Limerick GAA’s new treasurer has warned county managers that spiralling team expenses will not continue under his watch, writes Eoghan Cormican
Liam Burke of Fedamore took over the county’s books at the end of Sunday’s annual convention and in his first address to delegates, Burke said the cost of running Limerick’s flagship teams had reached ’unsustainable’ levels.
Team expenses for 2017 increased by €258,099 on the year previous to €1,148,631, a 29% spike. This left the board with an overall deficit of €43,551.
Having known since October that he would be unchallenged for the position of board treasurer, Burke went about meeting the various inter-county management teams to inform them current costs cannot be maintained.
“There is little doubt that if expenditure on your inter-county teams goes up by €258k, an increase on the previous year of 29%, we don’t have the capacity within the county to raise the additional funds that are required to offset those costs,” he explained.
“I have been in discussions with management teams and their representatives. I’d like people to leave convention with the understanding that I’ve left those management teams and representatives under absolutely no illusion whatsoever that the continuing increase in costs cannot be maintained.”
Burke believes the sharp rise in Limerick’s costs mirrors a nationwide trend.
“Anyone who has been following reports in relation to inter-county spend over the last two or three weeks will know that the costs of preparing inter-county teams are going through the roof. There doesn’t appear to be any way to stop it, at the moment. It is almost like a race to the bottom.
“We’ll only concern ourselves with our problem. All I will say is that I will do everything within my own power to ensure that we control our costs and run our board as prudently as possible over the next couple of years.”
Outgoing Limerick chairman Oliver Mann urged patience with regard to John Kiely’s senior hurlers – failure to win a championship match in 2017 represented the county’s worst campaign since 2010. The 2018 panel is packed with members of last September’s All-Ireland U21 winning squad and the hope is that the influx of youth will edge Limerick closer to hurling’s summit in the years ahead.
Mann said: “While the future is bright with success at U21 level, I would encourage patience. If a club won a premier U21 title in 2017 but had not won a senior club title for a number of years, would it be realistic for them to win a senior in 2018 with a large number of U21s from 2017?
“2017 was a season of learning for our youthful senior hurling team, but also our management. Currently, one of the standout traits of inter-county teams is their physicality which takes a number of years to develop. But from my observations over the past few weeks, we are getting there.”
Mann concluded: “Our U25 hurlers won the inaugural Munster title at this level and it is disappointing that this competition is not being run in 2018. It certainly was a huge benefit to Limerick.”
Maintenance spend on the county’s centre of excellence at Mick Neville Park, Rathkeale also drew criticism from former board chairman Donal Fitzgibbon.
“Money needs to be invested there to bring it back up to the standards [we expect].”
Rathkeale’s Pat Sheehan went on: “It is in bad need of some money being spent in terms of maintenance.”