by John Fallon
The most successful year ever for Galway GAA has been achieved despite a significant drop in the amount of money spent preparing teams.
The news will be welcomed by those GAA people opposed to large amount of money being spent on teams and especially on outside managers.
Despite winning the All-Ireland senior and minor hurling titles, the national hurling league, Leinster hurling title, the Division 2 football crown and Connacht U21 and minor football titles, Galway GAA still managed to reduce the cost of running their inter-county teams in 2017.
An impressive year-on-year reduction of €66,454 was made by Galway this year with the total cost of running the county game coming in at €1,295,639.
With total team administration costs of just under €1.3 million, Galway are way behind even near neighbours Mayo who spent €1.54 million on their team administration, the majority on their senior football team alone.
But this good news in Galway comes in the shadow of the massive debt that the county still shoulders from their undeveloped Mountain South training centre near Athenry, which has saddled the county with a sizeable debt.
Galway hurling board purchased over 100 acres of land at the height of the Celtic Tiger period and had hoped to develop a state-of-the-art training complex worth about €8m. The Galway hurling board paid €2.8m for 102 acres and have since being paying six figure sums on its annual bank interest.
But the decision has finally been reached to sell on the prime site next year, which will reduce capital investment and annual loan repayments, according to Galway GAA chief executive John Hynes.
In his annual address to the Galway Convention, which takes place tonight (MON) in Loughrea, Hynes said the management committee will continue to make every effort to improve Galway GAA's financial performance in the forthcoming year, while the sale of Mountain South is a key strategy in the coming year.
"Our current infrastructure debt stands at €3.1 million and our annual repayments of these loans in 2017 amount to €265,000," said Hynes.
"To avoid an unsustainable increase in our loan repayments in 2018 we plan to sell the property at Mountain South and use the sale proceeds to reduce our debts and repayments.
"The reduction of our capital debt is one of our top priorities and one of the biggest challenges we are facing."
Achieving such a reduction in team costs while having such a successful on field campaign will please the board, but that success also helped to boost income streams.
National league gate receipts increased from €97,408 in 2016 to €195,680 this year, while gross funding from supporters clubs experienced a huge jump from €109,015 to €285,930 this year. Gross fundraising income also increase by nearly €90,000 in 2017.
Sponsorship for the current year remained steady at over half a million euro in 2017, and Hynes paid tribute to the continued support of Supermac's, who sponsor all of the county's hurling and football teams.
"We are very fortunate that Supermac's, through Pat and Una McDonagh, is the main sponsor of all our inter-county teams," said Hynes.
"I'm delighted that after 28 years of continuous sponsorship of Galway hurling, that Supermac's finally saw the Galway senior team raise the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the Hogan Stand, on the biggest day in the hurling year."