An open goal for the GAA

Last week’s column on the contrast between soccer and GAA fans certainly generated plenty of interest/debate.

It has been put to me since, and on occasions before, that I sometimes come off as being very anti-soccer and rugby. This, I can assure you, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Just ask my wife; I am a sports nut, and like the majority, I gladly jump on the bandwagon as it rolls through town, supporting whatever Irish team that’s heading into battle. As such, the recent results of our soccer and rugby teams certainly brought me no satisfaction. Watching a desolate Brian O’Driscoll, after the most humiliating defeat of his career, was heart-wrenching. Ireland’s greatest sporting ambassador deserved better. To me, and so many others, he embodies everything good about competitive sport. Also, the well documented failings of the soccer team in the Euros, was awfully disappointing. Couple this with Monaghan United’s exit from the Premier Division, and it has been a particularly grim few weeks for soccer fans in my part of the world.

However, in the never-ending tussle to capture the hearts and minds of the country’s youngsters, the GAA must recognise the opportunity that has presented itself. Far from posing a major threat to this summer’s Championship attendances, the recent slips by our competitors have presented Croke Park with an open goal in terms of marketing the GAA as the island’s premier sporting body. Hopefully we can suitably fill this sporting void, and we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with needless controversy. The signs are good so far.

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