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09 Dec 14 13:43
Date Joined: 20 May 10
| Topic/replies: 9,152 | Blogger: Rocketfingers's blog
Eamonn Sweeney putting it to the GAA fascists, i believe this is why so many consider him to be the best sports journo out there that he is not afraid to speak the truth.

"The Ireland midfielder wrote a good piece suggesting, among other things, that GAA players would have difficulty adapting to the lifestyle of a professional footballer. This was, in part, a reaction to a typically ludicrous piece of blather by Joe Brolly which stated that as role models for young people, soccer players were far inferior to GAA stars. By comparison, Hunt was measured and intelligent and unlike, for example, Jerry Kiernan in the past, wasn't disrespectful towards GAA players.

However, it's apparent that there are plenty of people out there who regard anything other than 100 per cent hero worship of the GAA and its players as a form of heresy. Which is a bit of an irony considering that they usually feel entitled to bang on about the moral inferiority of soccer at the drop of a hat. So Hunt suffered a lot of witless abuse on the web which continued even after he had the decency to go on RTé radio and explain what was obvious from the get-go anyway, that he wasn't slagging off GAA players but making a point about the difference between the lives of amateur and professional sportsmen.

What was really disappointing was to see past and present inter-county players getting in on the act. Mattie Forde, for example, called Hunt a "wally," and mocked him for playing with Ipswich Town. Considering that Ipswich are currently second in the Championship, we can only deduce that Forde believes playing for Wexford footballers was the equivalent of playing for Manchester United. Or perhaps Barcelona. Mayo wing-back Colm Boyle called Hunt a "clown" while Kilkenny hurling corner-back Paul Murphy and Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin joined in the whinefest.

But the inconvenient truth is that, from a sporting point of view, Stephen Hunt has achieved a great deal more than the people who slagged him off. He is in his 15th year as a professional footballer in a career which saw him play several seasons in the Premier League during which he acquitted himself well.

It's worth pondering exactly what that says about Hunt and his talent. We are talking about a man who went overseas and carved out a career in one of the strongest professional sports leagues in the world. Soccer is the most popular game in England, a country with roughly 10 times the population of Ireland. In fact, anyone who's ever watched a bit of non-league soccer over there will note the amount of really excellent players who didn't make the grade. The pool of talent is deep.

VIDEO: panel discuss Stephen Hunt comments
00:00 / 04:31
Add in the fact that the most talented young footballers in Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands are seeking a living there. And not just them but players from all over Europe and, increasingly, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Making a career in English football is extraordinarily difficult. It's not the same as getting picked for Mayo or Kilkenny or even Wexford.

I love Gaelic football and hurling, the former especially. I've defended it numerous times in this column against the growing band of cynics who suggest the game is going to hell in a handcart and boring the life out of the spectators, Joe Brolly being a prime example. The sad thing is that the players who let rip at Stephen Hunt are admirable sportsmen in their own right.

Yet I suspect that the problem here is what we might term The Forde Delusion, the idea that because the crowds at GAA games are so big, the hurling and football championships are on the same level as the Premier League.

And that's simply not true. How could it be? Major soccer leagues attract the best players from all over the world. Gaelic football and hurling, on the other hand, are played in one small country. By comparison to soccer or rugby or golf or tennis or a hundred other sports, the pool of talent is exceptionally shallow. Which is only as you'd expect in the world's 121st biggest nation.

I don't mean to diminish Gaelic games by noting this, just to put these sports we love into some kind of global context. There are wonderful things about the GAA - the passionate support, the exciting nature of the games, the link between club and county, the strength of the parish structure. But there is no point in pretending that its players are in the same class as professional footballers.

Gaelic footballers and hurlers are amateurs, wonderfully hard-working and dedicated amateurs, but amateurs nonetheless. This may sound obvious but the hordes attacking Stephen Hunt seem to have forgotten that the man inhabits an entirely different sporting universe from the one where GAA stars do their thing.

Personally, I think many top footballers and hurlers would flourish were their games professional. But we'll never know that because the fact of the games being restricted at a serious level to one small island means professionalism probably won't ever happen. GAA players are amateurs, by and large, not because they want to maintain a healthy life/work balance but because there's nobody out there willing to pay them.

There are demands associated with holding down a job and playing a part-time game as well but the demands of professional sport are even higher. The average professional soccer player will play around four times as many matches as a GAA player in a season. And the professional is subject to a pressure the amateur sportsman will never have to cope with, the knowledge that should he perform badly his job is in jeopardy. There are few working environments more ruthless than that of professional football. Of the many talented youngsters who leave this country to try and make it in the pro game, only a handful succeed.

