In preparation, Lee Chin is a professional but he’s obviously not in pocket. There is the commercial work and, even if it might fall short of a wage, being an inter-county hurler can be quite the savings mechanism.
But the joint Wexford captain does envisage a day when payment will be part of the landscape in elite Gaelic games.
“I think it’s pretty much at the peak of where it can go now as an amateur sport.”
The next step?
“I’m not quite sure but I think you’re talking about a semi-professional status the same as what the League of Ireland is at the moment maybe.
“Some guys play League of Ireland and still have daytime jobs but I don’t know what the next step is going to be but it’s definitely going to change at some point.”
The argument against professionalism is obviously two-fold: It would run against the very being of the GAA, potentially leading to the complete demise of the club game, and, as the GPA discovered in the past, it would be financially infeasible.
But Chin isn’t so sure about that second point. He appreciates it will take time, though, as the demands of playing inter-county grow to unsustainable levels for amateur sportsmen.
“I don’t think you’ll ever get a day where players will say, ‘We’re not playing because the game is not a different level to what I want it to be and I’m fed up of working and fed up of doing this and having to commit to this’.
“Guys are doing what they do because they love doing it and that’s what we pride ourselves on.
“We just love playing for our counties, we love playing our games. But there is the question of when is it going to change or is it going to change?”
He appreciates what damage a move from amateurism could do to clubs but the march towards professionalism is a difficult one to halt.
“You started out with your club and everyone loves playing for your club and it’s one thing that people know would suffer if it ever went down that route and that’s what we’re all scared of.
“The people involved in this modern-day society would see it that way and if the GAA some day did turn professional, it’s the young guys that were born only in 2018 and grew up within the system, the club scene wouldn’t mean that much to them in a number of years time.”
Wexford begin their run of four games in 21 days against Dublin at home tomorrow and Chin knows as a full-time hurler that he might have an edge over others.
“Well I think so. Obviously, I have my life that I live, all that stuff’s not all about hurling or it’s not all about recovery but I do have a lot more time maybe to get the things done (in terms of hurling)
“I still have a life, I still have to do my things to earn money but I probably do have a little bit more time to work with than other guys. But I think it’s about whatever team out there is going to be the most disciplined to get the most recovery throughout those five or six days between games — that’s the team that’s going to be looking like they’ll go somewhere.”
Chin enjoys being able to completely commit himself to hurling but he knows he could go further.
“If you were a professional athlete, it’d be a great experience in the sense that you’re sole focus is on your sport. The kind of stuff like training three times a day and working on the little things you want to work on as a team and as a group.
“I think all that is so appealing. I think anyone that plays sport would love to experience something like that someday, especially with the level we’re at.”
At the age of 25, Chin aims to scalp Dublin for the first time having suffered two Championship losses and one draw.
With that in mind, he’s apprehensive about how much Wexford are fancied.
“I haven’t beaten Dublin since I’ve been with Wexford. To say we’ve moved passed them is... we’ve made improvements through the last couple of years with Davy (Fitzgerald) but the fact we haven’t played Dublin and tested ourselves against them makes it hard to know if we’ve moved passed them.”
Chin might have featured in the 2016 Leinster quarter-final defeat to Dublin but for an administration mistake — Wexford thought they could use AN Other to cover Chin, who was a fitness concern.
“I was injured and it was a a matter of whether I was going to be fit, having a fitness test before the game. I tried to give it as much time as possible. I took part in a session that week and I came through it okay but I didn’t push it too hard. We were going to test it once we got to Croke Park.
“Liam Dunne didn’t know whether to put me on the team-sheet or not. I suppose they thought AN Other was the best way to put it down if I couldn’t play but they didn’t read the the rules, unfortunately. The team-sheet goes in and that’s it.”
“You like to think if you were on the field it wouldn’t have turned out that way. It was frustrating enough sitting in the stand knowing potentially you could have played, not being allowed to play and then to see us beating bet by a cricket score. It was a bad experience.”
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