Friday 24 March 2017

GAA happy to make the strong stronger and the weak weaker - Glynn

Leighton Glynn. Photo: Sportsfile
Leighton Glynn. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

As Leighton Glynn watches the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished continue to widen at inter-county level, there's little regret that his days with Wicklow are in the rear-view mirror.

Having foraged with the Garden County in the lower tiers for over a decade, mixing football and hurling where possible, Glynn (34) is appalled by the recent Super 8 development, believing it to be "a kick in the teeth".

The former International Rules player maintains that weaker counties operating in Divisions 3 and 4 have no chance of repeating the heroics of Wexford (2008) and Tipperary (2016), who caused shocks en route to the last four.

"Weaker counties haven't a hope with the new system really, you're not going to catch three teams on the hop in the quarter-finals. They might as well go the route of having a senior, intermediate and junior championship," he said.

"It's pointless what they're doing now. There's no point in Division 4 teams competing in the All-Ireland championships because they haven't a hope really. . . whatever hope they had before this they don't have any hope now.

"It's more a corporate thing where they (GAA chiefs) are thinking 'sure we'll have more games at the quarter-final stage and make another two or three million'.

"I always hear 'we'll pump it back into the games development side of things'. I worked in games development and it's not pumped back into games development as they would have you believe. It doesn't work like that.

"There's doom and gloom about it which is unfortunate because it doesn't have to be that way."

Glynn, who works as a business development manager with Wicklow hurling sponsors WH Scott and Sons Engineers, can't understand why the GAA refuses to change with the times, acknowledge the problem that exists with "50pc of inter-county players disillusioned' and develop feasible solutions.

He cites the example of Australian Rules and American Football when outlining suggestions to level the playing field, including the idea of full-time employment of coaches from football's elite coaches in struggling counties.

"We should have a structure where you make the weaker counties stronger and help them catch up with the stronger counties. It just needs a total review," he said.

"That's the way it was in the AFL when Greater Western Sydney were founded. They were given the strongest picks, the best transfers from top clubs and they're competing straight away after two years, it's just fairness and equality to the whole thing.

"Any other type of sporting organisation, like the NFL, it's all geared towards making it a level playing field.

"The lowest-ranked team will have the top draft pick; that's saying 'we'll make you better' straight away, whereas here it's just 'we'll keep you down and we're happy enough to make the strong stronger and the weak weaker'.

"Why can't we pick more top-level coaches from Tyrone, Dublin and Kerry and employ them in Wicklow for two years? What's going to happen to Tyrone if two or three coaches leave? Nothing, because there's two or three more to step in.

"We could learn about how their structures work and it would be something outside the box, not just the same rhetoric of 'ye are Division 4 so just plough on'. It's getting harder to attract top-calibre lads to counties like Wicklow because of our status.

"Why not employ a top-level coach, pay them good money to do a good job, instead of paying lads just out of college and putting them on six-month placements - they can't affect a county that's struggling for so long, they haven't the experience to do that."

Despite weekly calls to make an inter-county comeback, Glynn is content with his decision and isn't for turning as he feels enjoyment is leaving the game, particularly in struggling counties, and he has no qualms with players opting out "because there's nothing at the end of it really".

Commitment

"The whole landscape of an inter-county footballer has changed, it's the norm to train four or five times a week, it's the norm to give that commitment, and for a Wicklow player who's playing in Division 4 with little hope of getting to a Leinster final, you can understand why a young fella would go to America for the summer," he said.

"It's more attractive than a couple of heavy beatings in the Championship and training four or five nights a week for eight months for the pleasure of that."

Returning to club duty with Glenealy (hurling) and Rathnew (football), where he has amassed a remarkable honours list, helped Glynn appreciate the challenges facing club players.

"The seriousness has nearly gone overboard with some clubs; it was always serious but you could enjoy it," he said. "And it's only when you go back to the club that you realise 'Jaysus the lads have had it hard' in terms of games.

"We've had nine-week gaps between games and then you could play four or five matches in a row. We've had replayed county finals on the Saturday and then Leinster the following day.

"Don't tell me 12 months isn't enough to get two calendars organised."

Irish Independent

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