There are some GAA fans and perhaps some players too who labour under the notion that if inter-county players turned to soccer they'd make it in England no bother. But when you look at how few players from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make the big time, the lunacy of the idea that there are hundreds of potential professional footballers knocking around this country is apparent.

That's unless you believe that GAA players are a kind of a master race. Which, I'm afraid to say, probably isn't the case. I know that in the current climate this may be something of a controversial statement.

The advantage someone like Stephen Hunt has is that he knows exactly how good he is because he has been tested by international competition. Whereas the slight lack of reality among certain GAA people about hurling and football's standing results from the fact that the games take place inside something of a bubble. The parochial nature of the Association is its great strength but it can also be a weakness.

It's striking, for example, how many inter-county players live and work pretty close to where they were born. In the circumstances it's easy to develop a somewhat exaggerated sense of your own worth particularly when the likes of me are banging on how about how great you are.

A real top-class sportsman proves it internationally. We wouldn't think as much of Brian O'Driscoll if his biggest test had come in annual jousts against Munster, of Seán Kelly if he'd stayed at home and won a few Rás Tailteanns or Roy Keane if he'd never ventured beyond the League of Ireland. It's not the fault of GAA players that they don't have an international stage to perform on but in its absence describing them as 'world-class' or 'elite', which does happen from time to time, is just waffle.

So is the idea that amateur players can be just as fit and accomplished as professionals. Again this depends on the idea of the GAA as some kind of miracle-working organisation. In reality, the gap between our players and those from Australian rules in terms of conditioning is pretty obvious when they compete. And Australian rules, being a one-nation sport, is hardly in the top bracket internationally.

Gaelic games are wonderful for what they are but there's no point pretending they're in the same ballpark as major professional sports. That pretence just means that when someone like Stephen Hunt introduces a bit of truth into the conversation he's treated like a curly-headed Salman Rushdie. Maybe it's time to grow up a small bit."
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Report padlock December 9, 2014 2:53 PM GMT
"forde delusion" Happy
Report DRAGON DANCER December 9, 2014 6:01 PM GMT
Aaron Rodgers is a joy to watch in American Football, guess he also isn't world class as he doesn't get a chance to prove it internationally Laugh
Report neill d December 9, 2014 6:29 PM GMT
I have great respect for GAA players and would consider Eoin Kelly, JJ Delaney et al as great artisans but Sweeney is 100% correct in everything he wrote there, it is probably one of his best pieces actually as he won't be thanked for it by many.

Brolly isn't the judge I thought he was, or else he doesn't truly belive what he is saying and is just a controversy monger.

Any Irish kid who makes it over there deserves massive respect.
Report SoYouThink December 9, 2014 7:21 PM GMT
What specific points of the article do you particularly agree with Rocketfingers ? Or what point do you think the article actually makes ?
Report Rocketfingers December 9, 2014 10:12 PM GMT
Totally agree, the best piece in the long list of great pieces from Sweeney. Oh and i agree with every single word.
Report SoYouThink December 9, 2014 10:48 PM GMT
You only agree with it Rocketfingers because it's anti-GAA. You're getting tiresome.
Report Rocketfingers December 9, 2014 11:17 PM GMT
No i agree with it because it is correct, It's not actually anti anything, Sweeney is merely stressing that Hunt's point of view is correct and also shows up Brolly's comments which are bitter, and merely jibes in the whole exchange. While you come back with the age old 'you're anti the GAA if you speak ill of it' there SYT, now that is tiresome. You actually can't even point out what is wrong with what Sweeney has written so you attack me instead rather than trying to debate it because you know in your heart and soul he is correct.
Report Kelly December 9, 2014 11:37 PM GMT
The top class GAA players , football and hurling , can hold their own with the players of any sport anywhere on the planet where skill is a factor .  Wouldn't want to compete with the over developed rugby players though for instance ( and there is a story waiting to happen in that regard I suspect , breakfast cereals etc ) .

The fact that someone has played for 15 years for Ipswich Town as a professional is I would suggest a nothing  in sports terms world wise, other than being well paid .

When a certain GAA player , by no means the best ever to pull on the Meath shirt , trained with a Premier league team , they said he was the fittest footballer ( not necessarily soccer ) they had ever seen . The GAA players nowadays are exceptionally well conditioned and trained , that is not to say they are the best players ever , because the skill factor and changing playing modes enter into various equations .

