Under pressure

Photo: lbcommuter.com

As you’re all well aware, the story about the dispute between the County Board and the Mayo GAA Foundation continues to rumble on, with the questions raised by the latter set to be discussed at the next Board meeting, which is scheduled for this coming Wednesday evening.

At the same meeting next week, the barely credible no-show by Mayo GAA at last weekend’s Special GAA Congress in Cork will also, one imagines, be a hot topic of conversation. While the two issues are separate and distinct, their coincident occurrence suggests a linkage, one that, in turn, speaks to a wider concern. This relates to the pressure many voluntary officials within the GAA are coming under at the present time, a time of immense change in the organisation.

A piece in the Irish Independent earlier this week by Donnchadh Boyle (here) picked up on this theme. While our travails have got plenty of exposure in the national media of late, we’re far from the only county feeling the heat in relation to our off-field operations. The huge jump in costs and revenues facing County Boards everywhere this decade, along with increasing complexities in dealing with things like health and safety at sporting events, management of sponsorships, corporate governance and more, have placed an enormous burden on unpaid, voluntary officials.

Issues facing County Boards everywhere have changed out of all proportion in recent years, in particular for that small band of counties – ourselves included – who have striven to keep pace with the 800 lb. blue gorilla that enjoys seemingly limitless financial resources and has none of the money worries that keep the rest awake at night. But despite all this change, the same County Board structures – which worked okay in more benign times of old – are being asked to oversee a radically different and more challenging environment.

We’re not markedly different in this respect compared to many other counties. Our structures haven’t changed, we still largely do things – for good and ill – the way we always did. But what has changed for us in the last decade is that on-field our performance levels have shot up. That hugely welcome development from a playing perspective has injected into the system a whole new range of requirements that have had to be administered, resourced and supported. That this has at times proven to be a challenge shouldn’t be seen as a surprise: it would have been a greater shock if it hadn’t.

At the core of all this flux – not just in Mayo, but right across the island – is a push-pull between the amateur ethos in which the GAA is rooted and the brash, commercially-minded approach at the top – both on the field and off – which is straining to shift the GAA’s axis towards a world where money talks, and loudly. At club level, the GAA still exists pretty much in the same way as it always did – and in every parish it continues to be the glue that helps to stick this country together – whereas at inter-county level the march towards professional standards and structures has become all but unstoppable. It’s still one organisation but it’s now a machine with different parts moving in diametrically opposite directions.

It’s a tussle that threatens to pull the GAA, as we all know it, asunder. How far will professionalism go? How far, indeed, should it be allowed to go? How can the voluntarism that has sustained the GAA for well over a century be expected not just to survive but to underpin and support all this professionalism and its attendant demands? Will this voluntarism be sufficient to ensure that clubs keep running? What about the volunteers elected to serve on County Boards?

It’s at County Board level where the two opposing trends within the GAA today come face-to-face. The elected Board Officers are answerable to the clubs – this is, after all, still a democratic organisation – but it’s the inter-county game that’s box office, which means it’s also the insatiable beast that needs constant feeding.

Because of this, County Boards up and down the country are straining under the weight of responsibility thrust on them. Most are doing what they can to support their clubs, while having to look to these same clubs – as well as any other sources of funding they can lay their hands on – to pay the bills that keep coming in. All the while not forgetting about whatever day jobs and personal lives they might happen to have.

It has all the appearance of a powder keg. Mike Connelly said so himself – in that Indo piece linked above, he’s quoted as saying that “officers today are under serious pressure just to keep the whole show running” and that much of their time is spent firefighting.

The current concerns within Mayo GAA are, I believe, at least in part a symptom of this wider problem facing the organisation nationally. Sure, the particular dispute facing the County Board needs to be sorted – and my view has always been that quiet diplomacy is the best way to do this, as the megaphone rarely triumphs in this sphere – but it also needs to be recognised, from the top within the GAA, that County Boards across the whole island need help and they need it urgently.

If John Horan were better able to read the pulse of the organisation he currently heads a bit more accurately, it’s this unfolding crisis he’d have turned his attention to rather than the vanity project which got approval at the Special Congress down in Cork last weekend. In retrospect, maybe our county not being represented there could be viewed as an apposite metaphor for all that’s out of whack within the GAA right now.

57 thoughts on “Under pressure

  1. The main problem as I see it is that we(club members) are electing officials because they are either popular or were a star player 30 years ago. What we should be doing is looking to people who have a) Ran a business b) Work in a multi national c) Have a financial/operations background. Their are loads of the above in our parishes, in our clubs and indeed on the sidelines at underage games. Until the mindset changes things will stay the same. This is not the fault of elected officers. It’s a similar situation with politics, Healy Raes and 1000s more at local level. They effectively win a popularity contest.

  2. A well-written piece WJ that I agree with completely. Things are reaching breaking point with regard to the professional approach required to attempt to keep within sight of Dublin (never mind match them) versus the amateur (and I use the term literally, not as some sort of insult) structure of most County Boards – not including Dublin who have a CEO.
    You’re quite right that HQ need to take a stand on this one way or the other. If it’s left to individual counties to appoint professional CEOs, that will happen in a handful of cases (maybe including Mayo, maybe not), while the majority will be left amateur, and presumably will fall further and further adrift from the professionally-run counties.
    Is that the aim? The professional counties end up playing for Sam, the amateur counties play for the Tier 2 cup?

