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'It would take away from the love of the game if you ended up getting paid'

Austin Gleeson is against inter-county players receiving an allowance, as was proposed in a recent leaked report.

WATERFORD STAR AUSTIN Gleeson wouldn’t like to see inter-county players being paid an allowance, as was proposed in a recent GAA report.

Launch of The Go Games Provincial Days in partnership with Littlewoods Ireland Austin Gleeson was in Croke Park at the launch of the Go Games Provincial Days in partnership with Littlewoods Ireland Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

The Irish Times published some findings from the leaked ‘Towards 2034′ document last week, where it suggested the traditional expenses system is not fit for purpose. In its place the report recommended the payment of an allowance to players, which would bring the GAA’s amateur status into question.

But the 2016 Hurler of the Year believes financially rewarding players goes against the ethos of the GAA.

“I don’t think at all it should happen,” he said. “The reason everyone loves hurling is it’s amateurs playing an amateur sport. Everyone after waking up Monday morning going into work after playing 70 minutes of a championship game the day before.

“It would take away from the love of the game. If you’re getting paid, you could go training and wander around because ‘it doesn’t matter, I’m getting paid anyway’. I don’t think it should come in. Every team gets their expenses.

“There are (Waterford) lads up in Dublin who get their expenses and everything is put in place food-wise after training. They get their championship gear, you get free physio if you need it. There are doctors there if you need doctors so there are always little allowances there for you.

“Look at the way soccer has gone – there are players sitting on benches now going just because the money is there. They don’t really care if they play or not. I don’t think that’s the way the GAA would go; I just think it would take away from the love of the game if you ended up getting paid.”

Waterford's Austin Gleeson shoots on goal Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Gleeson is awaiting the results of a scan on a hamstring injury he sustained in club championship action at the weekend.

The 22-year-old was forced off just 14 minutes into Mount Sion’s 2-12 to 1-14 win over Roanmore on Saturday night, but he’s hopeful he’ll be fit for Waterford’s Munster SHC opener against Clare on 27 May.

“I was just running and whatever way I leaned off it, it was popping. So  I don’t know how bad it is. It’s still inflamed a small bit but we’ll know in the next few days when I get a scan done and we’ll see how it reacts then.

“It’s not as bad as it was but (it will be) a few weeks anyway. You just worry about the fitness side of things if I’m out for a few weeks. Getting up to championship level I suppose is the hard part.”

It’s been a frustrating start to the year for Gleeson as he’s picked up several niggles in recent months.

“The Tipp game I had my right quad, the Clare game with my ankle, missed the Cork game and first time back playing again I done the hamstring.

“I haven’t had that many injuries but three already this year is a bit of a disaster but we’ll keep working away in the gym. There’s a rower and a skier in the gym we use to try and keep the fitness up.”

Waterford’s bye in Munster is on the opening weekend, meaning they face four high intensity championship games over the next four weeks. Derek McGrath shared game-time around the Deise squad in the spring with 29 different players getting starts, and Gleeson hopes the panel will have a stronger look to it come the summer.

Sean Curran tackles Austin Gleeson Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We have a bye the first week probably luckily for myself to help me get back in time. then four weeks in a row. (We have games in) Clare, Limerick, Limerick (again) and Tipp – that’s the travelling we have to do.

“It will be tough but we’ll have to be as fit as we ever were and we have the squad now that we hope can go on and qualify.

“Four 70 minutes in four weeks is tough – it’s totally different to league, it’s much higher intensity. That’s probably why he wanted to play the 29 lads. Knowing him (McGrath) he probably has the four teams picked already for the four games and what way we’re going to go in the four days.

“So just going on injuries, hopefully everyone is injury free he’ll stick to them four teams so it’s something maybe that four or five of the lads might actually end up playing the majority of the games, but it’s going to be very tough, especially the third and fourth games. The legs are going to get heavy, the mind might kick in saying, ‘You’re not able to do this, you’re not able to do that’. But it’s just something we have to manage I suppose.”

Waterford's Michael Walsh arrives before the game Waterford's Michael 'Brick' Walsh arrives at Walsh Park before the game against Clare last month. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Finally, Gleeson played down the impact of the proposed redevelopment of Walsh Park, which would mean it will be 2020 before the Deise play a home game in the Munster championship.

“It is not a problem in camp. We have played more games in recent years in Thurles than we have in Walsh Park so we don’t mind playing Cork there.

“It does not matter where the game is played, it is just a field, it is 15 on 15 in a game of hurling and we just have to go out and give it our all.

“The plans have started to do work down there so the plan is that it will be ready by 2020 and we have to be ready by then.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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