GAA ‘rich marketing tool’ for AFL

MICKEY HARTE has accused the GAA of becoming “a rich marketing tool” for the AFL and labelling the international rules series as a “charade” to mask their primary goal which he says is to “cream talented athletes” from the GAA crop.

While Seán Cavanagh was invoking the memory of Cormac McAnallen in an attempt to spur the Irish team ahead of this evening’s second test at Croke Park, his Tyrone manager remains a trenchant opponent of the series.

Harte insists that he has no issues with the AFL or any other sporting organisation attempting to recruit the best athletes, nor with gaelic footballers turning to professional sport, be it soccer, rugby or Aussie Rules.

What he “cannot comprehend” though, is the GAA’s continuing relationship with the AFL, given some players are leaving gaelic games for Aussie Rules.

“Why has the GAA officially engaged with one of these rival sporting organisations, namely the AFL, and in so doing facilitate a flow of some of our best young players to the southern hemisphere destination?” asks Harte in The Irish News.

“For sure, without this official link, some Gaelic footballers would still be attracted towards Australian Rules football and that will always be their prerogative, but I don’t think it is prudent for the GAA as an organisation to facilitate such moves.

“What a rich marketing tool the GAA has become for the AFL. No wonder they want to retain the compromise (sic) rules series as they are guaranteed huge national publicity two to three weeks in advance of the so-called Tests, even more saturation when they are on, and yet more review space when the series is complete.

“Add in the official launch months ago and the constant drip feed of information relating to Irish players’ exploits in AFL and it becomes clear why they have such a vested interest in this charade.”

Harte does not accept the opportunity of representing your country as a genuine argument for the retention of international rules either.

He argues that the players will always want to play because of the perks and profile they receive. It is the lack of profile afforded to the hurling/shinty series that gives a lie to the notion that giving the players the chance to wear the national jersey is important to the GAA.

“If this ‘opportunity’ is so much about representing your country, why then does the hurling/shinty hybrid version only receive PS status?

“I just discovered this week that such an event was taking place. How many have been aware that Joe Dooley is the manager?"

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