  3. Donkey gate has shown us once again that these lads are not fit for purpose , I don’t even blame the officials in charge , I blame the nodding dogs sent up from the clubs who vote them in year after year.

    Here we have a donor who any other county would give their right arm for. he is committed to raising and donating 100s of thousannds of euro to mayogaa and what does he get ? Abuse! because he has the temerity to ask for receipts for his previous donations and a plan for his future donations.

    Willie Joe I accept your thesis that volunteers are overwhelmed all over the country due to events beyond their control or their expertise but this is just basic human decency and cannot be excused.

    This county board will weather this one just as they have weathered all the other disgraceful issues that have occurred but that is not an indicator of their competence but rather an indictment of the structures that keep them in place.

    To echo the words of Paddy Donegan , the Mayo county board are a thundering disgrace

  4. To be honest, Roger, I’m more interested in stimulating debate on this issue rather than providing an opportunity for people to have a go at the usual targets. How, for example, would you go about improving matters?

  5. Good read that WJ .. Unfortunately whether club or county. Money is a huge part of our game now . Think Mr O Leary is entitled to question where his money went and agree that the county board email calling him a donkey was pure stupid and unprofessional.
    I wonder how pissed off is he or does he want more say in the financial aspects of the co board . In my new adopted club , we have a parent who’s also a coach . He is very generous to the club financially but holds way too much sway in the running of the club ,while not being on the executive committee.
    Hopefully the county board , with the aid of the new financial administration, they can sit down and work this out .
    Perhaps we need more full time employees at co board level, while this might incur more cost , it could in time pay for itself.
    It’s a pity that with the great work being done with our club and county footballers that it’s more negative news that’s coming out of Mayo.

  6. The introduction of sky spelled disaster too.
    The gaa as a whole is like one big train.
    Accept now carriages are being uncoupled and left behind. I agree with all wj article above. But where the fuck will it all end ?
    Money is the root of all evil. Take it away. Take it away. Take it away.

  7. The inter county game is on course for a massive day of reckoning.

    The costs of running county teams are spiralling every year, the levels of fundraising required needed every year for a county are simply unsustainable. Its not just in Mayo, there are similar storms brewing in Galway/Clare and countless other counties at the moment.
    Couple this with boards who (for all their noble intentions) are incapable of medium/long term planning or just lack general business acumen. Its another area in which the dubs are way ahead of everyone, John Costello is a serious operator and their board is stacked with brain power and planning expertise.

    administration and fund management has basically become too big for most county boards to handle, HQ need to step in and appoint someone to assist counties in this area.

    John Horan might just be the worst GAA president in my lifetime, such a disappointment because he talked such a good game when he came in. He is making the strong teams stronger and rushing through poorly thought out changes just so he can secure a legacy.

    More and more, the club game is where its at for me.

  8. I would create a written constitution for the county board including all the regulations that are dictated by the GAA but inserting term limits on all senior appointments. Chair , vice chair , sec, vice sec , etc etc
    I would have a one year term for each role with only a former assistant being apply to apply for the senior role . i.e only assistant treasurer can apply for treasurer.
    an incompetent officer would be removed by term limit should the nominees not have the guts to remove them. A good officer could give 8 years to mayo gaa

    I would also enshrine in this constitution that the complete county board accounts be made available online every year , not just a balance sheet and profit and loss but all receipts for every outgoing and information on every revenue stream and sponsorship deal . commercial sensitivity be damned . if the sponsor will not agree with this then get another sponsor. transparency is the only solution .

    I would gut the expenses given to officials . A rate of mileage and a meal voucher only . For the new York or London trips only the officer themselves are paid for with spouses having to pay their own trip if they are travelling. we are either a voluntary organisation or we are not .

  9. WJ when you say the following……

    At the core of all this flux – not just in Mayo, but right across the island – is a push-pull between the amateur ethos in which the GAA is rooted and the brash, commercially-minded approach at the top – both on the field and off – which is straining to shift the GAA’s axis towards a world where money talks, and loudly. At club level, the GAA still exists pretty much in the same way as it always did – and in every parish it continues to be the glue that helps to stick this country together – whereas at inter-county level the march towards professional standards and structures has become all but unstoppable.

    I think it’s imperative that we remember that Mr. O’Leary’s commitment to club football, in Mayo, with Burrishoole precedes, his involvement at the County Level.

  10. This piece isn’t about specific donors, Raiftearai, nor is it intended to be interpreted as such. Club football obviously needs funding as well and, of course, the same kinds of pressures for resources at the upper levels in club football are starting to become apparent too.

  11. There is ‘Greasy Pole’ in GAA politics… Mayo County Board had delagates at the Convention that voted on the ‘Donegal Motion’ to take the so called ‘Neutral’ Dublin Super Eight’s Game out of Croke Park.. What way did Mayo Vote? And that is one of the less controversial questions the Board has yet to answer!… Undoubtedly, questions will be asked next week… How far can we go back asking questions, … There are questions relating to the expensive redevelopment of what was then known as just MacHale Park, without any Sponcer Prefix in the name…. One of the less asked questions in regards to the redevelopment of MacHale Park, was the ‘Watch Tower’ built on the MacHale Road side of the Pitch, without planning permission, to the great displeasure of the MacHale Road residents..Who signed off on this? And what officer’s of the current board were on the board back then?…. …Of course it had to be removed, but added to the conciderable overall cost of an already very expensive redevelopment…. The repayment of which is now millstone around the necks of all involved in the GAA in Mayo, especially the Club’s!… The last communication for the Tim O Leary chaired Mayo Foundation has many really serious question’s .., I have no doubt the many of the National GAA journalist’s who were at Special Congress in Cork and missed their chance to ask some questions of Mayo delagate’s those very questions, because of a Mayo no show, .. However they will be in Mayo next week and still looking for answers… They will need Copy for the Newspaper’s…. Can the administration of Mayo GAA continue like this?