In the heady days of International rules jousts , the amateurs of Ireland matched and beat seasoned Aussie rules professionals  ,  that was going on for 20 years ago and GAA players are even better conditioned these days ( even if skill levels are debatable ) .

Attempts to diss GAA players are foolhardy , no one anywhere in the world plays a physical team  game like hurling with such skill , passion , and commitment .  For nothing  other than love of the game ,club , county etc . Outside of professional hockey possibly , but who wants to watch a game where you cant see the ball .

Not that I watch soccer a lot other than in the course of betting on the result , but a main plank of professional football is to have the ability to kick or trip an opponent and get away with it as a "tackle" . If that is skill , you can have it .  The number of players I see who have the ability to beat an opponent on their own --without involvement of anyone else -- are few and far between .  Those sort of players have been marginalised by current styles of play , the Di Stefanos , Peles , Eusibios , Bests , Charltons , Beckenbauers , Moores , Cruyffs  , Maradonas , have not been replaced by players of equivalent talent or stature regularly in the last 25 years .  The defenders in particular these days are bigger and stronger than they used to be , but so are the rugby players world wide .  But skill levels ? 

Soccer people locally ( Ireland  south and north ) are incredibly jealous of the support that GAA sports attract . Is it not possible that those who vote with their feet , and their cash at the turnstiles , have a message to impart ?  Might they not just be correct in their assessment of the relative worth of the sports available to them ?

Instead of knocking the GAA the soccer people locally in particular should concentrate on righting their own sport .  It is organised top down from the crumbs falling from a near neighbours table , no decent Irish player south or north wants to play in their own country , and eventually there will be no supply or interest other than what is happening across the water .  The make up of the top English clubs nowadays is such that there are fewer and fewer locals playing at the top level , England are a very average side  , no English player is in the top 25 in the world  , only player I see with outstanding talent is Bale .

Ireland are quite rightly ranked as third best rugby nation in world at present , rightly so and we can all be proud of their efforts . How many of them would be capable ( or interested ) in turning out for a Premier league team , ( apart from the ridiculous TV driven money ). That does not make them inferior athletes or sportsmen , just different animals in a different sport . Some prominent GAA players I know personally trained alongside rugby internationals a while back , they beat the sh*t out of them in almost every discipline . Both  of those sports have moved on condition wise since -- but not necessarily at skill level .
Report Rocketfingers December 9, 2014 11:56 PM GMT
Kelly don't even insult hurling players mentioning them with gaelic footballers when it comes to skill. There is old wifes tales about Graham Geraghty, it was never said in public by the prem club in question but you are welcomed to prove me wrong reminds me of stuff coming out of North Korea. We already seen when the International rules team played the Aussies recently they were not able to live with them despite the hybrid game being overwhelmingly tailored to suit them, so on this basis how can people argue Hunt or Sweeney are nto correct with what they're saying !?
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 12:05 AM GMT
Anyone mentioning North Korea has already lost the argument Rocketfingers .
Report kingrat December 10, 2014 12:07 AM GMT
ah,brolly is a piss take artist.he wound up hunt and sucked in sweeney.he's too smart for ther ilk.believe me,he's laughing his bollix off at them.job done!
   a little bollix but he was 1 hell of a footballer,pace to burn.
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 12:16 AM GMT
My friend Kelly, what argument? You don't have one come back when you do though Wink
Report freddiek December 10, 2014 12:36 AM GMT
this fella sweeney is an elite-level gobshyte. just like rocket!
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 12:36 AM GMT
Looking again at the opening post , there is a reference to Roy Keane .  Assuming Keanes residual talent remained intact and at a comparable level with his displays on the soccer field world wide  , how would he have fared playing GAA for Cork ?  Would he have been in the top 3 GAA players of the last 30 years ? Very much doubt it . And he presumably was way superior to Hunt as a soccer player . 

That sort of argument is on the road to a reductio ad absurdum , but it is a valid question . Saying that GAA players would not be able to cope with the demands of top class soccer in England is an opinion , nothing else .  Different sports require different skills and disciplines  , comparing them is difficult and leaves the author of such assertions in very muddy water .

