Horan downplays funding’s role in Dublin footballers’ success
GAA president pleased with recent progress on Tier 2 football championship proposal
John Horan: “To sound boring myself about this, there are other factors that play into Dublin’s success.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
It wouldn’t be the business end of the championship without some talk of money, and for GAA president John Horan the conversation continues to evolve around funding for Dublin.
It probably doesn’t help that anything Horan says could be interpreted as mere defence for his native county; only Horan believes funding is only part of the picture, and some rival counties are beginning to recognise that.
“I’ve just come out from talking to people from Tyrone, their coaching and games structure, and they went down to Dublin to see John Costello [Dublin CEO] to see the model in Dublin,” he said.
“They don’t agree with the debate that’s out there about Dublin and the funding. The funding that goes into Dublin is to maintain the participation levels, which is key.
“To sound boring myself about this, there are other factors that play into Dublin’s success. One is a very competitive and successful games programme which is driven, in fairness, by the capacity abilities that they have in the county.”
Horan was speaking at the All-Ireland football series launch at Scotstown GAA club in Monaghan, who like Dublin are seeking the five-in-a-row in 2019, albeit at county championship level.
Also in attendance was former GAA director general Páraic Duffy, who before leaving the post in 2018 had suggested the need for a radical change in development funding.
Dublin’s high allocation of such funds has been recently highlighted, almost €18 million in provincial funding between 2007 and 2018. Cork were the next highest recipients with €1.4 million during the same period. Last year alone Dublin received €1,303,630 in development grants, while Leinster neighbours Meath were allocated €367,400.
“Before Páraic Duffy left, Páraic, myself and John Costello met, and there was €200,000 of Dublin’s funding transferred into the East Leinster project to give that a kick-start and momentum” said Horan, “and as Tom Ryan [current GAA director general] alluded to last week, the gap is closing. Dublin’s is not increasing. It is increasing in other counties.
“People are operating off global figures, because Dublin’s money goes from Croke Park, whereas most of the other counties in Leinster get their money from the province by going from Croke Park to the province.
“I think there needs to be a greater analysis of it. It’s very easy to take a global figure and say it’s one-point whatever [million] going to Dublin and whatever going to the rest but, if you actually did an analysis, there is the penetration in the schools which a lot of the coaching money in Dublin is going into and that goes into camogie and ladies football as well. I think a different analysis would give a different picture and I think if people look at the trend, that the gap is narrowing.”
Horan also (gently) defended the situation where Dublin will again play two Super-8s games at Croke Park, a Donegal motion seeking to amend that was defeated.
“It was brought to Congress and you saw the decision. It’s always open to be addressed and changed. Dublin have never, ever complained about being asked to travel outside Dublin so I’m quite sure if the rule changes and Dublin were to come out. Now, you want Dublin to play an All-Ireland series game in Parnell Park where we could get 9,000 packed into it? Do you really think that’s practical?”
Over the weekend the GAA confirmed plans to press ahead with a Tier 2 football championship, with two options set to come before a special congress in October.
“The wording could still change,” said Horan. “It looks like your status will be decided by where you actually started in the league but in fairness, and I’ve been talking to a few people, it might actually be fairer to where you finish. If you get promoted into Division Two might be a better option than if you get relegated out of it.
“These things are there to be discussed, that’s why we’ve time between now and the Central Council meeting in September. But if you think about it, if you’re a relegated team as against a team with the momentum of getting promoted out of Division 3, who should get the benefit?
“Or do you have to wait 12 months? In 12 months’ time you could be relegated again, so that’s something we’re going to look at. The amendments will be done between now and the motions will be finally put together for the Central Council meeting in September to be ready for October.
“That option is there for them. The whole idea of pushing the Tier 2 is to get an appreciation that Tier 2 is accepted within the organisation. The last time we came in with a big fixture plan, Tier 2 was in the middle of it, and it just fell out the back door, it didn’t happen. You all know it yourselves, it’s the norm in hurling, it’s the norm in ladies football, it’s the norm in camogie to have tiers, it always seemed to be a barrier in football.
“So we want to crack that barrier and that will actually give certainty to the fixture committee before they come back with their report that Tier 2 has now been accepted within the organisation and they can fit it in with a structure.”
There may also be a review of experimental playing rules at that congress, although no changes in hurling are likely; definitely not the Leinster format.
“Everybody last year said it should be increased to allow Offaly into it. Look where Offaly ended up. That’s the balance that is Leinster at the moment. There’s nothing off the table but I just don’t see it happening for next year. Nobody has pushed it that much yet.”