Is the GAA fit for purpose

Great craic this week watching the National broadcaster implode. It has been happening in plain sight for years really but nobody tackled it. Even the published salaries were ridiculously high. But sure … it’s Ireland. And now everyone’s having a laugh when really the victim is the licence payer and tax payer. Us. Politicians grandstanding now … its all a bit tiresome.

It got me thinking … is the GAA the next RTE? How is the corporate governance in HQ? How much accountability is there? The Association is making more money than ever but does that make everything alright? IMO the organisation has increasingly moved away from the grassroots – away from its very core – the volunteer. It appears that almost every decision made in Croke Park is based on one main criteria – money.

When Liam Mulvihill was Ard Stiúrthóir he was the unheralded main man. He oversaw the rebuild of Croke Park and that debt was repaid well ahead of schedule. There was no Sky money either. Now there are a number of suits in Jones Road making decisions that appear questionable with the top man appearing each year to say how much money the GAA made the previous year. But for the volunteers, the people on the ground, they that are the oil that greases a fine machine - it’s not about money at all. It’s about what’s best for our games and their promotion – the founding bedrock of the GAA. Isn’t it? Some recent events would make you wonder.

The promotion of our National competitions is frankly abysmal. If it wasn’t for sponsors advertising their involvement, the competitions might pass us by altogether. Nothing beats being there. Sure the games are on the television … well nearly. A few years ago the sanctity of broadcasting GAA matches was enshrined in legislation … it will always be free to air. Well the final will anyway. Maybe not forever. The rush to PPV is two fingers to volunteers IMO. It can be avoided if there is a willingness … but. The current broadcasting situation is frankly another PR disaster – another slap in the face for volunteers. In bed with RTE for GAAGouge … recipe for you know yourself. Are there shareholders in all of this? That would be good to know but who’s asking? Let’s get an Oireachtas Committee organised.

Thankfully here are no slush funds. There are no blazers jetting of to global GAA events. No plane loads going to the All Stars in Dubai. No junkets to Fenway to see 7 a side hurling. All of this is transparent anyway. Members can ask about these things and get details – costs, expenditure etc. Yes? Actually no – probably not. Never mind.

But at least the competitions themselves are in rude health. Ticketmaster ensures that everything runs smoothly. No more ticket headaches for HQ – not sure what the painkilling % is for this but sure when you’re making millions …. sure why not give Ticketmaster a share. Great lads. Its not like there’s dozens of people employed in HQ after all.

Then there’s the competitions themselves - captivating. Tons and tons of GAAGouge games to get rid of 4 teams. No ticket issues at these games. Tailteann Cup too – great fun. Open one stand for the semis and cause a health and safety issue with people leaving one game and others trying to get in for the second. But sure it saves money and the fans will be grand – sure aren’t they lucky to be in Croke Park at all.

And what about our officials. Now we can’t be critical of officials they are volunteers after all. Like the players. But it certainly appears that the more inept the officiating the bigger the reward. Time was when Dublin seemed to be on the end of all the poor officiating. Thankfully is now appears to be shared out. The same officials are now bemusing players and fans up and down the country. And getting bigger games after each abysmal performance. It’s like the Committay in Croker decided ‘well he can’t be that bad again’ … but fair play, these guys outdo their ineptitude with every game. But let’s ignore it. The players are only putting in hundreds of hours and we are only paying hundreds of euros … the refs are alright. Let them be. Don’t mention the accountability word.

Then there’s Hawkeye … fast becoming an English PL manager and seeing nothing. How much are we all paying for this? Maybe we should all go to Specsavers – with the umpires. Is anybody accountable?

The GAA appears to be at its most ‘professional’ ever … but is that reflected in the performance of the organisation? Don’t see it myself. It seems to me there is an ever increasing disconnect between the grassroot volunteer and those in command. I’d go a little further and suggest that there is a creeping disdain for those at the coalface.

The guy who marks the pitch for Burt hurling club in Donegal should have the same voice in the Association as Tom Ryan. The lady who makes sandwiches for a funeral party in Belmullet should be as important to the organisation as Peter McKenna. The child who pucks a ball for Carnew Emmets should be on a par with Larry McCarthy.

