Sarsfields Newsletter

November 8, 2018





The Weekly Online Newsletter of Sarsfields GAA Club

Sarsfields Players shine under lights in Omagh


Well done to Dermot Earley and league debutants Alan Smith and Gary White who were impressive in Kildare’s draw with Tyrone in Healey Park, Omagh on Saturday last. Dermot’s move to midfield was undoubtedly a big factor in Kildare’s second half dominance in which Kildare could have taken both points had they been a little more accurate in front of the posts. However conditions were very poor with a tricky cross wind, which had an equally advers effect on Tyrone’s first half shooting. Kildare will play Laois in the O’ Byrne Shield on Saturday night in Portlaoise and Galway in Newbridge in the league on Sunday week. 



Leinster GAA News
Pure madness


EACH year a beleaguered GAA board officer stares grimly at the annual balance sheet, points to the section covering county team expenditure and warns
of some financial Armageddon unless Croke Park steps in to arrest the trend
. Costs are soaring, even in unsuccessful counties. In the last couple of years spending on county teams teetered on the brink of a cool €20m.
Fundraising is a championship event in itself.

No surprise, then, that a two-month closed season, endorsed at Special Congress last weekend, will be warmly greeted by county boards as much as the intended beneficiaries — over-worked players. But in controlling the escalating spend on county teams, the battle is far from won. Some boards are budgeting for over €1m a year, the biggest expense being their county
teams, and there have been calls for more central intervention and a bigger
stake in the rising annual profits of Central Council.

Over a year ago, the then Kerry chairman Sean Walsh was looking to meet with Croke Park officials to demand more financial assistance. ‘There has
to be a complete rethink,’ he stated. In 2006, Cork had the biggest spend
— over €1.3m — and it is perhaps no great surprise that relations
between the county board and the two squads who create much of the financial headaches are not entirely harmonious.

Last year’s Central Council accounts contained a report from the National Financial Management Committee (NFMC) which found that county boards showed
increased team costs, notably in the area of medical expenses. The NFMC’s role is to monitor finances, advise on cash management, revenue-earning schemes and ensure ‘good financial practice’ at all levels. Counties are expect
ed to submit an annual budget by January 31 each year and their annual audited accounts by December 31 for review. It reports directly to the Management Committee and is chaired by Gene Duffy of Armagh.

Duffy says more county boards are now in the black and their financial affa
irs are more transparent and regulated than five years ago. He also outlines where the GAA’s annual income, around €60m, according to the latest estimates for 2008, is going. By their calculations, there will be a bud
get surplus of less than €300,000 at the end of this year.

Higher expenditure on county teams won’t surprise anyone who has seen the G
AA expand in every direction over the last ten years. In 1997, the GAA announced that 40 per cent of county boards were living beyond their means. Along with the 40 per cent found to be ‘technically insolvent’, 25 county boards were spending more than twice their total sponsorship income on county teams. It has got a lot more serious since then.

In 2006, GAA president Nickey Brennan said the cost of running the 32 counties’ teams would be close to €20m. ‘That’s at least a 50-60 per cent increase on five years ago,’ he noted. ‘The costs are continuing to rise
while the level of income has levelled off to some degree. It is becoming more difficult for county officers to run things within the available income
they have. They get a certain amount of income from Croke Park in grants and help, but they can’t be looking to Croke Park as a primary source of income. We should be a secondary source of income to counties and will continue to help them.’

The €11m being spent by county boards on their teams in 2002 represented a 25 per cent increase on the previous year but the costs have almost
doubled since then. None of these amounts takes stock of the funds raised
separately by supporters’ clubs and other benefactors. A factor in that startling increase was the decision taken in 2002 to allow county panels expand from 24 to 30.

Despite the claims that last weekend’s Special Congress has tilted the balance back in favour of club concerns over county, former GAA president Sean McCague remains unsure. ‘I think there is a shift in perception tha
t this is necessary but how that impacts on the one person pulling the strings, the manager, remains to be seen. I am not optimistic but I sincerely hope it will be policed by the provincial councils. If that is the case, then I think a reality check might set in alright.

‘I saw that Dublin had reconvened training but their players had been working individually on weight programmes. It’s like children looking at the next plate; they see more goodies on the other child’s plate. I think there is
a fallacy out there that if you have 120 training sessions it is twice as
good as having 60. I don’t think counties will flaunt the closed season rule in the short term but they may find ways of getting around the ban on training holidays before the Championship. They might sell them as a holiday rather than a hardship break.’

