GAA Football

Entire notion of the GAA is 'being screwed into the ground' claims Joe Brolly

Joe Brolly at the Conway Mill in west Belfast this week for the launch of revamped Casement Park proposals
Picture by Mal McCann  
Frank Craig

JOE BROLLY has launched a stinging attack on the overall direction of the GAA and the manner in which clubs are left trailing in the wake of county teams.

The outspoken RTÉ pundit was in Donegal last weekend for the launch of former Tír Chonaill star Donal Reid’s book Confessions of a Gaelic Footballer. The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) also feels his wrath, with the former Derry sharpshooter putting the boot into their lack of involvement beyond elite inter-county players.

Brolly said: “I think the big issues [in the GAA] remain the same. They remain the same because the leadership won’t deal with them. We don’t have people of strategy… The county schedule goes on for nine or 10 months. That needs to be changed.

“Reduce the county fixtures, get rid of all the subsidiary competitions and run a very quick League off, Sunday after Sunday and then have a very quick Championship too. Get that all finished by mid July and then that’s your space for club football. It would leave room for an off-season.”

Brolly dismissed the efforts  of the GPA and questions whether the desire is there at all to tackle what he labels the real issues in GAA: “The issue with the GPA is you’re giving €6.5m a year to a private company. What do they actually do?

“They raise money in America. They help university graduates. Let’s face it, nearly all of the players now are university graduates. The drift towards professionalism and the fact that nothing has ever been done about the problems that we really have. Problems like professional managers… come on, we all know what the real issues are. They haven’t been tackled.

“The last visionary that we had as a president in the GAA was Peter Quinn. The reason Croke Park was there was to pay for our ideals so we didn’t have to do these kind of things.

“But increasingly now county boards are like the boards of any League of Ireland soccer team. They are only interested in the county team. Look at the club championship in Donegal. It’s been run off like a blitz. It’s the same in Dublin and most other counties.”

The 1993 All-Ireland winner then recounted a conversation he says he had that morning with a county minor. He labelled his schedule as “insane” and another example of a “real issue” that isn’t being tackled.

“I met a county minor this morning that was fresh out of training – he said his fifth session of the week. In October? It’s insane. That’s the truth. Nothing is being done about any of this.

“Aogán Ó Fearghail says we [the clubs] are the lifeblood of the association. Come on. It’s such a pity to see what’s happening. We maintain a pretence that everything is going well. At club level, at underage level, with all the volunteers and fantastic participation, we have a great social outlet.

"But beyond that, the whole notion of the GAA is being screwed into the ground.”

GAA Football

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