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'I wouldn't be thinking of going down that road' - Kernan on GAA clubs getting compo for AFL signings

A group of young Gaelic footballers have made the move to Australia in recent weeks.

JOE KERNAN, IRELAND’S International Rules boss last year, does not support the idea of GAA clubs being compensated for young players joining AFL clubs.

Joe Kernan dejected after the game Joe Kernan after Ireland's International Rules defeat last year to Australia. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The issue has cropped up again recently with a group of young players – Dublin’s James Madden, Derry duo Anton Tohill and Callum Brown, Cork’s Mark Keane, Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor and Sligo’s Red Óg Murphy – all signing deals and making the move to Australia.

Meath’s Conor Nash, who plays with Hawthorn, and Kerry great Tomás Ó Sé have both suggested that it may be time for the GAA clubs of these players to be reimbursed after they have departed.

But Kernan is not sure about ‘going down that road’ to implement such a policy.

“We’re not professional and even though we put a lot of time into it, I suppose we don’t want to see anyone going away or the good players we have leaving.

“But these boys are amateurs and we’re always going to be amateurs. If they can go out and do something out in a different country and make a living for themselves who are we to say no?

“So, no, I wouldn’t be thinking of going down that road. I would just hope that, one, they wouldn’t go and that would solve all the problems. But if they do go we have to support them and wish them luck and hopefully watch them performing and hopefully they stay safe.

“The unfortunate thing is it is very physical and a lot of the boys that come back either retire early with injury or when they come back they’re never the same. That’s the only worry that I would have or the biggest worry.”

Trocaire Gifts 14 Joe Kernan in Crossmaglen with his son Aaron and grandson James.

Kernan’s GAA focus this weekend will be on Sunday afternoon in Omagh. Since 1996 his club Crossmaglen Rangers have picked up 20 Armagh titles, 11 Ulster crowns and 6 All-Ireland triumphs.

They are back on the provincial road with an Ulster semi-final against Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair in Healy Park, on the back of emerging from a testing encounter with Tyrone’s Coalisland.

“We have a very young squad – there’s 17 U21 players – and it was probably a new experience for a lot of them, not winning a county title the last few years and it was the first time they came up against something like this.

“It was high intensity and we didn’t play as well as we can, but we got a few scores late on, some great scores, that turned the game for us in our favour and we’re delighted to be in the semi-final now.

“There’ll be nobody here talking about Ulster finals or All-Irelands – it’s just the next match. Gaoth Dobhair have come through a tough Donegal championship, so they’ll be looking forward to it. We met them a few years ago and we had a win over them so they’ll be wanting to turn that around.”

  • * Joe Kernan was speaking at the launch of Trócaire’s Christmas Gifts campaign. You can buy Trócaire gifts online at www.trocaire.org/gifts

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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