The two-month sabbatical could save counties up to €40,000 in prepa
ration costs. The saving on foreign training holidays, which have been curt
ailed as a result of a separate motion, is likely to be less pronounced as
they are usually funded outside of the normal county board budget. Duffy said there might be a saving as a result of the decision to restrict development squad training sessions.

Around €6m will be distributed to the counties this year to help them meet the cost of running county teams which can run up to several hundred thousand euros. That contribution equates to between €140-160,000
for each county, depending on various criteria. Twelve counties have been
identified as being ‘developmental’ and in need of more funds. Counties that go further in the Championship will stand to gain more than €160,000.

Duffy stressed that there were other outlays, which needed to be factored in.
 Over €10m is being spent on games development in all counties. Player welfare accounts for a further €3m. Up to €26m will be
spent on capital grants, covering county, club, regional and overseas projects. ‘It’s not all about giving monies to counties. Successful counties have to raise a lot of additional finance themselves. We have to balance it out, so that all counties get good treatment. We must be shown to be spending money in other ways as well.’

In 2005, when annual spending by county boards reached almost €17m,
former GAA president Peter Quinn described the rate of increase as ‘pure madness’.

‘Counties are stretching themselves to the very limit,’ Quinn declared. ‘As
well as allowing team costs to soar, many are committing themselves to establishing Centres of Excellence and other capital expenditures. The demographics don’t always support those plans.’

The Strategic Review Committee report earlier in the decade called for a ‘new, strong, regulatory environment’ emanating from Central Council that should be accompanied by ‘an effort to convince counties that they must accept
responsibility for their own operational affairs and that they should not
anticipate being ‘bailed out’ by higher units.’

But while Gene Duffy says county boards are performing more in tandem with
the GAA’s wishes, there are always exceptions. The debt-ridden Westmeath football board was recently relieved of its financial independence after creating massive debts of €584, 492. The board chairman Des Maguire criticised Croke Park for insufficient funding, but Westmeath got almost €213,000.

Roscommon declared itself €1.5m in debt in 2005 and the chairman of
the county board departed, leaving Croke Park to pick up the pieces. A loc
al businessman and benefactor stepped in with a €1m interest-free l
oan to ease the burden. A similar tale of financial compassion unfolded in
Limerick in the same year, with JP McManus coming to the aid of a cash-stra
pped county board that had spent €747,000 on their county teams at
all levels. The previous year McManus donated €5m to the redevelopment of the Gaelic Grounds.

Wexford County Board overspent by €108,000 in 2007, with increased
team expenses contributing largely. Figures presented by outgoing treasurer
Jim Ferguson to the recent county convention showed county team expenses h
ad risen dramatically from €511,177 in 2006 to €679,974 this year. Players’ travelling expenses were €174,498, almost €80,000 was spent on catering and over €48,000 on hotel expenses.
The convention was also told that the recent holiday to Miami for the senior squads cost €82,000, while in 2006 a figure of less than €5,000 was spent on a holiday in Ireland.

Cork’s financial report for 2007 showed inter-county team expenses rose to
€1.42m, up from €1.32m the previous year. Players’ travelling expenses amounted to €210,000, up from €176,000, while other expenses such as team travel and accommodation also increased.

With the economy in slow-down it seems unlikely that the money spent on county teams can continue rising. And in light of last weekend’s Special Congress, perhaps the tide is beginning to turn for the much put-upon county treasurer.




Warring factions remember: games belong to the people


By Eugune McGee


NO individual person or committee owns the GAA. Not the Central Council, the Provincial Councils, county boards, not even the Cork county board. Nor do inter-county players, no matter how important they believe themselves to
be. The GAA belongs to the people who are members of the organisation as well as the huge number of non-members who follow the games at all levels.

Indeed, that is the greatest single reason why the GAA has been so successful for the past 124 years, the fact that it draws its sources from the ordinary people of Ireland on whom it can always depend on for support. That iswhy the GAA is as strong and potent a force of everyday life in counties like Carlow, Longford and Fermanagh, who rarely achieve success at inter-county level, as it is in powerful counties like Cork, Kerry, Tyrone, Kilkennyor Meath.

Staunch GAA supporters believe they have a tiny share in the ownership of t
he organisation — and they are correct in that. Of all the sports organisations in this country it is the GAA that is first and foremost the sport of
the people.