  12. A Time For Change ….

    Much of what you say is correct WJ in terms of how the GAA organisation has moved forward. It is a very different organisation now to what it was 10 years ago. You are also correct in that Dublin have, with the support of the GAA and our Governments set a very different agenda which in many ways contradicts what the GAA stands for. The GAA top table and those in a leadership role within Dublin GAA talk with a forked tongue when they try and explain Dublin’s success as one based on volunteerism and not acknowledge the contribution of financial resources and professional structures to support those same Volunteers.

    Dublin are where they are today not just because of money, not just because of their volunteers, not just because of the GAA, not just because of Bertie Ahern and not because of its population. They are where they are today because of its Leadership and their Vision. It is as a consequence of this leadership that Dublin is the success that it is today and it is as a consequence of a lack of leadership that Mayo is in the mess that it is in today.

    Let’s not dwell on the ideals of volunteerism as the route cause of our mess but instead focus on the lack of leadership both on an individual basis and on a group basis within our County Board as the real reason for our current mess.

    Let’s not forget that the Horan Strategic Report which was published at a similar time to the Blue Way in Dublin identified the issues which our county faced and put forward credible proposals to try and deal with what it felt might happen in the future. So we actually had a vision to match Dublin but we didn’t have the leadership to support or execute on that vision. In Dublin they had and as a consequence they have won 7 all Ireland’s this decade and will most likely win 7 more in the next decade.

    What Tim O’Leary and the Foundation has proven is that we don’t actually need an AIG in Mayo. We have Mayo people all over the world who could dwarf AIG’s contribution and do so not for any personal or corporate gain but for a deep love of their native County. That’s what exists and this can only be harnessed if we have strong and credible leadership.

    Let’s not forget that an Officer of Mayo GAA personally insults the largest personal donor in the history of Mayo GAA by calling him a Donkey. An individual who personally donated €415,000 in 12 months and raised hundreds of thousands more is humiliated for his contributions and efforts and the other 4 Officers stand by and do nothing. This same Officer maybe a volunteer but it is no excuse for what is behaviour unbecoming of our County and its people. Leadership?

    So to is the lack of response from the other Officers who also failed in their duty to uphold the values we have as a County and as a people. Just imagine how an apology might have averted this awful mess that we are now in. Leadership?

    Then those same Officers try and bluff their way out of this mess by saying that they didn’t get an email or they wouldn’t be involved if things weren’t right. Leadership?

    Those same Officers who we as a county have entrusted with the responsibility to represent our affairs at national level fail in their duty to represent our proud county at Special Convention. Leadership?

    I could go on and present many more examples of poor leadership and I might just do that at another time.

    This is not about Volunteerism WJ. This is about Leadership. A quality which is seriously lacking in our Board at senior level.

  13. That is the BEST post i ever read on this blog Lily of the Glen. Six weeks on and still no answers/response. Us fans are so frustrated. We only want the best for our teams and for people to be treated properly. Even the delay in a public apology to Tim O’Leary is appalling. Any other county would love a benefactor like him – yet he is treated terribly by the Mayo County Board.

  14. I see Eugene Rooney has now sent a letter about bills amounting to almost $20k unpaid by Mayo GAA dating back to 2013 & 2014. He fully backs the stance taken by Tim O’Leary – I think the shit is well and truly about to hit the fan!

  15. Tubberman, I saw that too but I wondered where did the Bill’s for 2013 come from, it was 2014 we were out there and from my memory there was a lot of hassle between Rooney and co board

  16. Why don’t we ask Mr O’Leary nicely instead of calling him a Donkey let’s ask him what made him successful and can he help use his business acumen to help Mayo drive forward. Let him and some of the successful mayo people around the world come up with a docey of how we can make our county a well run successful organisation. Let us ask people who show they care for Mayo and who know how to be successful. Let’s not act as if that is a treat and treet it as a helpibg hand. Mr O leary is just one of many who I am sure would help. Let’s stop the insults and start been proactive not distructive. Let’s admit we are at a crossroads we have made so many mistakes now it’s the time to brush clean and start from scratch. Look what we have done as a armature group now let’s see what we can achieve as a more business group.

  17. I would question how our County Board executive demonstrates the GAA principles embodied in their Respect initiative ‘Give Respect – Get Respect’. How is this policy and aspirational ideal demonstrated in their actions and deeds? We need our leaders to lead in their actions and deeds by demonstrating ownership, accountability and responsibility not words, bluster, delays and postponement. It is time for a programme of change to find real leaders!

  18. Lilie of the Glen absolutely correct,we will not move forward until the stable is cleared out,how anyone could use that insult about someone who clearly has put a lot of money into the county and not ordered to apologise and step immediately is beyond me

  19. Excellent post Lily,
    So this is where we stand after 8 of the most successful years in the counties history. We should be set up financially for a generation but we’re a whisker away from Croke Park stepping in and taking over the reigns. I was accused of using hyperbole here a few weeks ago when I said that the incompetence was bordering on the criminal, well I can tell you the dam is about to burst, it’s going to get an awful lot worse before it gets better.
    It seems our on field rivalry with Galway is mirrored in our off the field ineptitude..