The most iconic sportsman in American history is arguably Babe Ruth  , who peaked in the 1930's . No one in his sport has got near his stature , even Ty Cobb . Babe couldn't have got on a soccer pitch , would't have wanted too . Does that prove that soccer players are superior athletes ? All it helps to show is that soccer is a specific sport , suited to specific players ( including players like Messi who wouldn't even attempt to play GAA , dont think I ever saw a top class GAA player under 5 foot 8 inches  , 5 foot 4's need not apply ) .  Soccer is a game played essentially on the ground , GAA games are not . Drawing comparisons other than physical tests divorced from the particular skills of each sport are largely futile .
Report applehunter December 10, 2014 12:42 AM GMT
Once upon a time there was a hurler/footballer from Wexford. He played both with pride for club and county but also loved his game of soccer. But, there was no club from where he lived. Didn't it come up in conversation one evening down the local. "sure why don't we set up a club?" With the good backing of the 2 local pubs in the village a new soccer club was set up with the pitch in a farmers field.

The local hurling club treated the new club with total disdain, non cooperation with fixtures, lack of consultation on local issues etc. Turns out that some of the players were interested in playing the game and sure enough didn't the soccer club make successive promotions to the point where they were in the top division in Wexford soccer.

It so happened that the same player was involved with his local club in the soccer cup final on the Saturday on the day before the county final in hurling. The game of soccer was played and the player turned up on the Sunday for the hurling which unfortunately they lost by a point. The winning point in no way was his fault but when the weekly newspaper came out the following Tuesday with himself  in a team photo before the soccer game word went around.

A 6 month ban was issued.

Queue 6 months later didn't it happen on the day the ban was to be lifted Wexford were playing in an early season league game and the county were looking for out for our friend to tog out as the regular starter had got injured. 4 times they came to his house almost demanding that he should line out for his county. He vowed that he would never play for hurling for Wexford again. On the fourth day he let the dog loose on them.
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 12:51 AM GMT
Kingrat , Brolly was a very skilful footballer , pace to burn , never jumped for a ball in his life ( his own words once upon an evening) . Without Tohill and co powering forward from mid field , over running opposition half backs and giving him the ball on a plate he would not be remembered unduly . Joe knows that himself .

Joe has always been a ball hopper , my wifes nephew shared a room with him in grammar school ( boarding) . He does know football , but sometimes his views are not mainstream with a lot of GAA followers  , particularly in the expression .
Report applehunter December 10, 2014 12:59 AM GMT
Remember Brolly was on with Bernard Flynn before the start of the World Cup on RTE radio in the summer with Des Cahill and they were switching discussion from that days GAA to the World cup that was to begin the following week.

Des asked would they be watching any of the soccer and the way they dismissed soccer came across as very bitter "I'd close the curtains if it was play in my back garden" It really showed them up when there was no dissenting voice there.

On the same programme Flynn talked about how he would sit up every Sunday evening glued to Sky watching the golf from America.
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 1:00 AM GMT
Ah Brilliant story AH, hopefully it was a pitbull.

Kelly sorry but all you are doing there is proving Kelly's point, that i pure waffle you're talking knowing what babe ruth thought Laugh, you have no argument as i have stated above, The GAA players were not able to stand up to the Aussies who were playing in a match after a really tough season and were found out for fitness, so i think and again they're nothing like professional athletes which when you think of it proves Hunt's whole point. Now please Kelly please think about your reply next time.
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 1:08 AM GMT
Rocketfingers , the skill levels in hurling and football are completely different . Some players have played both games to a high skill and performance level , but duality brings a huge number of other factors into account .

I doubt if any players of any sport anywhere else in the world could play hurling at top class level without an enormous effort . Hurling is basically a cradle sport , those outside of a relatively few counties need not apply . We have tried manfully in Down to develope hurling for nigh on the last 50 years , to no avail . One All -Ireland final appearance I think . 5 comfortable enough All- Ireland football wins , same player pool / potential for football and hurling , its not in us the hurling other than down the Ards a bit . Players for courses .
Report freddiek December 10, 2014 1:15 AM GMT
the Irish players have regularly beaten the Aussies throughout the lifetime of the series.
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 1:18 AM GMT
We have beaten them but never when the Aussies sent senior players.
Report applehunter December 10, 2014 1:25 AM GMT
Remember Barry Hall and a few of the top guys came out to play and gave the Irish lads a walloping and then we had to hear the pathetic bitching of Sean Boylan crying foul over the treatment his poor amateur boys had gotten from the Aussies.

The irony considering the team he managed in the 80s.
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 1:29 AM GMT
Ireland vs Aussies in International rules has proved that GAA players are up to the mark . As freddiek says over the years the figures prove it . And bear in mind it is amateurs versus pros . In physical terms while we seldom would claim superiority over the Aussies , in terms of being footballers in the wider sense of the word , we have always been way superior , and I suspect if the same teams played out a soccer series we would have stuffed them every time .

