Ex-Dublin senior football performance coach Fergus Connolly reckons the Super 8 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final stages will be a detriment to Irish society.
The Monaghan man worked with Jim Gavin’s senior set-up for a season-and-a-half before he moved to the US where he is now director of performance with the University of Michigan’s American football programme.
Because of the GAA’s indelible link with Irish culture make-up, Connolly is perturbed by the elitist nature of the round-robin addition to this year’s championship, which will see each of the final eight teams play three matches.
“Gaelic games is such a special sport culturally and (in) society for this country,” he told Off The Ball AM.
“It needs to be protected as such. This idea of a Super 8, this elitism, will be to the detriment of Irish society. The GAA is part of the fabric of this society. It is not and should not be an elite sport.”
American football, argues Connolly, should not be an example for the GAA to follow.
The Scotstown native, who is quite critical of the GPA, said: “Gaelic games are unique. There is nowhere else in the world that has a sport like that.
“I spoke to the AFL coaches’ association a couple of years ago and I stressed upon them the importance of the sport for society and for culture.
"It’s not a business in this country. What we have is very different (to anywhere else) and we often look abroad as that being the aspiration when it’s not. It’s not really what we should be looking at.”
Last year, Connolly declared Mayo wouldn’t win an All-Ireland SFC title in his lifetime but he is now more conciliatory in his attitude to the runners-up the last two seasons. However, he intimated they need to take a leaf out of Dublin’s book in terms of humility.
“In order to win, in order to be successful, you have to have that humility. You have to be respectful of your opponent and, as a team, you have to look after your own team-mates and give credit to the group as a whole.
"When you have those two things then you build upon that and you can have success.”
Connolly maintains that Mayo players can be savvier in terms of what they reveal in interviews.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to win. In 10 or 15 years’ time when people look back on the history of success, there will be the names on the trophy. It won’t be about who has done interviews or whatever.”
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