GAA boss rules out paying players, and tips Galway and Limerick for All-Irelands

Tom Ryan says if you pay players you will have the counties that can afford to pay more attracting the better players

The director general of the GAA, Tom Ryan, has ruled out the association axing its traditional amateur status in favour of paying intercounty players to play hurling and Gaelic football.

In an interview with Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, Mr Ryan argued that this could lead to players being lured from their native counties to play for a rival offering a better financial package.

“If you revert to a paid’re just a sport like any other,” the Carlow native said, adding that the GAA’s annual revenues of €74 million would be unlikely to sustain a full-time paid model for all of its intercounty players. “That’s small – it wouldn’t provide a living wage to 2,000 intercounty footballers and hurlers. Far, far from it.

“Then there’s the aspect that we all cheer on...where we’re from. The minute you’re paying people that disappears. Go down that route and very quickly you’ll have the counties that can afford to pay people more will attract the players who are the better players.


“And you’ll very quickly find that you’ll end up with a championship with a very small number of competitive counties...who would be comprised of players who are not from that county.

“I have no interest in going to see a more successful Carlow team that is comprised of hurlers from Kilkenny. It’s not what the GAA is about.”

Mr Ryan also gave his view on who might win the All-Ireland senior football and hurling titles this year.

"Galway look good so far [in football]. They are playing good football in the league. In the last few years they've been quite conservative in their approach but seem now to be playing a more expansive game of football. And Limerick for the hurling."

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times