GAA needs to do more for ex-players: Kerry star Kieran Donaghy
KERRY ace Kieran Donaghy has urged the GAA to create a pension scheme for its inter-county players after they’ve retired.
Speaking to the Irish News to promote his recently published autobiography, entitled: ‘What Do You Think Of That?’, the Austin Stacks clubman said an inter-county player’s post-playing days is one key area the Association needs to look at.
Donaghy is not in favour of pay-for-play but believes there should be some form of financial compensation after retirement, similar to what happens in Australian Rules.
“I think GAA players are looked after terrifically well by county boards,” said Donaghy.
“They’re getting all their medical stuff, mileage expenses. My only slight problem with the GAA is there is nothing there for players when they retire.”
Donaghy, who won four All-Ireland medals and three Allstars with Kerry, spoke to former Kerry and Sydney Swans star Tadgh Kennelly back in 2010 when he was due to receive a “redundancy package” from the AFL for every year of service.
Donaghy added: “In the AFL, they get 25 grand a year for every year they’ve played after they retire. So if you play 10 years you get £250,000. It’s a retirement fund for operations and whatever.
“You look at GAA players and they’re putting their work lives on hold. They’re staying in college for an extra few years so they can play more football.
“If a GAA player retires after playing eight or 10 years, if they were getting 80 grand that could be put down as a deposit for a house for themselves or to put their kids through college.”
Donaghy’s assertion is based on the prospect of players choosing different sports ahead of Gaelic Games because of the increasing demands placed on inter-county players.
“That’s the way the GAA has to start going with it as you’re not going to have these guys any more because in the modern game fellas won’t be able to put everything on hold and won’t be able to live the life that they’re looking to live.
“I don’t think we should ever be paid [for playing] and I don’t think we can ever be paid. But do we give five or 10 grand a year to a player who has put their body on the line for their county non-stop, put everything on hold, should there be something there for them when they do retire?
“I’m not saying this because I’m thinking of retiring… Of course, players have the medals and the memories and the great days and all that but wouldn’t it be great if there was a bit of pressure taken off them to paying off a fella’s mortgage or getting a new house or to pay for hip operations or whatever?”
The GAA is close to agreeing a five-year extension with Sky Sports worth €55m to show Championship games in football and in hurling.
In the summer, the GAA agreed to pay the Gaelic Players Association [GPA] €6.2m per year, a chunk of which will go towards a special fund for former inter-county players, as well as an increase in mileage expenses and nutrition expenses.
The 33-year-old has penned a fascinating, warts-and-all autobiography that provides unrivalled insight into the Kerry changing room over the last decade and the heartache of losing his father.
Donaghy is still considering his own inter-county future ahead of the 2017 season but believes Kerry are in safe hands with Eamonn Fitzmaurice committing to another two years in the hotseat.
“We’ve been going up against probably the best Dublin team of all-time,” said the 2006 Footballer of the Year.
“We’ve pushed them to the pin of their collar on two occasions… We’ve been right there with them over the last few years.
“The job Eamonn Fitzmaurice did in 2014 when the ‘Gooch’ [cruciate] was gone and [Paul] Galvin, [Eoin] Brosnan and these guys retired was unbelievable.
“And the job he continues to do is unbelievable. The fact that he’s there for the next two years is great news for Kerry. I’m sure all the players will be delighted to have him back.”