GAA Football

Pay for play scheme could be a winner for GAA says Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton

Brian Fenton and his Dublin team-mates celebrate after winning the 2017 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at Croke Park, Dublin. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Tony McGee

Playing for pay is a hot topic in GAA but, according to Dublin star midfielder Brian Fenton, there is a way to overcome the issue without losing the amateur status of the Association.

And the Raheny clubman also says he doesn't believe that the International Rules can be detrimental to the GAA.

The notion of ideas planted in many heads of trying their luck in the Aussie Rules game is not one he buys in to in a big way.

On the pay-for-play issue Fenton had this direct approach: “Young players could be paid a fee per game to encourage them to stay at home instead of heading off to the States during the summer.

“When a county is knocked out of the Championship early many players head off but, if they were to get a fee for playing on at home, it would, I believe, encourage many to remain.

“The GAA is not short of money.”

That suggestion would surely meet with stout opposition.

Fenton was a popular man as he cut the tape to open the upgraded St Paul's ground, at Shaw's Road in Belfast, at the weekend.

Asked for his views on the International Rules

“Some players have indeed done that and there, surely, is an attraction,'' said the Raheny man.

“Any day that a GAA player can test himself against the professionals is good.

“Living in the sunshine and getting paid for playing is a big attraction.

“But I don't think that all that many GAA players would take up the offer.

“There was a lot said about the possibility of David Clifford (Kerry minor star) joining up but he has ended that prospect.

“In Ireland, it is an amateur game and we play it for the love of it, but it doesn't put bread on the table and we have to work to do that.

“Playing and training in the sunshine and getting paid for it is an attraction to some but not to me.

“I love the culture of the GAA and the voluntarism so I wouldn't change that.”

Fenton might well have been on the plane to Australia on Sunday with the Irish squad but, like the rest of his county team-mates, he turned down the offer of being involved.

He stresses, however, it was a personal choice, not a group decision.

It may have looked as if it was a decision taken by the Dublin players not to get involved but that is not true,” he said.

“I recently took up a new job and I felt that I couldn't take three weeks off work. It was a great honour to be asked to represent Ireland but I just couldn't respond, this time. I hope I get the offer again.

“Some of the other players have championship matches – some hurling and some football. I also have a league promotion match this weekend with my club.”

Many football followers would think that Brian is a little unlucky not to have matched his three All-Ireland medals with a third Allstar award ,at the weekend, but he doesn't see it that way.

“James McCarthy came into the Dublin team at midfield and he did a marvellous job this year.

“He was a pleasure to play alongside and he thoroughly deserved the Allstar award. I don't feel hard done by in any way,” he maintained.

The big man revealed that he made his senior county debut in the Anto Finnegan Charity Match, at Ravenhill. He also played in Belfast in the Sigerson Cup, with UCD, against St Mary's University so Saturday's visit to St Paul's was his third to the city.

“I'm still a stranger here all the same,” he cracked.

He may have been but he proved to be a very welcome stranger.

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