Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD was joined by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD, at Croke Park yesterday, December 14th, to announce a new three-year agreement for the continued support of Gaelic men’s inter-county players.
The new agreement will see a total of €6.9 million provided over the next three years to support Gaelic inter-county footballers and hurlers. As with previous agreements, Sport Ireland will provide the funding to the GAA who will then work with the Gaelic Players Association for the appropriate disbursement of the money to the players. Funding of €1.6 million will be provided in 2017 increasing to €2.3 million in 2018 and €3 million in 2019.
The Taoiseach said: “This agreement provides continued recognition for the contribution of Gaelic inter-county players to the economic and social fabric of the nation. Our inter-county players showcase the skill, excellence and commitment of our national games at home and abroad. They train hard to become the best they can be, in order to do their county, their town or their parish proud.
As well as promoting increased levels of physical activity, our Gaelic players can act as important role models in a number of other key policy areas at local and national level. These include the promotion of mental health wellbeing, the fight against obesity and the prevention of alcohol and drugs misuse. I look forward to the continued support of our inter-county footballers and hurlers in these and other areas and as role models which young people’s can emulate.”
Minister Ross said “This new agreement recognises that inter-county Gaelic players prepare and train to the highest international standards for team sports and incur significant financial costs in pursuit of their sporting goals. It is important that they receive support and recognition. My Department officials will work with Sport Ireland to develop an agreement outlining the funding that will be provided over the next three years, what is expected from the Gaelic players in return and the health and societal benefits of the investment.”
Minister O’Donovan said “The Government recognises the valuable contribution that our inter-county footballers and hurlers make to Irish society. Sport has a very significant role to play in creating a healthier society. Active participation in sport and physical activity contributes enormously to the physical and mental well-being of the individual and of the whole community. Local sporting heroes can positively influence our communities and provide our children with role models of excellence, because they know these players as individuals, as friends and as neighbours. Their achievements will serve to encourage participation at local levels, particularly among young people who like to emulate their sporting heroes.”
Seamus Hickey, GPA Chairman stated ‘’This new agreement with Government is important for players as it once again recognizes the vital economic and social contribution made by county players. It reinforces the principle of parity for county players with other high performance athletes and professional sportspeople supported through State sponsored schemes. It also provides a level of practical support to many players who are under financial pressure across the spectrum; from young students juggling their significant sporting and academic commitments to the more experienced players with young families to care for, mortgages and bills to pay while operating and performing at the highest levels in Irish sport.”
Dessie Farrell, GPA CEO added “This new arrangement will facilitate the development of an important programme between Government and Players in tackling some of the more intractable societal challenges in Ireland today. This will happen through a more targeted approach and will leverage the role model status of many of our top county players to influence positive change. Players look forward to taking an even more prominent role in making a meaningful difference, particularly, in the lives our young people across the country.”