  20. An awful lot of people seem to have great knowledge of how other county boards, particularly Dublin, are run. To suggest that Dublin’s success is down to great leadership/John Costello’s ability as CEO and little to Dublin’s population, playing resources, government/Croke Park favouritism is a bit nonsensical to say the least. Frank Murphy may or may not have been an official CEO in Cork and he had great ability in many ways but he was the architect of most of Cork’s woes for the past 20 years which they are only getting over now.
    Roger Milla’s suggestion of one year term limits for Co Board officers is a recipe for chaos with no continuity of policy with every position on the board changing each year and extremely limited eligibility for election. We already have limitations on the term of office of Co Board officials. It is, I understand, set at 5 years which in my opinion is an ideal compromise between the need for experience and continuity of policy. There is nothing to prevent an incompetent officer being voted out of office if that is deemed necessary at any time.
    Incidentally I am amazed that the Mayo officer who called Mr O’Leary a donkey is still in office. Resignation is the only answer acceptable here.

  21. Would Roger Milla please share his knowledge of GAA officers expenses with me. I was under the impression that there are limits on the expenses which can be claimed, particularly mileage. What rates would the bould Roger consider acceptable?

  22. I’m not surprised but a little disappointed but that this has quickly turned into the kind of sad, predictable rock-throwing session I didn’t want to see happen here. That wasn’t the aim of the piece as I was hoping it might provoke a more enlightened and thoughtful debate. More fool me – throwing rocks and assigning blame to others clearly takes far less effort and very little in the way of brain power. But tell me this, all of you who are clearly more than willing to cast the first stone – when everyone has been run out of town, who’s going to take up the reins? And how long will it be before it’s all their fault and the rocks are back in the air again?

  23. WJ,
    It’s very hard to have sympathy when you know the amount of help that has been ignored and spurned by those involved. Everyone recognised 7/8 years ago that it was becoming a massive undertaking and that help was needed. Motions that were tabled at conference to appoint a commercial director were ruled out of order, offers of financial assistance in paying their salary were ignored and finally when backed into a corner one was appointed with such restrictive terms that it was clearly set up to have little impact. It’s easy have a cut at the delegates but I can tell you that any club that starts raising hard questions will soon find itself isolated, O’Leary was on the money when he described an atmosphere of bullying and intimidation.

  24. Administration at county board level is a bit like refereeing. We all give out about it and know we can do a better job ourselves. But if we are asked to become a referee or administer – most of us run a mile from it. Reality is most people in their right mind and with a bit of sense would not become a referee or go near administration at county board level. Why would you? The time involved is crazy. Thankless job. If you do a good job – you won’t get abuse. If you do a bad job – you will be told about it fairly quickly. I Don’t know why they do it.

  25. In fairness to you WJ you have opened up your excellent platform to what is a very important issue to debate. There is clearly a risk (and additional workload) in this to you and I applaud you for your courage in allowing this take place.

    You are right when you say that it shouldn’t just be about throwing rocks at individuals. I for one didn’t intend for my initial post to be viewed as a rock throwing exercise. For me it is a much more important debate.

    Ultimately it is very hard to engage in this debate and not be critical of the individuals who are in senior leadership roles when I observe the carnage which exists in the county. Year after year we seem to have a mess to deal with and time after time these same individuals continue in office.

    Only recently I read a piece in the Connacht Telegraph which all put appointed the Vice Chair as they next Chairman. The narrative was about tradition and succession which I believe to be at the route of this mess. It appears that unless you serve a minimum apprenticeship of at least 15 years you don’t have the right to be Chairman.

    Personally I think there comes a point when individuals have to be held to account and I guess this was the point I was trying to make.

    I would welcome some direction from you as to how we should approach this as I think it is critical that we are allowed to continue to engage and make contributions.

    So again thanks to you WJ for allowing us debate this matter and I hope we can keep it between the ditches.

  26. No need for me to post here as Lilys 2 excellent and eloquent posts above encapsulate the exact way I feel too.

  27. You’re fine, Lilly – I don’t think I need to give directions but I just want to ensure the debate is fair and reasonable, with a focus on solutions rather than just the problems. By the way, I’m not sure I’d lay any store in anything GAA-related published in the Connaught Telegraph, in light of the kind of rubbish stories they’ve carried on an ongoing basis in recent years.

    In terms of holding people to account, that’s the job of the clubs and, Liam, I’d push that point back on you because if there isn’t accountability then the clubs aren’t doing what they should. Now, I know, most people might be uncomfortable about rocking the boat and don’t set out to cause trouble but if things are as bad as you’re making out then it’s a shocking abdication of responsibility for clubs not to have done something about it. A good start for clubs in ensuring accountability would be be to make sure they nominate the right people to attend County Board meetings. Club delegates will only be bullied – assuming this is what’s been happening – if they allow themselves to be and if they are then you’d have to wonder why such people are being asked to go to County Board meetings in the first place. Most grassroots GAA people I know certainly wouldn’t be intimidated in a hurry.

    South Mayo Exile – you pretty much summed up my own feelings there on the issue!

