Kildare Co. Treasurer Alan Dunney
Cast your mind back a mere 12 months and where we were.
Well, The Lilies had just suffered a major set-back with a loss to Clare, a game that should have been won; a result that ultimately cost promotion.
And while it was one mighty weekend, meeting fans in every nook and cranny in Ennis the evening before, the craic was mighty but little did we know what was just around the corner.
The following Tuesday evening, after that Clare voyage, we were back to the grassroots, the February Co. Board meeting, a gathering that saw Mick Gorman sitting in the ‘hot seat’ for the first time.
As usual February is a somewhat mundane gathering, then again over the last year or two, or three, most of these gathering have become as close to non-events as you could get.
Yet just last week and the 2021 version, the first gathering of the grassroots of Kildare was held, albeit on video link, or zoom or whatever the correct terminology is in these crazy times.
And notwithstanding what these meetings have thrown up in recent times, this one was still to
be welcomed while looking forward to a break for an evening away from the minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day gloom and doom.
There are only so many figures, so many numbers and so many worse case scenarios one can take in before eventually one just calls a halt; reaches for the TV remote button or the radio switch, opt out and head for a walk and escape from the madness for a while.
Chairman Mick Gorman opened proceedings, reminding one and all to press the mute button unless when asked to talk or had something to offer.
The gathering marked the first meeting for recently elected Hon Secretary, Christine Murray and PRO Dave Cahill, the Moorefield and Clane folk respectively, having swopped chairs since convention.
It was a big occasion for Christine in particular, a big step up but one she performed, as expected, admirably, without fuss or bother, herself and the chairman inter-acting effectively and confidently throughout.
Due to the situation we find ourselves in — Level 5 and all that entails — there was little to stir the imagination or even debate. However when treasurer, Alan Dunney, was called to account , it was a bit like listening to and/ or looking at Dr Tony at those nightly TV press briefings where everything is about figures; everything is about numbers; worse case scenarios all the time — and if there is any sign of a bit of light; any sign of a bit of positivity, it is quickly followed by a ‘downer’ and an added bit of information that would knock you back.
Now don't get me wrong, Dr Tony has a job to do and doing it well; he has just one agenda and that is to keep everyone and everybody safe, on their guard and even if there is a hint of a break-
through, he reminds us to stay alert, don't go here, there ... you all know the speel at this stage.
Alan Dunney reminded me a bit like Dr H on Tuesday night.
Two very efficient gentlemen, on top of their briefs, but both bringing news you'd rather not hear.
We have acknowledged here, time and time again over the years, how marvellous a job the treasurer has done since he came into this office, a job that saw the board finances in such a state, if it was anything bar what it is, it would have folded a long time ago.
But since the Caragh clubman took control there has been a seismic turn around in the finances.
A turn-around that has seen red turn to black and deficits turn to surpluses to such a degree that monies to the extent of €800,000 has been salted away for the development of St Conleth's Park.
Now, of course the Covid-19 has put the breaks on and Alan D, just like Tony H, did not hold back when informing all those tuned in on Tuesday just what Kildare Co. Board are facing after a terrible season in 2020.
The treasurer prefaced his report when going through his projected budget for 2021 with the remark that it “does not make for good reading.”
Stressing that the accounts are “an ever evolving situation with covid, government supports, or no government supports; will there be a league or won't there be a league, so and so forth.”
He warmed to his task going through his budget line by line.
Gate receipts, he said, as of last week of January (2021) are already down some €25,000;
Kildare received league cash of €52,000 last year but Croke Park has informed counties that even if the Alliance leagues go ahead there will be no crowds — so no income from that source this year. Zilch.
On Commercial Revenue the treasurer is budgeting for a drop of some €25,000, adding, “that hopefully is not too optimistic.”
Income from Associated Bodies (grants from Croke Park and Leinster Council) a sum that is usually around €175,000 — fell last year to €80,000 — “but as things stand at the moment we are getting nothing from that. Zilch.
Other income from various sources the treasurer is budgeting for a drop of around €75,000 “just to be prudent.”
€90,000 was received in the form of a government grant in 2020, quickly adding that “at the moment, that stands at nil. Zilch.
And finally a once off grant from Sport Ireland, last season, is not expected to be repeated in 2021.
Summarising, as if a summary was required, even the lad at the back of the class, not too bright at the figures, not great at the maths, could have told you this all adds up to a lot of zilches.
But without breaking sweat, without pausing for breath Alan D spat it out, Tony H would be proud of him.
“This could all change of course, but currently as we stand we are budgeting Kildare GAA income for 2021 to be down in the region of €500,000.”
Half a million.
And to the point.
Five hundred thousand smackaroons!
On the bright side.
Holy God I say to myself, aloud, but as my mute button is firmly switched on it matter little, “could there be a bright side to this”?
Well, yes, kinda, a bit as the Hon Treas explained.
“That is where it is; doesn't make for great reading but we are one of the better counties” adding “some of the county treasurers I have been talking to are seriously panicking having run deficits last year of €200-300,000 — that before we even come into this year, so while it is not great, it could be worse.”
Tony H could not have delivered it better.
Succinct, honest, and to the point.
Now, did anyone see George Lee in the building?