Is there adequate corporate governance? Is the GAA another RTE hiding in plain sight? Do we get to ask questions? Or are we just irritants …to be swatted away. Things are great lads – we made €XXm. It’s not about the money lads.

I sometimes think about Hayes Hotel and 1 November 1884. Is our Association being true to the ideals of Cusack, Davin, Bracken, St George McCarthy, Ryan, Wise-Power, and McKay. Don’t see it myself unfortunately …


Excellent piece @DUB09 , my sentiments entirely! The disconnect between Croke Park and the rest of the Association is getting wider day by day. The “professional” staff in HQ haven’t a clue about how the real GAA at works club level, they don’t have a feel or grá for the games or what the GAA stands for.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a need for some professional people but we have got ourselves into a situation where they have assumed all the authority and have centralised power at the expense of the membership. We need to correct the balance. It’s time for the membership to stand up and tell the whiz kids with the degrees etc that theory is fine, love of the games and experience are more important.
Until we do the day will come when they move on to new pastures leaving us with a damaged association that will struggle to regain its place in Irish sport.


At club level it is important to note that the ever increasing demands being placed on club resources, complying with all the rules, regulations, compliance matters and its the volunteers in many clubs who are stretched to limits.

Some of the bigger clubs already have full/part time admin employees in place.

In my own club many volunteers are approaching burn out trying to cope with the increasing demands….already have a number of administrative, Officer and Committee functions vacant/running on fumes…or just not being done at all…

The influx into clubs arising from the Dublin Wave, GPOs and increasing participation by females is fantastic at a GAA and society level….

GAA need to integrate all codes urgently and then integrate common admin platforms like Foireann to assist in reducing admin burdens on clubs.

Going further down the PPV route with GAAGO is pissing off many volunteers and older generation…


Good idea, GAAGO given FOC to all GAA clubs for free viewing by club members.

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Clubs are paying outside managers and coaches

Some have offered various inducements to players

I do get a pain in my arse at times listening to the poor old club scenario

A lot of them sold their souls to the devil a long time ago and blame the GAA for everything then

You couldn’t make it up .

All GAA GOs fault though because Ireland can’t organise a broadband network

The disconnect in the GAA happened long before pay for viewing GAA matches came in.

People are happy to support their clubs paying managers and even players but will raise high hell on a subscription model to watch some GAA games

Scratches head

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Name the players getting paid and when or if you run out of fingers , let me know
Don’t know one player personally getting paid

I was talking about the Admin side of running GAA Clubs and Croke Park needs to help out more.

Only minority of Dublin clubs are paying Managers and usually because nobody internally is wants to commit to the hours n commitment required for the task. Since Celtic Tiger days, not too many players are being paid or offered inducements. Open to correction on that, haven’t heard any solid facts…

A lot clubs at the top end of senior level countywide are paying coaches and managers .

We are comfortable with that it seems . They aren’t supposed to be getting paid

There are junior and intermediate clubs countrywide doing the same

County managers the same

I don’t see GAAGO as a disconnect from the traditions of the GAA

That battle was lost years ago in my opinion when the GAA and its members turned a blind eye to the nascent professional structure that already exists

Pay per view was inevitable

LJ in your previous post you said about paying “ even players “ you should either back that up or retract

I’m not retracting anything . Take it or leave it

So you can’t back it up , pathetic

Thank you . Have a nice day :slightly_smiling_face:

I will if your happy coming on here and making remarks about clubs paying players without any foundation, no evidence, just your usual bluster

Think you’ve embarrassed yourself on this one

Haven’t embarrassed anything Damo . Have a nice day :blush:. I know what I know .

I know what I know , what a defence

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Be a sad day Damo if I cared what you thought

It’s not about caring , it’s about having the courage to back up a pathetic statement, your post is cowardly and you’ve run a mile from backing it up
Rather doing so you’d prefer to deflect and turn this into a bitching session, well I’m not doing it , I leave others to view your post that clubs are PAYING players , I will leave it at that

Nothing cowardly at all about it and let’s see who contradicts it

You shouldn’t get so triggered on a Sunday morning

So you won’t post who’s getting paid but your proof is if no one contradicts it , well I have and I’ve put it to you to name the players , or tell you what name the club ???

This isn’t a court of law and you’re not the judge.

Where did I sign an obligation to you ?