  28. interesting reading this evening and i thank WJ for providing the platform for people to express their opinions/thoughts on such an important matter.
    Have a good weekend all

  29. WJ,
    The reality is that most clubs are so busy trying to raise money, field teams, keep their grounds in order and the 100’s of other tasks required to keep it running that they don’t really have the time or interest in the county board. When people put themselves forward for roles you hope and expect that they are capable of fulfilling that role. I do agree that the clubs have been culpable in not holding successive county boards to account for their behaviour but the truth is that finding club officers is so difficult that you tend to hold on to them if you can. Another reality is that the county is surprisingly small and the GAA community smaller again, so it’s hard to take on the big machine without getting completely isolated and it’s taken an outsider* of sorts to expose the shenanigans that are going on.
    The facts of the matter remain that numerous people within the county recognised that help was needed due to the growth of the county but the vast majority of those offers were ignored or belittled.
    *Mayo man but not in the county

  30. The Mayo County board are like the County Council and the Catholic Church and to lesser extent RTE easy targets. “Ara sure theyre uselsss” I’m not a huge fan of the county board but in fairness to them they are volunteers and they have a thankless job most of us wouldn’t give up the limited free time that we have to run the county board so maybe instead of criticizing them we should all look into ways of helping the county board and progressing Mayo football

  31. Its very easy for us hurlers on the ditch to be giving out! How many of us would give the time (or have the time to give) to do whats needed to run a county board? What’s lacking is vision or willingness to run the machine that is Mayo GAA in a more professional way. Wasn’t that the whole point of appointing a commercial manager, to firstly bring in as much sponsorship as possible? If necessary employ people for certain roles. All that was highlighted back in 2010/11 and a report published, a few posters here were involved as well as yourself WJ. Why was that shelved?

  32. I think you’ve just gone and proved the point I’m trying to make there, Liam. Everyone is busy and overburdened, doing what they can as best they can, given the constraints they’re under. Who was it said again that all they could do is firefighting?

  33. You make a very good point in relation to the Clubs and the Delegates WJ and the role they play (or don’t play) in holding the CB to account.

    Without doubt the Clubs are equally guilty of the mess we find ourselves in and it begs the question – why don’t they take action?

    Liam has touched on a number of these points already. Some of which I will repeat again as they are the most relevant.

    As Liam mentioned the Clubs are under pressure from the many challenges they face on a day to day basis and this takes up most if not all of their available time and resources. In some cases the Board Delegates are also active in their own Clubs.

    They are also burdened with the responsibility of selling a significant number of County Board tickets so that they can meet their obligation to pay their annual County Board levy. For small Clubs this is a huge challenge.

    A bit like the €240m ‘Ring Road’ announced to coincide with Election time I see that the CB are for the first time ever going to pay the Clubs a ‘performance related dividend’ for their efforts in selling tickets and running Cul Camps. Interesting approach given the upcoming Convention with so many places up for grabs! No tickets this year but we have a few euros for ye. Decent lads those in the County Board.

    We then have this issue of ‘fear’ which Mr O’Leary identified in his latest letter to the CB. From discussions on the forum he this appears to be a real issue. Anyone who speaks out against the CB will do so in the knowledge that there may be consequences. This could come in the form of a reduced all ireland ticket allocation, messing with fixtures, referee selection to name but just a few ‘punishments’ which might come your way if you go against the top table. The incident in Meath with the referee is an example of how this can happen. Fixing games for Friday evenings when lads have to travel back from Dublin, Limerick or Galway is another example.

    The opposite can also be the case when the privileged will get a call from a senior officer in the county board around all ireland final time with the extra few tickets for the Club Officers. Just to say thanks like! No better way to keep the club officers onside than with the offer of a few extra tickets.
    Liam has touched on another key point which is that it took an outsider to become the whistleblower. Anyone who was at the last CB meeting probably noticed that there was a shot put across the bow of the Burishoole Club delegate for asking a few questions. If memory serves me right he was very quickly reminded by the top table that he was only asking questions because O’Leary was a sponsor of their Club.

    Brave lads those in Burishoole and in fairness anyone who knows the DNA of some of the lads involved will know that there were never ones to be intimidated.

  34. All Ireland Ticket’s have always been a bone of contention in Mayo… According to the Croke Park, about 14K each were issued to the Dublin and Kerry County Board, and 3K each to Cork and Galway the minor finalists, for the most recent All Ireland Football Final’s…Mayo have been in a number of All Ireland Final’s recently.. We have 32 Club’s I think… I fully understand that Player’s should get tickets, Sponcers and County Board members, and Season Ticket holder’s… How many tickets did your Club get? Even if half of the available 14K of Ticket’s went to the the Club’s, it works out as an adverage of 218!

  35. @Wide Ball , you are correct, in that case if 50% of the 14K Ticket’s were available to 50 Club’s it should average 140… and that’s half of the Ticket’s Croke Park made available to each of the particapiting Senior Counties for the most recent All Ireland Final!

  36. Amateurs, volunteers, etc. No excuse for not been able to show how large sums of money are spent, no excuse for calling donors donkeys, no excuse for not sending representatives to cork. In fairness, the way to not wash this dirty linen is to provide answers and to show some courtesy. The situation is not beyond repair.

  37. -Excellent posts Lily. -Well done WJ for a great informative discussion. -Thanks to Tim O’Leary for vast sums he has provided & raised and for speaking out.

