Former GAA President Nickey Brennan has mounted a robust defence of the grants scheme for inter-county hurlers and footballers.
“It is a wise move to retain them,” the Conahy Shamrocks clubman insisted in his column in the Kilkenny People this week in which he takes a swipe at former international athlete, Gerry Kiernan, who gave the thumbs down to the move by Government.
The background to the grants lies in the tax rebate which professional sports people in this country benefit from when they retire.
“GAA players, as amateurs, cannot enjoy similar benefits so annual grants were seen as a fair compromise,” Mr Brennan pointed out.
“The payments to the players are relatively modest, but not insignificant,” he added. “Whatever one’s view of the scheme, no one should understate the economic importance of the GAA to the country.”
He accepted the same applies to other sports, but none could claim to deliver the countrywide economic benefit which the GAA provides.
Former Olympian Gerry Kiernan took exception to the grants scheme, but why he commented so negatively on GAA matters when voicing his opinion astounded Mr Brennan.
“He has always come across as a man with a big chip on his shoulder,” he said. “His comments regarding the fitness levels of inter-county footballers were unnecessary and showed an ignorance of the game and the input by players.”
Mr Brennan said it made no sense to compare the GAA sportsmen or women with international athletes, which Mr Kiernan apparent did.
“Kiernan’s comments made for good radio and sound bites, but do no favours whatsoever for his own sport of athletics,” Mr Brennan said.
See Kilkenny People this week.