After sending up a few flares expressing caution about gate receipts from 2018, the GAA's revenues have bounced back spectacularly in 2019 on the back of a huge lift in ticket sales and dividends from Croke Park stadium.
Central Council income hascrossed the €70m barrier for the first time, coming in at €73,868,832, with gates receipts increased by €6.5m. Overall, the growth rate from year-to-year was 16 per cent.
Some €3m of this was down to the All-Ireland football final replay between Dublin and Kerry but attendances climbed by five per cent across all GAA matches while the ticket price increase, which provoked much adverse commentary last season, also brought in added revenue that the Association has been able to filter back down to the 'grassroots'.
Director of Finance Ger Mulryan explained that €18m travelled direct through the insurance fund (€8m), a €3m club grounds grant fund, up by €500,000 from 2018 and €7m to coaching.
"There's €18 million there that we can directly relate as going back through the grassroots of the Association, not through hand-outs but through initiatives and programmes that the individual members of our association get the benefit of," said Mulryan.
He said the intention was to redistribute €1.5m from the ticket increase and they were able to "deliver that and more," adding that overall the GAA had a "really positive year."
In 2018, the absence of Mayo from the latter stages of the championship and a general sense of gloom around the football championship contributed to a gate receipt fall to €29.57m.
But with better pairings, All-Ireland football championship revenues rose €5.5m to €18.2 from €12.7m, a 43 per cent increase, while the All-Ireland hurling championship went up by a more modest €300k, though that was with one less game as there was no All-Ireland hurling semi-final replay to account for.
Hurling league revenues were slightly down but there was a €500k lift in football league revenues to €5.5m despite an overall drop in attendance of four per cent.
The consolidated figure, a picture of the gross revenues incorporating Croke Park stadium, the insurance fund and other bodies' income was €118.4m.
Commercial income, derived from media rights and competition sponsors, grew by around €300k to come in at €19.9m.
Croke Park stadium delivered a €10.5m dividend, up by €2.5m from 2018. Much was this was down to the football final replay, increased ticket prices converting to an increased rental for the stadium (up €2.26m to €9.25m) but despite one less concert in 2019 and no Papal visit to account for resulting in a €1.3m decrease in facilities hire, conference centre business has thrived with beverage, food and room hire increasing by €2.4m.
Mulryan said the Association had put in a very strong performance over the last 12 months but delivered the obligatory caution about 2020 and 2021 with stadium development in Navan, Newbridge, Waterford and possibly Casement Park absorbing significant cost.
State funding was also up €1m, due largely to an increase in the Government grants to inter-county players that rose from €2.3m to €3m.
Mulryan said the intention was to return 80 cent of every euro taken into the Association at club and county level and they managed to exceed that, delivering 84 cent per euro back after administration costs of more than €11m were stripped out and a small surplus of 146k was retained.
The additional money has allowed the GAA to increase its overall spend on coaching and games development to €13.5m in games, up from €11m spent in 2018, 20 per cent of overall expenditure.
Mulryan presented a map of the country illustrating where the 365 coaches that the GAA employ are based and what the central contributions were with 64 in Dublin (€1.2m), 118 in Leinster (€2.1m), 35 in Munster (€1m), 74 in Connacht (€0.7m), 62 in Ulster (€1.2m) and 12 in Belfast (€0.5m) which is part of the Gaelfast initiative.