  38. Can we please knock on the head this allegation about information not being supplied about how money is spent? Every set of annual accounts for Mayo GAA going back to 2013 is on its website – all these accounts are accessible here. I’m open to correction on this but, as far as I’m aware, no other county makes this information as readily available as we do.

  39. I think Lily’s comments are spot on. If the county board is such a terrible place to be it’s amazing the same people stay in it so long! And I include club delegates in that cos we’ve had the same one for as long as I can remember. The sad reality is it should be easy for mayo, we’re one of the biggest brands in Irish sport. We should be one of the have’s not the have not’s. Wether that’s ethical in a broader sense is a different story.

  40. In fairness to Mayo County Board they have gone to the trouble and transparancy of keeping and publishing accounts since 2013.
    This can also be said for other counties such as Dublin, Cork and Monaghan who provide annual financial statements of accounts at convention and/or by other media.
    But never the less having been dilligent to keep these accounts and transparent in makeing them so readily available whats disappointing is that that we dont seem have the answers at our finger tips to legitimate questions related to the whereabouts of the 150K donated by Tim O’Leary in early 2018.
    I am sure the County Board will provide the relevant answers at Wednesday’s meeting but it would have prevented alot of speculation and malicous rumour if the facts were provided months or even weeks ago or if it was evident when looking at the 2018 accounts for oneself.

    Now I know I have posted previoulsy regards the below on this forum but at the risk of repeating myslef ……

    There are 5 source of Income in the accounts which are consistent throughout the accounts back to 2012.
    #1 Gate Receipts, #2 Commercial Income, #3 Fund Raising Activities, #4 Transfer Income #5 Other Income

    All of these 5 sources of Income then have associated schedules which provide a breakdown of how the sum total is accrued.(the inputs if you will)

    2018 Summary below
    #1 Gate Receipt – @ €557, 496 -The 150K donation is not part of this line of income

    #2 Commercial Income – @ €606,338 – The 150K is not part of this source of income as there was no commercial contract (and to confirm it is not referenced in the associated schedule)

    #3 Fund Raising Activities – @ €604,151 – The 150K is not part of this line of income as there was no fund raising such as Cairde Mhaigheo (and to confirm it is not referenced in the associated schedule)

    #4 Transfer Income – @ €692,485 – The 150K is not part of this source of income (and to confirm it is not referenced in the associated schedule)

    #5 Other Income – @ €708,743 – The 150K would most likely fall under this soure of income but then there is no reference or record of it in the associated schedule.

    If the 150K was part of the total for “Other Income” you would expect to see it recorded here, the schedule for “Other Income” even provides a line item of €15 for “Sundry Items” as an input to the total just not the elusive 150K

    But as I said above I am sure the officers of the County Board will have all the relevant answers on Wednesday night and that is what we are all hopeing for.
    They may even be able to advise if the outstanding bill to Eugene Rooney is included in the accounts as an unpaid creditor going all the way back to 2014.

    Some truth and reconcilliation is better late than never as they say.

  41. I can’t vouch for Monaghan, Lilly, but Dublin certainly don’t put their full annual accounts online. They provide the briefest of financial information at Convention but that’s all they do.

    On the €150k, I don’t get what the issue is. Nobody is disputing that the amount was donated and received by Mayo GAA in 2018 so what exactly is the concern relating to it? What I don’t understand is how other, far larger, sums have been quoted as having been provided from this source to Mayo GAA, which I haven’t seen any confirmation as having been received by Mayo GAA. It’d be good to get some clarification on this point too on Wednesday.

  42. As always ou make a fair and valid point Willie Joe and I was just trying to illustrate that Mayo were not unique in providing Financial Statements of accounts.

    The level of detail provided or required for in these financial statements by any county including our own is open for debate as we all lnow from experience with BT Italy, Tesco, Anglo, AIB, Irish Nationwide, Enron and many others that accounts are not always the best measures of an entitys financial standing.

    I have linked to reports from Monaghan and Cork below which I found from a search on the WWW


    With respect of Dublin their documented procedure Linked below is in summary to provide –
    “Documentation, including a copy of the agenda, a copy of the Secretary’s report, a copy of financial statements, details of nominations to the Executive Committee and a copy of any motions for consideration. must be sent to members at least 10 days before the AGM;” and that the AGM must incorporate “an analysis of financial statements”

  43. Lilly – those links merely show that the accounts for Cork (2016) and Monaghan (2017) are both online. I’ve yet to see any evidence, however, that even a single other county does what we do, i.e. put every year’s accounts online, which in our case we’ve done since 2013. That Dublin link, by the way, doesn’t get you to any accounts information, which is information they guard very closely. Check out the Dublin GAA site yourself, you won’t find any annual accounts there.

  44. You reference my issue with the 150K Willie Joe and I have no persoanl concern or issues myself.

    The frustration for Mr. O’Leary appears to be that although nobdoy has denied the donation was received in early 2018, nobody thus far can account for how it was spent and it doesnt appear to be in the accounst for 2018.

    Your reference to the other larger sums which Mr O’Leary claims to have made to Mayo GAA Wille Joe is already covered in communication from the Foundation to Mayo GAA in so far as the Foundation has confirmed that this money was paid to the Foundation and not directly to the CB.

