The county is back in the spotlight again today, this time concerning the GAA’s issue du jour, payments to managers. Our involvement in this particular can of worms arises from the allegation made on RTE radio yesterday evening by one-time wannabe Mayo bainisteoir Tommy Lyons who claimed that during the interview process for the Mayo job back in 2010 he was asked to detail the amount he wanted for the job, put it in an envelope (the number, not the moolah itself) and hand it to a “senior Mayo official”. Tommy further clarified that the official in question was the County Board Treasurer.
The Indo has the full story on it (here) including a predictably furious denial from then County Board Chairman James Waldron that any such grubby incident had ever happened. Waldron instead claims that any kind of money talk with applicants would have been limited to expenses (which I guess is what you’d expect him to say).
Now, I know as much as the rest of you as regards what did and didn’t happen in relation to this issue and what was said and what wasn’t in relation to money. I do recall that during the interview process the shortlisted candidates were all asked to provide details of their projected costs (this Mayo News report from the time confirms that this was the case). There is obviously, however, a wealth of difference (pardon the pun) between expenses and income and a man such as Tommy Lyons, who is reportedly not short of a bob, would presumably be able to tell one from the other. As a result, the claims he made yesterday are unlikely to be anything to do with crossed wires as regards what he was allegedly asked to do.
In attempting to disentangle the proverbial wood from the trees on this one, it’s obviously difficult to look beyond Tommy’s candidature for the Mayo job. Could the fact that he went for it (and don’t forget that he was odds-on to land the gig at one stage) and very publicly didn’t get it have any bearing on this revelation? It wouldn’t be the surprise of the century to find out that it had.
Or could it be that this whole thing is an end-to-end production by The Sunday Game? Oh look, there’s man-about-town Marty Morrissey swanning through the committee room at McHale Park on the Six One News breezily blathering on about the discussion on managers’ payments that took place in the same room the previous evening. Oh listen, there’s TSG panelist Tommy Lyons on RTÉ radio making a very specific allegation in relation to the same county that Marty did his report in just a few minutes before. Isn’t that all lovely and very convenient altogether?
But this still leaves the question about the allegation itself, the details of which Tommy was very specific yesterday evening. Notwithstanding James Waldron’s denials, it would be interesting to see what the man at whom the allegation has been levelled has to say on the matter.
A further report on the issue today contains a statement County Board PRO Aidan McLoughlin which, building on what James Waldron said, points the finger clearly in another direction. As well as categorically denying that any County Board officer offered Tommy a working wage, Aidan added “that’s not to say that somebody outside of a County Board officer didn’t approach Tommy Lyons with an offer of payment for his services”.
This could be getting to the nub of the issue. It would certainly square with the apparent way that Tommy Lyons’ candidacy for the job, as well as that of Mick O’Dwyer before him, was championed by shadowy figures (Dublin cabal, anyone?) who, one assumes, could well have been willing to put money on (or under) the table to get their man. On the radio yesterday evening, there was much discussion about how various supporters’ groups have stumped up cash to pay for managers and so it’s not stretching credulity to believe that this may have been the ultimate source of any offer made to Tommy Lyons to name his price.
The whole issue of payments to managers is one that has been shrouded in a murky mist for years and I suspect that in this case we’ll end up knowing as much as we do on the issue writ large, i.e. bugger all. My guess is that it will instead simply become another chapter in what is already a fairly opaque one for the GAA. Oh well, I’m sure proper enforcement of Option 2 will deal effectively with such cases in the future …