Friday 2 December 2016

GAA's sacred amateur status at odds with rising professionalism

Published 14/06/2014 | 02:30

Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin is filmed by Sky Sports ahead of last week's Leinster SHC quarter-final against Offaly at Nowlan Park. Sky's arrival has again opened up the debate about the amateur ethos at the heart of the association. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin is filmed by Sky Sports ahead of last week's Leinster SHC quarter-final against Offaly at Nowlan Park. Sky's arrival has again opened up the debate about the amateur ethos at the heart of the association. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

On Wednesday, an interview at Royal Dublin with Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is prefaced by an unexpected question.

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"Well, what's your take on Sky and the GAA?" he asks, catching me off guard. I've just spent the morning 'cramming' on all things golf and Samuel Ryder and the man set to be at the epicentre of that trans-Atlantic shoot-out at Gleneagles in September wants to talk local.

Turns out our philosophies differ too. Living in Sunningdale, McGinley has been tickled by the number of English neighbours telling him they tuned into last Saturday night's broadcast from Nowlan Park. For all the gilded privilege of his day-to-day existence, he's still a devout GAA man. Son of a Donegal footballer and a more than decent player himself until a shattered knee-cap ended his Dublin dreams at just 19.

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