    Looks like Mr O’Leary didn’t take long to realise that a different approach was required to that of advancing money directly, hence the April email from the Foundation to the Chairman which was never shared with the other Officers and in subsequent letters issued in July where the Foundation set out a summary statement of their accounst to date and again in September where Terry Gallagher from Cairde Mhaigheo makes the statment below.

    “Speaking on behalf of the Foundation Mr Terry Gallagher (Foundation Trustee) confirmed that Mr
    O’Leary has made financial contributions of €415,000 to Mayo GAA and the Foundation during a 12-
    month period. Mr Gallagher also confirmed that a number of other Donors have made contributions
    totalling €350,000 to the Foundation in 2019. Mr Gallagher went on to state that the Foundation is a
    representation of successful Mayo people from all over the world who are very proud of their Mayo
    heritage and who want to continue to support Mayo GA”

    All of this information is in the public domain.

  45. How it was spent is a different issue, Lilly – I took from what you were stating that there was some issue with how it was accounted for in the financial statements. I’ve no information about what terms and conditions (if any) were placed on how or on what the money might have to be spent so I can’t really add anything on that score.

    On the €415,000 total that’s being quoted, it can’t, with any accuracy, be stated that this sum has been donated to Mayo GAA at all, because, simply, Mayo GAA hasn’t been given it. It’s beyond dispute that €150k has been donated (and nobody is disputing what a significant donation this is) but while the rest may have been donated, it is assumed, to the Mayo GAA Foundation it hasn’t yet been given to Mayo GAA, despite this being stated repeatedly in newspaper articles. If this money – as appears to be the case – is indeed with the Foundation then this is what should be said. I think it should be abundantly clear to all and sundry by now that the Mayo GAA Foundation (which portrays itself as a body that fundraises for Mayo GAA) and Mayo GAA are very different entities.

  46. Again WJ you make valid points which I respect. I hope you equally respect my views which are only formed from reading all the information in the public domain. As someone who has a small bit of time in my hands I decided to look into all the available information.

    As I’m not a spokesperson for the Foundation and you clearly aren’t a spokesperson for the County Board I think there is one thing that we both might agree on which is that this is one complete cluster xxxx.

    One thing I know for sure is if I came onto your site and insulted a contributor by calling him a Donkey you would very quickly and rightly throw the rule book at me and give me a bit of time in the sin bin.

    The individual who called Mr O’Leary a Donkey has yet to apologise to him for a this comment. This behaviour is unbecoming of an Officer of Mayo GAA and should not be condoned.

    Worse still none of the other 4 officers have apologised either which would indicate that they see nothing wrong with this type of behaviour.

    As a long time follower of your brilliant site and only a recent contributor I have looked on with huge admiration with the manner you have created and implements your house rules. You have tried and indeed succeeded in upholding a value which is central to all decent Mayo people. Which is the value of Respect.

    Unfortunately the value of Respect for other views and contributions is lost on those folk who run our county board.

    I wonder how different relationships would be if Mr O’Leary wasn’t insulted in the manner he was or if an appropriate apology was issued to him.

    I spoke on Friday about leadership and unfortunately the lack of leadership within the Board has caused this all merciful mess.

    So Willie Joe can I put a 3 simple questions to you…

    1. Do you believe the individual who insulted Mr O’Leary should issue a public apology to him?

    2. If this same individual refuses to issue an apology should he/she be the subject of a disciplinary process?

    3. Should the other 4 Officers issue and apology on behalf of Mayo GAA and indeed the people of Mayo who most definitely do not condone this behaviour.

    Maybe then we could start to move forward.

  47. Of course I respect your views, Lilly, as I respect the views of anyone who comes on here and says what they have to say in a fair and reasonable way.

    As you rightly say, I’m not speaking for the County Board. I’m not privy to the full details of the interactions that took place between the parties so I can’t say why the communications turned out the way they did. I think full knowledge of this would be needed before considering who should be apologising about what. That said, I’m in favour of reasoned debate in all circumstances and you’re right in saying that anyone coming on here insulting someone else would be dealt with.

    I also agree with you that this whole business is a complete mess. I don’t doubt the motives of anyone on either side but between them – and I do believe there’s fault on both sides – they made a huge mess and they’ve made the county, once again, a laughing stock. Clearly, none of them wanted this outcome but that’s the position they’ve reached. It’s up to both sides – and they’re all adults after all – to step back and sort this out, for the good of Mayo GAA.

    There’s another angle to all this and it’s that relates to the point I made earlier on about the distinction between Mayo GAA and the Foundation. It’s one that goes all the way back to the 2010 Strategic Report. I’m trying to rev myself up to write a post about it, as I believe it helps to explain why this particular issue has ended up how it has. In short, I think there was a fatal misunderstanding bound up in the relevant recommendation in the Strategic Report, from which the Foundation eventually emerged, and worse, from my perspective, was the fact that I was on the bloody sub-committee who decided on this recommendation. I’ll try to explain this in more detail when I get a clear bit of time to do so.

  48. WJ, regarding your last paragraph, your promised post would be most welcome. By shining light on the recesses of the past, hopefully, we can begin the process of reconciliation.

    Personally speaking, I would be interested if Horan’s sub-committee consided the regulatory challenges associated with fundraising among the various jurisdictions of the Global Diaspora.

  49. I don’t recall that topic being discussed in the Finance sub-committee I was on as part of the Strategic Review but I’d agree that such challenges are worthy of consideration.

