GAA stars have reacted angrily to assertions made by former Irish athlete Jerry Kiernan that GAA players don’t train hard enough to receive grants.
Kiernan, who is a regular contributor to RTE’s athletics coverage, caused a major stir when he made the comments last night on Newstalk’s Off The Ball show.
It was announced yesterday that the Irish Sports Council and the GAA were renewing their agreement for the next two years meaning €900,000 will be made available for inter-county players to receive payments of around €400-per-year.
“I think that the GAA are the richest sporting organisation in the country and should be well able to look after themselves,” said Kiernan, who represented Ireland in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics.
“An athlete I coach, Joe Sweeney, training 120 mile-a-week for the last six months, ran a 30km road race in Holland last weekend and won the race. There was no mention of it on the national airwaves.
“We’re giving so much prominence to a sport that I feel doesn’t deserve it.”
Whatever about his feeling on the sport, Kiernan also called into question the commitment of GAA players.
“I don’t have a high opinion of their fitness or their commitment to fitness. I understand that it means an awful lot to people in the country and from an economic point of view when you’ve got thousands of people going to the games it means a lot to the country,” he added.
“If this money, and it’s only a small amount, wasn’t given to them, would it dilute the attendances at the championships? I don’t think so.”
I believe that the GAA people live in a cloistered world, don’t think beyond what they do and they tell themselves that they’re training hard.
“I always notice as well when they’re commenting on things they often talk about the sacrifices they make. You’ll never hear that among athletes, boxers, swimmers or people who do international running.”
“If there is a finite amount of money involved I would only give it to people who are competing internationally.”
A lot of the country’s inter-county stars took to social media networks to voice their disapproval of Kiernan’s beliefs.
“Maybe Jerry Kiernan should spend a week as an inter county GAA player, might change his views on whether we deserve our grants or not,” Kildare star Emmett Bolton tweeted.
Meath’s Seamus Kenny also on twitter, wrote: “Jerry Kiernan has managed to insult every GAA player in Ireland.”
Former Kerry midfielder Michael Quirke wrote: “Jerry Kiernan has some cheek criticising GAA player grant scheme. & even greater arrogance implying they don't train hard enough to earn it.”