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'Pub talkers are now on social...
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'Pub talkers are now on social media' | The issues facing the club GAA game

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

16:55 13 Sep 2020

On the Sunday Paper Review, journalist Michael Verney looked at the issues in the club game, some of which are likely to be exacerbated by COVID-19.

Verney spoke of his own experiences with the club game, in reference to the Whelan family so synonymous with both Birr and Offaly hurling.

Native managers

"When you are a club manager and you are from that town, those faceless people that criticise on social media are the people that you meet on the street. You can't get away from it - people are giving you advice and telling you that should be doing this or that.

"That comes with an awful lot of pressure. There are very few native managers from a town that would stay there for an awful long time. The classic case of a prophet rarely being appreciated in his own land."

Verney used the example of Loughmore Castleiney in Tipperary, whose manager trains teams in the codes of both football and hurling.

"They are an unbelievable story. They won the two [Tipperary finals] in 2013, and Frankie McGrath has brought them back to the hurling and football finals.

"The expenses and everything that comes with outside managers, there is a lad from Loughmore Castleiney and they are training both hurling and football on the same nights.

"They could start the training with hurling and then do football, vice-versa another night, and they are training two or three nights a week. It is working unbelievably well."

Club GAA

Finances available to clubs are increasingly squeezed as the economy begins to contract.

"In some cases, clubs are delighted with [paying significant money to coaches for training sessions], to get a county-style package. They will do their own fundraisers, wash cars and forego expenses if they are driving back.

"Then there are other places where it is almost like a merry-go-round where you see the same faces bouncing around from club to club in a small radius and they might not bring silverware to the clubs and might leave them with a fairly hefty financial burden when they leave."

Social media

Another aspect affecting GAA is the increasing criticism coming from people on Twitter and other platforms.

"Pub talk exists on social media now, where it didn't 10 or 15 years ago.

"Brian Cody is a classic example, people can point to the fact that Kilkenny haven't won an All-Ireland since 2015.

"Their league victory in 2018 and defeat of the reigning All-Ireland and Munster champions last year are two of his best results since he walked through the door in 1998.

"Everyone has a voice now, it is funny listening to some of them but if you're in that bubble [...] it would creep in with players and backroom teams.

"People don't want to wait for anything - they want it to come now."

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