The former director of hurling, during his keynote speech at Saturday’s Games Development conference in Croke Park, said the criticism of players by television pundits is “way out of line” and overshadowing the matches themselves. “I think the criticism is way out of line. It has no place in our association. I cannot see a purpose in it,” said Butler.
“Michael O’Hehir or Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh never said a derogatory word about a player in 70 years.
“They told the truth, but they never said a derogatory remark. Dehumanising individuals is not our business.
“We have a problem with criticism, but it is not the critic who counts. The match is what is important, not what the critic says about the match. We’re nearly gone so far now as to not watch the match at all, only find out what somebody said about it. We’re so removed from the match. What the papers said about the match is deemed more important. The only thing that matters is the match.”
Butler, who played both codes for Tipperary, was also critical of the GAA itself, claiming the Association had lost integrity by allowing club players to be treated so poorly. He described their second class status as a “massive crisis” that must be tackled by all units of the GAA.
“At the moment, we [the GAA] can’t claim integrity. We have a crisis of club and county. We just have a massive crisis to face up to. We aren’t being fair to club players,” he insisted.
“If our club players are the essence of the association, then they have to be brought right back into the centre. It can be done, but it isn’t a bit easy. It has to be faced or otherwise we are going to stay with a lack integrity.”
Club fixtures, he added, cannot continue to be dictated by the inter-county schedule. Club and county must stand on equal footing.
“County didn’t affect us that much in my time. But now there is a blanket ban on matches and the attitude now is that you can play the club matches when the county is finished. There must be time for county and time for club. It is very easy to make county fixtures as there are only so many counties. The trouble is that it is not holistic. We have to make fixtures with everybody included. At present, one part of the Association goes one way and another goes another way.”