Connacht counties increased their spending on inter-county team preparations by 8% to €4.88m in 2018, audited figures show.
Warnings from Connacht Council secretary John Prenty in early 2017 that counties were “living beyond their means” saw a collective tightening of the pursestrings that year, reflected in the total spend for 2017 which showed a 9% decrease when compared with 2016 accounts.
But with Galway and Leitrim significantly increasing the amount of money being poured into their flagship teams over the past 12 months, the total figure of €4.88m for 2018 is just shy of the all-time record high of €4.93m recorded in 2016.
The run of the Galway senior footballers and hurlers to the All-Ireland semi-final and final respectively, playing a combined total of 16 championship games along the way, was a key contributor in expenses jumping by 41% to €1,842,230. Other factors in the €500,000-plus hike were the increased number of games the county’s U21 hurlers played as a result of their move into Leinster, as well as the county minor hurling and football sides reaching their respective All-Ireland finals.
There was little commentary on the staggering rise in team expenses at the Galway GAA convention last month, the €1.84m figure overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the mismanagement of finances in recent years. The cost of preparing the various Leitrim teams rose 60% last year, increasing from €298k in 2017 to €474k.
There were savings made in the remaining three counties; expenses associated with the Mayo senior football team fell by €350k as a result of their early exit from the All-Ireland championship. This had a knock-on effect on the overall spend on Mayo teams (€1.19m), which was down 22% on the 2017 figure of €1.54m.
“It was a testing year for us,” admitted county board treasurer Kevin O’Toole at the recent Mayo Convention. “But we didn’t get into trouble because we managed it well.”
Expenditure on Roscommon teams in 2018 was marginally less than the year previous, coming in at €857,877. Just under €360k of this went on travelling expenses.