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Dublin: 8°C Monday 30 November 2020

Donal Óg disagrees that GAA is on the way to turning professional

Eugene McGee may have predicted that pay for play is on the cards but the GPA chairman takes another view.

Donal Óg Cusack speaking today.
Donal Óg Cusack speaking today.
Image: Web Summit

DONAL ÓG CUSACK disagrees that professionalism is on the cards in the GAA despite former All-Ireland winning boss Eugene McGee predicting this week that pay for play is on the way ‘in about 10-15 years’.

GPA chairman Cusack, who was speaking at a discussion on ‘Amateur Ethos in a Professional Game’ at the 2014 Web Summit today in the RDS, revealed that his views on playing professionally have changed during his career.

“When I was a younger man, 19-20, I would have loved to have been paid for playing my game. But the more I went through the career and now when I’m looking back, I’m happy that I wasn’t a professional. I think it’s actually a more wholesome model that we have in the association.

“The danger with it for me, and it was interesting to see some experienced commentators this week in Ireland speaking about the inevitability about the game going professional. I would disagree with that and the concern I would have is that you take a young kid from Dublin, Monaghan, Cork or wherever, you put him in to a professional setup.

A general as Stephen Cluxton leads the Dublin team The Dublin senior football team before this year's All-Ireland semi-final.

“We all know that the lifespan of professional sports people is shortening, it’s the same in our games. He’d maybe make a full time salary out of it but then when he gets injured or is finished playing or is no more good to the team he’s playing with, he’s dropped back out of that system again and hasn’t had the life experience that the current inter county player gets.”


Cusack also reckons that a transfer system could be potentially introduced in the GAA if professionalism was brought in.

“I think the big thing if the game did go professional would be the transfer system would have to be looked at and the whole ethos of our game is that our players are totally connected to the communities in which they grew up.

Sportsfile (Web Summit) Donal Óg Cusack and Patrick Steenberge with Oisin Langan Source: Web Summit

“Yes, they go away and play sport at a very high level and it’s a fantastic experience and everything should be done to facilitate that almost Olympian spirit that they possess.

“But the key thing is that in most situations, they go back in to their communities post their playing days. That whole model that’s been driven by the modern day players and we speak to players every day of the week and the desire is not there for the game to go professional. But what desire does exist is that players should benefit in other parts of their lives.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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