any front, from the county board side to the footballing side. You’re here to play football, you’re not here to talk about anything else or get anything else built up that’s going to maybe distract or bring unwanted attention on you.”

With boss Mickey Harte in the final year of his current arrangement with the county board, 25-year-old McNamee believes the lack of financial backing is detrimental to their ambitions of winning Sam Maguire for the first time since 2008.

“The more money that would be pressed into teams, I would imagine it would benefit them more, it would have to, for training weekends, for maybe equipment, whatever it is,” he said.

“Money is not everything but it would help. Dublin are spending it, the top hurling teams are spending it, it must come to some use.”

On the subject of the ‘Super 8s’ Championship reshuffle that was voted for at GAA Congress on Saturday, McNamee revealed that he did not take part in the Gaelic Players’ Association’s player ballot. This was partly because he felt that the implications were not spelled out sufficiently.

“You hear a lot but they don’t listen to players anyway. That’s been known,” he said.

“If you check Twitter the last three or four days, it’s been probably top priority for a lot of people. It’s gone completely nuts. It’s not even about the players anymore. You’re really just a puppet, that’s my opinion. But who would listen to me?”

Another player present at the media event — Monaghan’s Fintan Kelly — explained to reporters that he also did not take part in the GPA survey, which reported that 70% of members were opposed to the introduction of group stages at the quarter-final stage of the All-Ireland Championship.

However, he did reveal that the Monaghan squad as a whole took a vote and were not in favour of the new format. His county board voted in favour of the change.

By way of reply after Congress on Saturday, Director-General of the GAA Páraic Duffy stated that the proposal document had been published and launched last August, with a number of events since bringing it back into the limelight.

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