Cant decipher some of your sentences Rocket , particuarly ref Babe Ruth , I certainly would never disregard a proud sporting nations opinion on one of their sporting icons .
Report kingrat December 10, 2014 2:06 PM GMT
does any1 here remember the ban.i was told  some funny stories from old stalwarts down the old boy told me that he played in a county championship game on a sunday which they won.the other club put in an objection because he played(under an alias) in a soccer game the previous day.
   at the time it caused alot of consternation and split the club right down the middle when he got a ban of 6 mts.
Report SoYouThink December 10, 2014 5:32 PM GMT
Not hard to spot the Mayo man on this thread. Probably has a bit of Louth or Tyrone blood him too. Sean Boylan is one of the greats of GAA - not many would have bad words to say, only the bitter.

Rocketfingers - would you clarify your argument please. All you have really said is that you agree with Hunt and Sweeney's article. What specifically do you agree with?

From my understanding, Hunt basically said GAA players couldn't hack the lifestyle of a Premier League player. He later moved to clarify that it was the "rest" aspect he was referring to when he said lifestyle. "Rest" is obviously difficult when you're amateur. To be honest I find it difficult to understand what point he was making at all.
Report SoYouThink December 10, 2014 5:37 PM GMT
Can you also clarify what you mean by "skill levels"'s such a lazy term and refers to nothing at all. Flesh out your argument a bit there Rocketfingers .... I'm sure you can manage more than your usual sentence or two?
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 5:44 PM GMT
You need to go and read what he said, you obviously have not, now that my friend is a very lazy attitude to display.
Report SoYouThink December 10, 2014 5:48 PM GMT
What's your argument Rocketfingers. State the point you wish to make and we'll debate it.
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 5:51 PM GMT
My Point is the same as Sweeney's, could you not tell from my opening post? Confused
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 5:58 PM GMT
The ban was rooted in the myriad history of this islend , and  had some substantive arguments in its favour at certain points in time .  However post war it was out of date and I cant honestly say I ever met anyone who agreed with it completely .  Most ignored it , I certainly did reference attendance at non GAA sports even if I was not guilty of playing the "banned" sports .

One of my friends played rugby while at UNI , under an assumed name of course , mothers maiden names are useful sometimes . 3 All -Ireland medals .

The fact that very few non catholic people play or participate in GAA sports / affairs is often ignored in passing . Far more of us play and participate in "foreign " games  , crossing the "bridge" so to speak than come across the bridge to embrace our GAA sports . Criticising the GAA is fashionable in certain circles , personally I think the GAA does a brilliant job in providing facilites and infra structure nationally all over this island , for virtually zero cost to the country .  Everywhere I drive in Ireland I see excellent GAA gounds in small hamlets and towns , I dont see equivalent facilities in most other sports . Give the GAA credit for what they have achieved and for what they are giving to the community .
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 6:10 PM GMT
I hope SYT has gone and read up on this subject rather than asking me to explain all to him. Kelly stop waffling btw.
Report GANT007 December 10, 2014 6:11 PM GMT
It's a copy and paste job from Eamonn Sweeney.

Same type of article was written about the World Series Baseball, American Football players and one about James Hurd, Aussie Rules player. National Sports v Global .

Stephen Hunt is a GAA man and was speaking about young Irish players going over to play soccer imo.
Report Kelly December 10, 2014 6:29 PM GMT
It might be relevant to point out to you rocketfingers that other people have posted on here re this thread .  My comments are not exclusively directed at you , rocketfingers , your mindset is obvious and extremely biassed .  I like all sport and appreciate the efforts of many organisations as well as the GAA .  Targetting GAA players as inferior somehow to soccer players is bananas .  Most GAA footballers can play soccer  , very few soccer players can play GAA football ( or hurling ) .  Soccer is basically a very easy game , hence its appeal world wide .
Report Rocketfingers December 10, 2014 7:04 PM GMT
Gant can you get this article you seem to know so well and show up Sweeney? I would be impressed if you were not telling some fibs for once.
Report kincsem December 12, 2014 4:03 PM GMT
If GAA players are so good there is £100,000 a week waiting for them.  They could do it for a year or two just to prove a point.
Report kincsem December 12, 2014 4:06 PM GMT
Soccer is basically a very easy game , hence its appeal world wide.

Report Ozymandius December 12, 2014 7:10 PM GMT
Excellent article, fully agree with the sentiment expressed.
Report richters December 14, 2014 4:46 PM GMT
you would know a lot about the gaa ozy or spastic fingers for that matter either,
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