INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan Jerry Kiernan (file photo).
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'They tell themselves they're training hard' - Kiernan critical of GAA Players Scheme
The former Irish athlete had some strong words about payment to inter-county players in an interview last night.

FORMER IRISH ATHLETE Jerry Kiernan believes GAA players do not train hard enough to warrant grants.

It was announced yesterday that the Irish Sports Council and the GAA were renewing their agreement for the next two years meaning €900,000 will be made available for inter-county players to receive payments of around €400-per-year.

Kiernan, who represented Ireland in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics Games and regularly appears as an athletics analyst on RTE Sport, is opposed to the scheme, however – suggesting there is too much emphasis put on the GAA.

Speaking on Off The Ball last night, Kiernan said: “I think that the GAA are the richest sporting organisation in the country and should be well able to look after themselves.

I watch some of the games occasionally but I don’t particularly like the GAA. I don’t like football in particular. I don’t think there’s much to it, but I watched bits of the national league games over the weekend and what struck me was how unfit players were.

“An athlete I coach, Joe Sweeney, training 120 mile-a-week for the last six months, ran a 30km road race in Holland last weekend and won the race. There was no mention of it on the national airwaves.

“We’re giving so much prominence to a sport that I feel doesn’t deserve it.”

Kiernan added that the commitment to training made by athletes in other sports is not matched by those participating at inter-county level in football and hurling.

“I don’t have a high opinion of their fitness or their commitment to fitness. I understand that it means an awful lot to people in the country and from an economic point of view when you’ve got thousands of people going to the games it means a lot to the country.

“If this money, and it’s only a small amount, wasn’t given to them, would it dilute the attendances at the championships? I don’t think so.”

I believe that the GAA people live in a cloistered world, don’t think beyond what they do and they tell themselves that they’re training hard.

“I always notice as well when they’re commenting on things they often talk about the sacrifices they make. You’ll never hear that among athletes, boxers, swimmers or people who do international running.”

“If there is a finite amount of money involved I would only give it to people who are competing internationally.”

Listen to the full Off The Ball interview here

Two more years: €900k provided to GAA for Player Grants Scheme

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