Cusack: I’m glad I wasn’t professional

Gaelic Players Association chairman Dónal Óg Cusack says his views on professionalism in the GAA have changed, from wanting it as a teenager to believing now that amateurism is ‘more wholesome’.

The former Cork goalkeeper and three-time All-Ireland senior medallist was speaking on the issue at the 2014 Web Summit at the RDS.

His comments come in the wake of suggestions by former All-Ireland winning Offaly manager Eugene McGee players could receive some form of pay in as little as 10 years’ time.

“When I was a younger man, 19, 20, I would have loved to have been paid for playing my game,” said Cusack. But the more I went through the career, and now when I’m looking back, I’m happy I wasn’t a professional. I think it’s actually a more wholesome model that we have in the Association.

“The danger with it for me — and it was interesting to see hear experienced commentators this week in Ireland speaking about the inevitability about the game going professional which I would disagree with — and the concern I would have is you take a young kid form Dublin, Monaghan, Cork or wherever, and you put him into a professional set-up, we all know that the lifespan of professional people is shortening, it’s the same in our games.

“He’d maybe make a full-time salary out of it but then when he gets injured or is finished playing or is no more good to the team he’s playing with, he’s dropped back out of that system and hasn’t had the life experience that the current inter-county player gets.”

The Cloyne club man said another reason he’s against embracing professionalism is that, under that arrangement, a ‘transfer system would have to be looked at and the whole ethos of our game is that our players are totally connected to the communities in which they grew up’.


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