More managers could follow McGuinness's code breaking
By this stage it is arguable that the ethos of amateurism is less important than its practicalities. The Duffy discussion document is sceptical about the extent to which amateurism in the case of managers is an actual principle.
“The truth of the matter, however,” it states, “is that the GAA’s attitude to the issue owes more to inertia and expediency than to anything else. In essence, the Association has let itself drift into an attitude of knowingly ignoring the problem, either hoping it will go away, or that no one will mention it.”
In all of the angst generated by the departure of a few players to try their hand in Australia and the more widespread departures for rugby and soccer few had imagined that managers might become part of the migration.
Jim McGuinness is at present an exceptional case. His qualifications are primarily what equip him for the position with Celtic. His achievements with Donegal simply drew attention to his abilities.
What differentiates McGuinness from any other professionally qualified person in his situation is that regardless of recession there are very few outlets for his expertise. The rugby provinces are about the only full-time sports clubs operating in Ireland and realistically, a career in his chosen area will require at least some time spent abroad.
Yet the academic disciplines in which McGuinness excelled are also beginning to produce other GAA members and players who hope to make a living and have taken up positions in other sports.
The debate on paying intercounty managers didn’t rear up just because Páraic Duffy was bored. Payments to coaches and managers – in complete defiance of Rule 11 – have been going on for a long time. The idea was to monitor and regulate the situation.
It was effectively about whether to extend the growing exemption list, which already includes administrators, professional advisers, groundsmen and development officers, to intercounty managers.
The argument when a promising young player, most recently Dublin’s Ciarán Kilkenny, goes to the AFL is that players are free to pursue what career they want. The same argument must also apply to a manager who may be lost to professional sport.
By voting to intensify the efforts to crack down on – rather than regulate – payments to intercounty managers the GAA signalled that it didn’t consider them to be integral to the operation of the association and its games.
Reactions in Donegal last week would suggest otherwise.