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'I'm no entertainer' -- Donal Óg Cusack on his approach to Sunday Game analysis
Others in Montrose may think the viewers want a bit of craic, but the former Cork keeper says he’s interested in the game.

PAT SPILLANE DREW criticism from many fans of Gaelic games before the championship when he said, in an interview with the Irish Times, that he was on our screens to entertain, not analyse.

The Kerry icon’s Punch-and-Judy show with fellow pundit Joe Brolly defines RTÉ’s coverage of football games these days.

But Cusack has earned praise from hurling fans for his smart analysis of games since his introduction earlier this year.

“For my own role, what I’m interested in is talking about the game, the skills, the technical side of it, and that’s what I told them when they asked me about getting involved,” says the Cloyne clubman.

“I’m not an entertainer, all you have to do is spend a night out with me to know that; I’m interested in the game.”

But is that attitude shared by everyone in the Sunday Game?

“Most definitely not. Some people would say — and I understand that, they’re entitled to their opinion — that it’s half-nine on a Sunday night, people are getting ready for work in the morning, so I understand both sides of the argument. All I can give you is what I’m doing, what I want to do, what my expectations are, and I have those understandings in place with RTÉ.”

Cusack — who is chairman of the players’ union, the GPA — says one of the biggest challenges facing the Association is ‘the profile of characters’ and the relationship with the media needs to be improved.

“If you walked 20 of those Kilkenny lads into a hurling bar, people would name their positions, but wouldn’t be able to distinguish 90 per cent of them. That’s part of the bigger discussion. The game need characters,” he says.

“But most managers coming in take a short term view. But where is the vision? Who has the vision? I’m not interested in talking about individual players. It needs to be around the bigger picture. Could we get back to the day when the media are allowed into dressing rooms? That’s a long way away. I remember those days.

“But anyone who tells me the relationship at the moment is healthy, and where it needs to be, I don’t agree with them. One of my roles with Cork was to get players to talk to the media.

“My experience now is that most players look on interviews as a chore — I’ve enough pressure already. He’s looking at his priorities, he’s worried about getting his place next Sunday, he’s trying to get ready for work in the morning along with doing his recovery stuff. I think that’s where the whole debate should take place, how do you get it back to a healthy situation.”

Here’s Davy Fitz, Anthony Daly and John Allen pucking around in Croke Park

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