THE GAA WILL not make up any shortfall that could arise if cuts are made to the players grants scheme in next week’s Budget, as the original agreement had established the association would not be picking up the tab in the event of the Government making cuts to the scheme.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring hinted last week that funding reductions may see the scheme being revamped.
The money available to the player grants scheme has been cut by 73% in recent years from a total of €3.5m to €1.01m and there is speculation that the scheme will be further hit.
But GAA President Liam O’Neill is adamant that it is not on the cards for the association starting to finance the scheme.
“In the original agreement it was dealt with and that’s where it is. I don’t think so (the GAA will pick up the tab).
“It’s a pity that sport is being targeted. It was off the agenda for a number of years and I don’t welcome it back on the agenda.
“Its not just sport, you see schools being cut too. We need to make choices in this country and sport is being cut and it is a pity.”
Mayo footballer Cillian O’Connor has revealed that players are ‘upset’ about the potential for cuts to the scheme. When the scheme was initially introduced in 2008, the amount of money ring-fenced could see a player awarded up to €2,600.
But now players will receive anywhere between €400 and €900 this year, depending on how their county performed.
“It’s disappointing,” admitted O’Connor. “A lot of the guys would be upset about that. It is something that you do voluntarily. You are not being paid, it is an amateur sport.
“But I suppose it shows respect as well when you are paid but when it’s cut it’s a blow. They haven’t been paid out yet (this year) so I’ll just wait and see. Hopefully they won’t be cut but it is looking that way which is very disappointing if they are.”
O’Connor is currently in third-level education, studying to be a Primary School teacher in St Pat’s in Drumcondra and outlined how the funding is of major assistance to him personally.
“It’s difficult when people are putting in so much time and effort away from their jobs and trying to balance, for myself, college and football and your personal life and social life. It is extremely difficult.
It is pretty important when you are trying to run things. For students especially it is a huge help. If it does get cut it is going to be extremely difficult for the GAA.”