 A lot has been written and spoken in recent weeks about the fracas in Cork
GAA with the emphasis on the two main factions, the senior county players a
nd the Cork county board. However, hardly any attention has been given to t
he most important component of Cork GAA, the ordinary followers of football
and hurling throughout the length and breath of Ireland’s largest county.
For over a century GAA games have thrived because of the enormous loyalty o
f followers of the games at club and county level. Nowhere has that been mo
re obvious than in Cork and particularly in hurling. Gaelic games belong to
the people and that is what all sides in Cork would do well to remember.

Cork county board or the senior hurlers and footballers DO NOT OWN the Cork
county teams. The teams belong to the general membership of the GAA in Cork. Therefore both the county board and the players can rightly be said to have behaved in a disgraceful manner in recent weeks.

They are treating the senior teams as if they were their personal property
and are using them as weapons in an ongoing civil war which has simmered aw
ay in Cork for decades, occasionally bursting out into open warfare as in 2
002 and now. Most of us can remember a string of controversies in Cork going back to the ‘Three Stripes Affair’ in the 1970s which centred on a row over Cork players wearing Adidas boots.

What the two parties are now doing is hijacking the good name of Cork county GAA teams for their own selfish reasons. The famous blood-and-bandage jersey of the county, which has so often been worn with pride by some of the greatest hurlers and footballers we have ever seen, is being dragged in the
gutter by people who would probably swear that they would be prepared to la
y down their lives for the Cork jersey. But on the evidence of recent weeks
they would be total hypocrites to say so. How can the Cork hurlers who have achieved such fame, popularity and personal satisfaction from their magnificent achievement in recent years now be party to making Cork GAA a laughing stock all over Ireland?

And how can the members of the Cork county board executive come out and say
they are running the GAA in Cork for the betterment of ALL GAA members whe
n their behaviour is besmirching the whole ethos of Cork GAA. Current count
y players, or county board officers in any county, are not owners of the GA
A who can use or abuse it as they see fit. They are merely temporary custodians of the organisation for a short period. Their duty is to abide by and
build on the traditions of the county built-up over the years by former players and officers. And no county in Ireland has a greater store of tradition or such a collection of former great players as Cork. Do the present Cork
county board officers or the present players really believe that they are
fulfilling their responsibility in this regard?


As far as I, and most people outside of Cork are concerned, both sides are
equally to blame for the present fiasco which, by the way, is doing serious
damage to the GAA as a whole and not just to Cork. The matters in dispute
are not of earth-shattering, life-or-death importance to either side.

In most other counties both parties would be put sitting down at two sides
of a long table and a chairman would insist they remain there until they hammered out a solution.

This is what happened when Offaly’s football team had a major bust-up with
the county board a few years ago and I happened to be the person in the chair. The meetings were rough, very rough at times, but a solution was worked
out. But then Offaly GAA egos may not be as big as Cork egos!

Because they have been elected to run GAA affairs in the county to the highest possible standard there is a greater onus on the county board to stop this nonsense.

Apart from the damage being done to the proud tradition of Cork GAA, the matter is now beginning to affect the wider GAA scene. Meath footballers were
left without a game on the opening weekend of the National League and thereby deprived of revenue from the home match they were scheduled to have wit
h Cork. If the footballers and hurlers do not take part in this year’s Leagues there will be further problems.

In football it will mean that only one county will be relegated from Division 2 while two from the other three divisions will face the drop. That can
hardly be fair. In hurling, if Cork are relegated from Division 1 it make a
dogs dinner of Division 2 next season.

The amount of negative coverage the GAA as a whole is receiving from this Cork debacle is grossly unfair to the other 31 counties at a time when the G
AA had been doing well in the media business. As an important constituent o
f the overall GAA family, Cork GAA has a duty to stop this collateral damage to the parent body and to do so they must set aside their own selfish positions for the overall good.

In particular, the ordinary GAA follower in Cork, of which there must be up
to 100,000, should not be embarrassed by their own leading officers and players in this manner.

These people are the real owners of the GAA and it is their voluntary work
at club and schools level which provides both county players and board officials with the material and resources to produce the many glorious Cork tea
ms over the years.

Neither party in this dispute has any moral right to refuse to swallow their pride in order to stop it. All they need is the moral courage to do so and it is a sad reflection on both parties in our greatest GAA county that they seem to lack that.


Public are sick and tired of the shambles in Cork
By Slán go Fóill Saturday February 2nd, 2008

I SAT down on Saturday night to watch the Derry v. Down McKenna Cup final on television and within ten minutes had switched over to watch a film about
the late Bobby Kennedy. Why? Because the standard of football being produced by the two teams, who are supposed to be in flying form, was absolutely

A single point scored in the opening ten minutes because of some terrible s
hooting on both sides prompted the question, do players practice that skill
anymore? I was almost speechless as I watched so-called stars, with clear
chances of scores on their weak side, trying to turn onto their strong foot
to shoot and being easily blocked down.

