Derry footballer Chrissy McKaigue believes GAA top-brass could have done more to keep alive the inter-provincial series.
With Connacht opting not to enter a football team, the Railway Cup — as it is commonly known — is unlikely to take place next month.
McKaigue, part of a Slaughtneil football team this weekend bidding to complete an Ulster club treble for the second year running, says marquee players are still interested in lining out for their province.
Recapturing public imagination, he added, could be achieved by handing over the gate receipts from the inter-provincial series to charity.
“It’s almost like the GAA want it to fail,” McKaigue claimed.
“I remember playing for Ulster against Donegal, in the winter of 2012, for the Michaela Harte foundation and there was something like 20,000 people at it.
“I thought, what a model it could be for inter-provincials; PR it properly and use it as a charity event to actually make an impact on society, but it never happened.
Some might say I’m mad saying that, but if it was done for a greater purpose, you would see big crowds and you would also showcase the games and the players’ abilities and that inspires the youth, but again, there’s the whole GAA logic of if it is too good to be true and makes common sense, then don’t do it.”
Just as competent with a hurley in his hand, McKaigue was midfield on the Slaughtneil team which overcame Ballygalget last month to retain their Ulster hurling crown. The Super 11s came across his radar during the weekend, acknowledging there is a market for the hurling game.
“Dick Clerkin made a good point recently: the sports market is so competitive nowadays and, whether you like that Fenway Classic or the international rules, there is an appetite for it.”
Between the two codes, Slaughtneil’s dual men have lined out for a knockout fixture on 10 of the last 13 weekends. Victory over Cavan Gaels would deliver a third Ulster club football title in four years.
“Fatigue was certainly an issue before the Kilcoo and Omagh games in Ulster. We played poorly in both,” said McKaigue.
“The Kilcar semi-final, you have seen the advantage of having a two-week break — we were actually able to train.”
That Saturday evening semi-final shootout was right up there with the outstanding club games of recent years.
“Club football, in many ways, has been the saving grace of Gaelic football over the last couple of years, because people have been pretty slow on the inter-county game, because it maybe has been pretty negative.
“This ultra-defensive football has gone with the dodo bird. Defensive football allows you to be competitive for a certain amount of time, but it’s very difficult to actually win anything with it.”
Elsewhere, Down’s Marty Clarke will make his first foray into inter-county management as a selector with the Cavan U20s.
The Connacht club SFC final will be the live game on TG4 this Sunday, with deferred coverage of the Munster final.
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