Friday 9 December 2016

Fenway Classic could be expanded into tournament format, says GPA chief Dessie Farrell

Published 27/11/2015 | 02:30

Players from Dublin and Galway tussle during the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic at Fenway Park yesterday
Players from Dublin and Galway tussle during the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic at Fenway Park yesterday

GPA chief Dessie Farrell has hit back at detractors of last weekend's Super 11s clash in Boston claiming the event was a "great success" and pointed out that the trip didn't cost the GAA or GPA anything.

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The game between Galway and Dublin came in for some high-profile criticism on this side of the Atlantic with the likes of Laois hurling manager Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett suggesting that enough work wasn't being done here to grow the game in certain counties.

But Farrell insisted the GPA are active in that regard.

"We do a lot for weaker hurling counties here," he said at the announcement that five county players were scholarships for the DCU Business School MBA.

It's difficult not to be suspicious that players were happy to parade an exaggerated version of handbags at dawn. (Stock Photo)
It's difficult not to be suspicious that players were happy to parade an exaggerated version of handbags at dawn. (Stock Photo)

"Donal O'Grady this year chaired a work group for us to review what's happening in non-traditional counties.

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"And he already has made several recommendations, and many of those were introduced throughout the course of the year.

"We'll be finalising a report with comprehensive recommendations, and will submit that to the GAA in early December.

Monaghan’s Shane Carey is one of five county players who will receive scholarships in this year’s GPA DCU Business School Masters Scholarship Programme
Monaghan’s Shane Carey is one of five county players who will receive scholarships in this year’s GPA DCU Business School Masters Scholarship Programme

"We do an awful lot of work on that basis. I think many of the players who operate at that level will recognise that fact as well."

Farrell went on to claim that the exhibition game in Fenway does much more to promote the GAA abroad than the All-Star games.

"If we want to grow the games to international audiences, we have to think differently about our approach to date.

"Typically, it has been All-Stars tours and, in my opinion, those games do a disservice to the GAA, as an organisation, and to Gaelic games as a whole," he continued.

22 November 2015; Dublin hurlers, from left, David O'Callaghan, Chris Crummey, Niall McMorrow, Shane Barrett and Fionn McGibb pose for a photograph ahead of the game. AIG Fenway Hurling Classic, Dublin v Galway. Fenway Park, Boston, MA, USA. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
22 November 2015; Dublin hurlers, from left, David O'Callaghan, Chris Crummey, Niall McMorrow, Shane Barrett and Fionn McGibb pose for a photograph ahead of the game. AIG Fenway Hurling Classic, Dublin v Galway. Fenway Park, Boston, MA, USA. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

"Without doubt, there are opportunities in the US and I think what we're trying to tap into is the goodwill, the interest and the passion for sport amongst a significant Irish-American audience in the US."

It seems increasingly likely that no suspensions will arise from the fracas that flared up between the sides while Farrell also believes the game could become an annual event after its positive reception on Stateside.

"Being honest, our audience was in the US and it was met with overwhelming support and massive interest, broadcast and live TV over there.

"Some of the major publications took up the story and it was all hugely positive.

"Ultimately, that's our audience, that's why we brought the game there in the first place, to impact on that particular audience and I think we did that."

And he hinted that the series could even be expanded to a tournament format.

"That's definitely a possibility. And you know everyone will have different views as to what that might look like.

"When we brought it to Notre Dame a few years ago, it was under the interprovincial model, Railway Cup basis. And that worked well as well. This time around, we took two teams over and that worked.

"There is scope to do a number of different things and it is just a case of getting the relevant parties around the table and thrash out what the best way forward

"We obviously see great potential in it. It's where we go with it now is the question. I think obviously the people in Fenway would be keen to have it back.

"But I think what would be important, at this stage, is that we start to develop a strategy for what we can do in the US with Super 11s in those type of venues," he said.

"And how that might impact on the GPA agenda out there, which is obviously to develop a support network to support our programmes back home, and obviously how it impacts on the GAA on the ground in the US.

"There was no cost to the GAA or GPA in relation to this event, nor to the county boards. No cost whatsoever.

"Any future business arrangements will obviously be looked at but I think what this one was all about was proof of concept."

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Irish Independent

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