  50. WJ, in the interests of drilling down to the crux of the matter which by my reading of Liam Horan’s DRAFT SAP (See Below) is point “a” could you furnish us with your recollection of the committee’s deliberations at that time?

    Specifically, with regards to Recommendation 1, why in the opinion of the committee, a committee you sat on, was an Independent Review required back then and why was it not just a recommendation but the first recommendation?

    Is it possible that the failure to conduct this independent review is the reason the foundation concept failed and not because of failings in the concept of a foundation, itself?

    Worldwide Mayo Supporters’ Club
    That the existing framework of support for Mayo GAA throughout the world be developed by establishing an active Mayo Supporters Club/Association in major Irish centres worldwide, under the direction of the Commercial Director. This should be positioned as a key fundraising vehicle for Mayo GAA, and its structures, activities, and brand should reflect this.
    Timeline: July 2011 Responsibility of: Commercial Director

    a) That an independent and professional review, under the direction of the Non-executive Advisory Group (see Key recommendation 2), be undertaken to accepted accounting standards of the financial status of Mayo GAA for the three- year period 2008-2010 (inclusive). This should incorporate a line-by-line review of all income and expenditure, cash flow, balance sheet, and external income items, and identify significant items that have the potential to impact, both positively and negatively, on the financial wellbeing of Mayo GAA. This should include items such as, but not exclusively, County Board Draw, McHale Park, Team Costs, and all other sources of income from affiliated or external bodies. The final report shall be presented to Mayo County Board.
    schools, and county teams
    • Development and management of a coaching structure in the
    (b) That based on the outcomes of the financial review, a comprehensive five-year financial plan, subject to rigorous stress-testing, be drawn up. Detailed income and expenditure, balance sheet, and cash flow projections should be established to address matters arising from the financial review, and to also incorporate recommendations from this Strategic Action Plan.

  51. It’s a long time ago now, Reafteirai, and I wouldn’t be too confident about the accuracy of my recollections on the deliberations of that sub-committee. What I can say, though, is that the situation then compared to now on Mayo GAA’s accounts and financial matters generally was very different. The three-year period we were looking at back then comprised the time during and immediately after the ill-fated MacHale Park development, which coincided, of course, with the national economic collapse. Financial information about Mayo GAA from that period was, at best, fairly opaque and I’m not even sure what kind of annual accounts were available. It wasn’t until much later that audited accounts for Mayo GAA were published online (2013 was the first year) so the era was very different to what came afterwards and the personalities involved were different too.

    I don’t believe there’s a linkage between the failure to conduct the financial review that was recommended then and the difficulties that have occurred more recently in relation to the Foundation. It’s my belief that there’s a clear – and rather simple – reason for why things have turned out as they have but you’ll have to leave that one with me, I’m afraid, so that I have a bit of time to explain where I’m coming from on it.

  52. Again WJ these are all good and most relevant points you make.

    However In fairness we might never get all the facts in relation to what communications preceded “Donkey Gate” and until or if we do everthing else is pure speculation and rumour.
    What we can fom an opinion on is the things we know that did happen and which are in the public domain and I felt your views in relation to what we do know would be respected.

    Personally I still can’t get over the fact that an Officer of the County Board in their position as an elected representative of Mayo GAA called anybody a Donkey let alone a substantial financial donor and I find it difficult to imagine what information could be offered up even at this late stage that would provide mitigation or justification for such unbecoming behaviour of an officer of the County Board.
    I find it even more difficult to understand how our Chairman or the other 3 officers saw no need to take action at the time, offer any apology or pass comment when all of this was know to them and has since entered the public domain.

    I have been out all day with the kids it being school break and its not the sort of values of respect, responsibility, acconuntability and ownership we would want to teach our children.
    But we all know they learn more by action and example rather than words and slogans.

  53. Lily, while I share your concerns let’s not lose sight of the fact that the seeds of this poisoned fruit took root at the time the Draft SAP was binned nine years ago this coming winter.

    As WJ was party to its composition, and I am thankful for his birds eye view of those deliberations I think it would be helpful while he contemplates his response to my last post regarding Point 1 that weight be given to Recommendation 2 (SEE BELOW) which was also critical as it linked 1 and 7…..

    That a Non-executive Advisory Group be established to advise on and review the implementation of this Strategic Action Plan. In addition, this group will provide strategic advice and support to Mayo County Board, chairperson, and commercial director, in relation to fundraising, finance, and commercial development activities.
    That the full-time, paid position of Commercial Director be created and that this position shall have overall responsibility and oversight for the day-to-day management of the commercial, financial, fundraising, and marketing activities of Mayo GAA. This position shall report to the chairperson and Mayo County Board. This position shall be filled through an open competition which shall be overseen by an interview board. The Commercial Director shall be appointed to the County Board Executive.
    This group should consist of a chairperson and a minimum of four other members who, between them, have a broad mix of skills and experience (Gaelic games, marketing, strategy, fundraising, finance, and commercial development).
    Timeline: June 2011 Responsibility of: Chairperson
    The chairperson of the group shall be selected by a panel of three consisting of the Mayo County Board chairperson and two members of the Strategic Action Plan Steering committee. The recommendation for chairperson by the panel shall be put before a full meeting of Mayo County Board for ratification.
    KR5: Key recommendation 5
    Once appointed, the chairperson of this group shall then select the other members of the committee. The group shall provide and present an annual report to a full meeting of Mayo County Board, and may meet with the County Board throughout the year if necessary.

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