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Ulster GAA manager 'on £35k a year', says Antrim star

By Jackie Cahill

Antrim player Kevin McGourty has revealed that he is aware of a member of a senior inter-county football management team in Ulster who will receive a whopping £35,000 (approximately €42,000) for his services this year.

"There is one guy on £35,000 for the year and I have heard that from sources close to where I have very good contacts," he claimed.

McGourty's astonishing revelation comes at a time when the payments to managers debate continues to rage and will bring the issue back to the top of the GAA agenda. And McGourty has sent further shock waves through the Association by insisting that the time has also come to pay inter-county players.

McGourty, sidelined with a serious knee injury, is renowned for his honesty and he has pulled no punches with a clinical analysis of Gaelic football and the Association in general.

The 29-year-old, who is studying for a PhD in politics from UCD, has been a member of the Antrim panel, on and off, for over a decade. The pinnacle of McGourty's career, however, came at club level when he helped St Gall's to All-Ireland glory in 2010.

He has become increasingly disillusioned by the defensive nature of Gaelic football and described Donegal's style of play en route to an All-Ireland semi-final appearance last year as "pure and utter rubbish."

But it is McGourty's insistence that one of Ulster's leading mentors is being rewarded handsomely for his services that will set tongues wagging across the country. And he has warned the GAA that if top coaches are recognised as being properly qualified, European legislation allows them to take a wage from any club or county team.

McGourty explained: "If I'm a GAA coach coming out of the BA in sports and exercise course (GAA) at Carlow IT, I have the right work anywhere within the EU. And that course is endorsed by the GAA and Leinster Council. I then have the right to take money out of any club because EU legislation supersedes anything the GAA have to say.

"Most senior clubs pay their managers. And I don't think you'll get too many people saying that I'm wrong. It's well-known around Ulster. It's happening right across the board at club and county level and the only thing we can do is regulate it."

McGourty insists that with managers being paid, the natural progression is that players will be next.

He said: "Down the line, yes, because you look at the preparation that players go through now. But the most important point is the pressure they're under.

"For a top player in Kerry, the pressure is there to win All-Irelands, which is a different pressure to a player in Antrim, for example, who has the pressure of being an inter-county player with the spotlight being shone on him.

"The time has now come to endorse them in some way."

McGourty is a former Sigerson Cup winner with Queen's University, Belfast. But he was left cold after attending last Wednesday's Sigerson Cup tie between Queen's and NUI Maynooth at the Dub.

McGourty was also critical of the way the game is going: "His (McGuinness) tactics last year... my granny is from Donegal and she'll be upset with me for this, but if anybody wanted Donegal to win the All-Ireland, they weren't a fan of Gaelic football.

"It was pure and utter rubbish. At one stage in the All-Ireland semi-final, Michael Murphy was at centre-back, then onto midfield and half-forward.

"I looked down the field at one stage and Colm McFadden was the only Donegal player inside the opposition '45'. That's not Gaelic football."

Belfast Telegraph

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