Mick O’Dwyer, manager of the Laois senior Gaelic football team, has called for payment to be made to GAA players who reach the final of the All-Ireland football championship. “The two teams that get into an All-Ireland should get €10,000 a man,” he suggested, on the eve of the Leinster provincial decider between Laois and Dublin.
“Players are out of pocket no end for the amount of work they put into this game. A lot of players have to break off work at four in the evening to make training and they are losing money. You’ll have over 80,000 people in Croke Park on Sunday and not one penny going to any one player — and they’re the ones putting on the show. I think that’s wrong.”
O’Dwyer’s comments provoked a strong reaction among GAA fans. Gaelic games hold amateur status with revenue raised through ticket sales and TV coverage poured back into facilities around the country. However, the 69-year-old O’Dwyer has spent long enough in the game to hold an audience. Having played with great distinction for his native Kerry, he has successfully managed teams in both Kildare and Laois.
He suggested €10,000 would “just cover the loss of earnings and expenses over the year — and I don’t think that’s asking too much. They should certainly get better expenses than they are getting. No one wants to be paid for play or anything like that, but they should be looked after better than they are.”
He referred to an unnamed Wexford player going to a club in New York to play a match for cash, as happens regularly with many U.S.-based GAA clubs. “The day has come when we have to see after them in a financial way,” he added.
For the record, Laois were narrowly beaten by Dublin.