Has Gaelic football now come to this, that the intercounty stars can’t even
perform the most basic of skills? Has running and hand-passing completely
taken over to the detriment of skills like shooting or being equally adept
at kicking with both feet? The very same thing happened in Dunmanway on Sun
day when the Carbery All-Star footballers showed what fine footballers they
are, in the first half, but could only score a single point in half an hour.

These were the cream of West Cork football failing miserably to do the basic skill of putting the ball over the crossbar. If this is what we are going
to see in Gaelic football this season, then roll on the hurling where mastery of the basic skills really does make the difference between winning and
losing, and not how fast you can run or how far.

While that was going on special Congress was deciding not to interfere with
the minor and under-21 grades. The suggestion that they should be replaced
by a single under-19 grade was well defeated and maybe just as well. The proposal was aimed at preventing burn-out of young players but once again what was left unsaid was that the burn-out is only happening with the elite p
layers and the ordinary Joe-soap relying on games with his club is not even
considered. It’s not burn-out that is affecting the majority of players but lack of regular games during the best months of the year. That is the issue that should be worrying Croke Park, not burn-out among the elite.

That said, we do have a tendency to overuse our young minors just because t
hey are living at home and are always available to fill slots in league games, etc. I have seen older players left on the sideline while good young minors are played and that surely is not right. Adult grades should be for adult players, especially in leagues, secondary competitions and challenge games. I was delighted to see that Congress also decided that adult league games cannot be postponed because the good minor is not available.

The suggestion that minor and under-21 should be replaced by a single under
-19 grade was never a runner. It would mean that you would have three years
of players, after under-16, competing for places on a single minor team. Imagine the drop-out rate of seventeen year-olds who wouldn’t get a single gamfor the season? Likewise, there would be nowhere to go for the average
20 year old who wouldn’t be good enough for the adult grades.

Of course the spotlight was also on Cork over the weekend with Kieran Mulvey doing his best to broker a deal in the players’ strike. I still can’t get
my mind around how amateur players, playing our games for the love of it,
can actually go on strike. To say the public is sick and tired of the whole
thing at this stage is a huge under-statement, especially the actions and
statements of the players.

Sean Óg Ó hAilpín is a hero with every Cork supporter but that he even dare suggest that the removal of Frank Murphy might facilitate a settlement beggars belief. The cheek of him to even suggest such a course of action
against one of Cork’s greatest GAA men and the cheek of the players who are suggesting that this is not a personality issue but still want Teddy Holland removed as manager. The players are now becoming so ludicrous, it is embarrassing.

Having been granted the concessions of having a representative on the Count
y Board and a special selector of their own, they then demanded that they g
et a rep on the executive. Where will it all stop and how far will the Boar
d have to go in future years to satisfy the players? I can honestly and tru
thfully say that I have yet to meet a single person who supports the player
s in their demands. They have absolutely no support from the public and the
ir latest statements and actions means whatever credibility they might have
had, is now gone.

It is shameful that Cork GAA has to bring in a neutral to solve its problem
s. They have now bestowed union status on the players by doing this and the
GPA officials must be smiling all the way to the bank. Don’t think for one
second that a solution to this crisis will be the end of the matter. The b
ad feeling created, especially by the actions of the players, will linger and the respect that these players have built up in recent years, especially
the hurlers, is fast disappearing.

What will the relationship between the players and the County Board be like
when the players go back to playing? What respect will the players show to
Teddy Holland if he stays on? The whole affair is now so sad. It’s a sad time for the GAA in Cork and it makes us sad to think that the good name of
the county is being dragged in the mud like this. Cork has been to the fore
front of the GAA for over a hundred years but now we are in the news for al
l the wrong reasons.

It was most interesting to hear Waterford hurler, big Dan Shanahan, commenting on the issue when he stated he wasn’t sure what the Cork players were a
bout as they were very well looked after and that there was no shortage of
sponsored cars, etc, available to them. Spot on, Dan. What we now have is a
bunch of players who, having won the strike issue in 2002, think they can
run GAA affairs in the county and dictate their terms to all and sundry.

