March 29 2012
Your correspondent, Mr. John Murphy of Thurles, in his letter printed in the issue of the Tipperary Star dated March 15, 2012 makes some wildly inaccurate statements and offers views which must be challenged.
Mr. Murphy expresses the view that the expenditure on training the Tipperary senior hurling team is a total disgrace and has to be reviewed. Tipperary County Board is reviewing its overall expenditure and will make significant cost reductions this year across the full range of its activities including, where feasible, expenditure on the senior hurling team. However, it must be pointed out that the money spent on training sessions actually represents good value for money and covers items such as after training meals, travel expenses for the players and management, and professional fees at a competitive rate for a physiotherapist and other professionals whose presence and contribution are essential to injury prevention and recovery and the proper preparation of the team.
Travel expenses for players and management barely cover their fuel costs and are fully in accordance with the rules of the GAA and I don’t think anybody would begrudge them to a group of people who make huge sacrifices to play a game that gives so much pleasure to so many people the length and breadth of this country and around the world.
Mr. Murphy suggests the numbers on the backroom team are a “joke”. By inter-county standards Tipperary’s backroom team is relatively small and it is an extremely hard working and able group all of whom perform important and necessary roles. Liam Sheedy, Declan Ryan and several players are on record as saying that Tipperary has an excellent backroom team. Is it a joke that this backroom team has helped Tipperary to get to three successive All Ireland finals, something that has not been achieved since the early 1960s? Mr. Murphy alleges that there are 3 or 4 physios or Doctors present at training and suggests that there should only be 1 Doctor and 1 Physio. The team has 1 only physio and never has had more than 1 physio. Two Doctors work with the team but normally only 1 is ever present at training. One of the Doctors is with the team for over 10 years and the other for more than 5 and neither charges for their professional services. We are fortunate to have such people dedicated to Tipperary hurling and they actually save the County Board a lot of money by the efficient and effective way they look after the team’s medical welfare. The presence of a strong medical team at training also contributes to injury prevention and rapid injury recovery through prompt diagnosis and remedy. This in turn reduces medical support costs. Mr. Murphy’s comments are an unworthy attempt to undermine the need for and impugn the integrity of the decent and honourable people that form the backroom team for the Tipperary senior hurlers.
Mr. Murphy states that “players getting food after training was a luxury during the good times but it is now a luxury the County Board cannot afford, so that should be scraped (sic)”. Firstly, giving food to players after training is not a luxury and secondly, it is something that long predates the good times. Thirdly, research has shown that recovery after exercise is essential in order to get the benefit of the training session and be ready to train at a high intensity on a daily basis, which is what our players do through collective training, gym sessions and games. Ensuring players consume the appropriate fluid and food after training is an essential element of a training regime for any serious player. Appropriate food after training ensures that a player can improve and also helps with preventing overuse injuries. This in turn leads to improved performance. Finally, most of our players leave home for work or college early in the morning and even if they do get home before training, they do not have time to have a proper meal. In tests done a number of years ago, we discovered that some of our players were actually dehydrated before they commenced training following their day’s work or their journey to Thurles. This has since been rectified with ongoing monitoring of body fluid levels and readily available liquid drinks at all times at training and matches. Would Mr. Murphy let players home at 9.30pm or 10pm without a proper meal or have them dehydrated? He might but certainly Tipperary County Board will not let that happen. We are committed to proper player welfare which has contributed to our on field success and the off field harmony that has been a feature of Tipperary GAA’s relationship with its county players for many years.
Mr. Murphy also has issues with the officers of the County Board and once again he has his facts wrong. He says he was shocked to see “all of the County Board” on the sideline at the Kilkenny game. The County Board is made up of the full officer board of Tipperary GAA and all the club and other representatives so his statement is wildly inaccurate. If he is referring to the officers of the Board, they were present before the game but in accordance with the rules of the GAA only the Chairman and Secretary sat on the sideline during the game. The other officers sat with the subs and rest of the party in the stand. I don’t know where he gets the link between Board officers being present on the sideline and getting expenses and meals. Being present does not mean that meals are provided and expenses are claimed. The officers of Tipperary County Board have no apology to make to anybody for attending Tipperary games or for attending to their duties on the day of games. County Board officers have meals with teams after games but not always, the overall cost of this is minimal and I don’t think it is unreasonable given the time and effort put in on a voluntary basis.
Mr. Murphy further proposes “that the County Board officers take a pay cut to decrease on expenses”. Again Mr. Murphy has his information wrong. There is one County Board officer paid and that is the Secretary, Tim Floyd. All the other officers carry out their roles on a voluntary basis and are allowed a small amount of mileage expenses for certain journeys. It is against the rules of the Association for other officers to be paid. While Mr. Floyd’s salary is a fair one for his position, it does not in any way reflect the extra time and hours he gives to Tipperary GAA. He is paid to work 40 hours per week but it is the norm for him to give double that time to Tipperary GAA. We are fortunate to have a man of his ability and calibre working for the county. Cutting his pay would be unfair and unnecessary and would make no appreciable difference to the state of the Board’s finances.
Mr. Murphy expressed his shock at what he alleges was the moving of the Tipperary hurlers to Templemore while the “football team got the run of Semple Stadium”. In keeping with the rest of his letter, Mr. Murphy is wrong once again. The Tipperary senior football team were playing Antrim in an Allianz football league game which had been scheduled for several weeks to take place in Semple Stadium. The senior hurlers were playing Cork in the semi-final of the Waterford Crystal Cup and this game was never intended to be played in Semple Stadium nor has it been ever the practice to play these games at the Stadium. The Stadium at this time of year is normally used only for Allianz Hurling and Football League games or national club fixtures. We did consider, in fairness to supporters wishing to attend both games, if Semple Stadium could accommodate both games but the condition of the pitch meant this was not possible. The hurlers were not moved – they played their Waterford Crystal home games in Dolla, Nenagh and Templemore this year just as they have played them in places like Cahir and Clonmel in previous years. We recognise that hurling is our main sport but it is our duty and pleasure to support our football teams also. Our only All Ireland success last year was our minor footballers so we are more than just a hurling county. Our role as County Board officers is to encourage and facilitate all our county teams and this we do without one code being discriminated against at the expense of another.
Finally may I say that I was disappointed that the Tipperary Star printed Mr Murphy’s letter given it was filled with so many inaccuracies, many of which should have been known to the Tipperary Star. His letter has caused upset to many decent people either playing for Tipperary or working on a voluntary basis for the GAA and its players. I thank you for the opportunity to put the record straight.
Is mise le meas
Gearoid O Riain
Oifigeach Caidreamh Poibli
Coiste Chontae Thiobraid Arann
Lar na Pairce