Paul Geaney: Pay for play a long way away

Kerry All-Star Paul Geaney believes we are a long way from GAA players being paid or becoming fully professional.
Paul Geaney: Pay for play a long way away

“On professionalism, I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime, but eventually we will, because of the way the GAA is going,” Geaney said at the launch of the GAA Super Games Centre at Tralee CBS yesterday afternoon.

He said it would happen eventually, as “it’s going abroad and, once you go outside the island of Ireland and if the game takes off and they will be professional and Ireland will be the last amateur country left standing, but I am talking about maybe 50 to 100 years time, when it spreads to say the USA, where there will be big money and you will have pay for play there and the wheel starts turning then to professionalism.

“Then, because Ireland will still be amateur, it will start losing players and we will have to go professional as well, but it is light years away I reckon.

“In the short term, it will not happen, because it is not sustainable, but I will say once you start getting involved with companies like Sky, and then you are starting to look down the barrel of professionalism, but not right now.”

Geaney reckons that, because Dublin have been raising the bar, others are following, but he is not sure how much higher it can be raised and still keep players onside.

“The reason the bar has been raised and players are involved seven days a week is the fact the GAA are making a push to go global. Big deals are being negotiated and it’s profitable for county boards to win All-Irelands. Once one team is pushing the boundaries and they win an All-Ireland, then it sets the standard for the rest. Even the club teams are talking about what Dublin are doing at the moment. They talk about them getting their meals delivered, training twice a day, including early in the morning and the club team wants to emulate that.

“It is probably the same for inter-county teams, you look at Dublin and try and match them, so it’s copycat stuff. It’s all about pushing boundaries, when one team does, another will follow and so on.”

So is the current trend of players leaving their clubs and spending months training with their counties sustainable?

“You are also emulating professional sports though we are amateurs. Is it sustainable? I think it is right now but if it goes any further I am not sure because it depends whether the players will be willing to keep going with it in the future.

“My generation will be fine because this is totally sustainable for me. Then I am in a privileged position to be living at home in Kerry and have a flexible job that I can do it. But it’s different for a doctor or an engineer who is working in Limerick or Cork. It’s all about recovery and if you don’t get home until 1am and have to get up at 6am again, it’s difficult.

“That is where the cards could collapse as it were in the future “

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