They claim they are taking this action for the future of all Cork, players
but what they are really achieving is a destruction of the pride that should go with the wearing of the red jersey. I have been involved in the GAA in
many areas for more years than I care to remember and in all that time I h
ave had to follow the rules to achieve anything. Threatening to strike never came into the equation when we failed to get what we were looking for. The Cork players have introduced an unwanted element into the GAA in Cork and
the association is poorer for it.

When will the clubs, so miserably treated by the Board at times, go on strike? When will the club players, who have been treated with disdain by all and sundry, go on strike? When will the under age mentors, who often have to
put their hands in their own pockets to finance their teams, go on strike?
When will the schoolteachers, who are still waiting endlessly for coaching
help in the schools, go on strike?

What the county players are doing now is unacceptable and is little short o
f blackmail. The Board has given enough, it is time to call the players’ bluff and if Cork has to forego a year’s competitions, so what? This is a struggle for power in Cork GAA, pure and blatant, and at present the Board is
doing all the giving. I, for one, would seriously consider my membership of
the GAA if the Cork County Board gives in to the players any further.

We all know what the solution to this problem will eventually be. Teddy Hol
land will step down because he won’t have any team to train and his positio
n will be untenable and so the players will win again. Whether Holland was
foolish or otherwise in accepting the position is irrelevant. It was done legally and according to the rules and the players have to accept that. Forcing Holland and his co-selectors out now is merely backing down to the players again and the County Board, i.e., the clubs of the county, will have lost more ground. Holland will end up the fall guy in all this.

What will the next demand be? We all know that pay for play is like a train
roaring down the tracks at us and will another strike force the County Boa
rd to give in on that issue too? This is not the GAA I joined, the association in which all were equal partners. It is now becoming an elite association and one only has to look at the luxury available to some in Croke Park on big match days to realise this. Now we have the intercounty players endeavouring to set themselves above the rules that all the rest of us have to follow and to become an elite group within the association. Arrogance, and not pride, now seems to be the emotion that accompanies wearing the county jersey.

There can be no winners in this ugly dispute. We are all losers from what has been allowed to happen, no matter what solution is reached.

With the West Cork leagues imminent, starting with the football on February
17th, clubs will be praying that the bad weather we experienced in January
will relent and that pitches will be playable. Hard to believe it’s all systems go again for 2008, despite what is happening at County Board level, and some clubs are still finding it hard to put mentors in place for the new
season. The whole thing has become so serious now, with the Celtic Tiger philosophy of success and more success now pervading all aspects of life including sport.

If a team fails to achieve in any season who shoulders the blame at the end? The manager/coach is the fall guy and who wants that burden on his shoulders? Too much is now expected of mentors, from players and supporters alike
, and it’s not surprising that clubs are finding it so difficult to fill those positions. Over the coming months we’ll be looking at the various people in charge of the top teams in the division and talking to some of them to
find out what the pressures are and why they make themselves available for
those thankless positions.

They tell us that the Congress last week was a victory for the clubs but ho
w do you equate that with the fact that before a ball is ever kicked in league or championship this season, there is already a problem with fixtures.
Attempts to start the under-21 A football championship on the first weekend
in March, to meet unrealistic county deadlines, have run into trouble because of possible college matches and any efforts to go later in March will r
un foul of the county under-21 team. The more we try to solve our problems
the more problems we seem to create. Who would want to be a Board officer?
The great thing is that there never seems to be a shortage of candidates for those positions.

For that matter, who would want to step into Teddy Holland’s position if he
is forced to step down? Guaranteed, there is somebody out there willing to
take on the job and the GAA will continue on when all these players, and t
he rest of us, are well past our sell-by dates. If only we could all realise that we are mere temporary caretakers of a great association and that the
re is an onus on all of us to pass it on to the next generation in at least
as good a state as it was handed on to us.




Paddy the Englishman, Paddy the Irishman, Paddy the Scotsman, and Paddy the Welshman were all flying together in an airliner. The captain announced that they were losing altitude rapidly and that one of them would have to jump out to save the others.

‘I do this for the glory of Scotland,’ said Paddy the Scotsman and he jumped out.

‘We need to lose more weight,’ said the captain, so Paddy the Welshman shouted, ‘I do this for the glory of Wales,’ and jumped out.

‘Sorry,’ said the captain. ‘I’m afraid we need to lose the weight of just one more person.’

‘I do this for the glory of Ireland,’ said Paddy the Irishman and threw out Paddy the Englishman.


An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut. The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. He says, ‘Sir, have you been drinking?’

‘Just water,’ says the priest. The trooper says, ‘Then why do I smell wine?’

The priest looks at the bottle and says, ‘Good Lord! He’s done it again!’


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