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Donaghy wants GAA clubs paid as AFL continues to poach players

As the proposed move of Tyrone's Cathal McShane to the Australian Football League eventually came to nothing, Kieran Donaghy expressed his opinion that AFL clubs wishing to secure the services of Irish GAA players should financially reimburse the clubs affected by this move on Thursday's OTB AM.

When it once appeared likely that Tyrone's All-Star winning forward Cathal McShane was destined to sign a professional AFL contract with the Adelaide Crows, Tadhg Kennelly, an assistant coach and former Premiership winning player with the Sydney Swans, explained to Off the Ball how he had attempted to have his local club in Kerry reimbursed after he had left Listowel for Australia.

Despite the willingness of the AFL's hierarchy to meet Kennelly's request and give money back to the club, the GAA firmly rejected the proposal and that was that.

Yet, struck by a sense of injustice that GAA clubs can lose players they have developed to professional AFL clubs in Australia for no fee whatsoever, Kieran Donaghy, speaking on Thursday's OTB AM, insisted that this practice cannot continue.

"I can't see why a sponsorship deal couldn't be done," he argued. "Go ahead and put 'Adelaide Crows' or whoever on the front of the Dingle jersey! I couldn't give a shit if it meant they got €50,000 to put back into floodlights or whatever. They'd be delighted!"

AFL 20 September 2015; Mark O’Connor, Kerry, lifts the cup after winning All-Ireland minor final. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

The prospect of GAA clubs benefiting financially from the movement of their players is problematic, nevertheless.

As amateurs representing an amateur club, complications would undoubtedly emerge regarding how a player's value is estimated, and the extent of those who may stake a claim in the player's progress to a point whereby the professional club in Australia deems them worthy of signing.

"The club nurtured the love of the game though and the talent to get that far," argued Donaghy for the idea that it is the player's club alone that is owed compensation. "They've been looking after him since he was 5-years-old on a Saturday morning giving him his Coke and Tayto, falling in love with the game.

"Without that, he never gets there. The club is the root of everything."

For Donaghy, it is this important role played in a young player's upbringing that would similarly inform his opinion of where any money that goes back to the clubs should be directed.

"It would have to go back into the kids," he explained, "whatever could be done to improve the club and entice the kids to play.

"You don't want it going back and being misspent on something frivolous, because the clubs are all about the people who have spent time bringing players to this point."

Kieran Donaghy 31 October 2008; Kieran Donaghy celebrates the Irish victory. Toyota International Rules Series, Australia v Ireland, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia. Picture credit: SPORTSFILE

On a local level, Kieran Donaghy has seen what the departure of key players can do to clubs. An All-Ireland winning minor with Kerry, Mark O'Connor, a local of Dingle, signed for the Geelong Cats in 2017.

It is a bittersweet development for those who have helped bring the likes of O'Connor to such a point, argued Donaghy.

"Coaches and parents do that work for Dingle and Kerry," he said of those helping on the ground, "and then it is snatched from some crowd over in Australia with the money and take him on a free transfer.

"Mark knows the ramifications [of leaving] and I'm sure he comes back every winter watching county championship games - like I used to feel watching basketball games - and you can't help your boys.

"Mark O'Connor grew up with these lads, won with these lads and now he's just walking around with a water bottle watching them lose a county semi-final or final.

"There should be something in place that makes it not as easy for these Aussies to say, 'Oh, we'll take you for two years and if it doesn't work or you get injured, good luck!'

"There should be real thought that goes into it."

You can watch back Kieran Donaghy on Thursday's OTB AM here. Watch back this week's Shot Clock here

Download the brand new OTB Sports App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

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Afl Cathal Mcshane GAA Gaelic Football Kerry Kieran Donaghy Mark O'Connor Tyrone

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