Monday 19 February 2018

Devenney's future in balance

Inspirational Donegal forward makes plea that GPA's demand for weekly allowance is met.

Inspirational Donegal forward makes plea that GPA's demand for weekly allowance is met

BRENDAN DEVENNEY was last night named in the Donegal team for their Ulster SFC against Cavan at Breffni Park on Sunday, but his future with the county could depend on the outcome of the match.

The 26-year-old Letterkenny clubman has given a commitment to play with Donegal through this summer's championship but has indicated that he will consider signing a full-time contract to play soccer with Finn Harps if certain issues relating to the GPA are not sorted out by the end of the summer.

Devenney was part of a debate on Marian Finucane's radio show yesterday to discuss the GPA's request to the GAA for ?127 a-week to defray loss of earning opportunities due to their commitment in playing for their counties, a matter which will be discussed when the two sides meet on Monday week.

Devenney made it known that ?127 a-week would be an awful lot less than Finn Harps would pay him to play soccer and while he loves to play Gaelic football and don the Donegal jersey he believes that the GPA's stance on this issue is fully justified.

Full-forward Devenney, who will start in his fifth successive championship campaign on Sunday, believes that GPA's ?127 weekly allowance demand is small fry considering the big profits which the GAA is making from gate receipts, sponsorships and television rights.

GPA chairman Dessie Farrell was in the RTE studios in Dublin while Players' Committee chairman Jarlath Burns spoke on the RTE Radio 1 programme from Newry.

GPA secretary Glenn Ryan was also on the line from Kildare to support his chairman but the GAA declined an invitation to send a spokesman from Croke Park.

During the debate, Farrell said that on All-Ireland final day the only people who do not get any payment are the players.

"Everyone else gets paid, from the stewards, to the gate people, security, the bar staff and even programme sellers," he said.

"We are not advocating 'Play for Pay' or anything like it but simply a recognition for the work we do and the large amounts of money we generate. Without the players the GAA would not make a penny."

Both Farrell and Burns held their ground on the controversial issue of payments to players which will get its next major outing when the GPA meet senior GAA officials, including president Seán McCague and Director-General Liam Mulvihill on Monday week.

"We would hope that the GAA would come to the table with an open mind because that's the only way to do business," said Farrell.

Burns urged the GPA to work from the bottom up if they want to change the rules regarding amateurism but warned that a weekly payment would signal the end of an era and would lead to a drop off in voluntary work by thousands of GAA members.

Devenney has been playing soccer with Finn Harps on a regular basis since he returned from his successful trip to Australia with the Irish International Rules team when he was the top-scorer, but has performed a balancing act by lining out with Donegal when he was free to do so during the National League.

"The GAA will not take any notice of the players until we do something ourselves," said Devenney, who made a sensational debut for Donegal against Cork in the NFL quarter-final at Croke Park in March '98 by scoring 2-2.

He openly admits that all his family ties are with the St Eunan's club and Donegal but since he is getting married in October and building a house at present he feels that he has to consider his future and Finn Harps are very keen for him to play full-time.

Devenney does not want to turn his back on Donegal and after scoring 3-8 in a recent challenge game against Roscommon he is obviously in top form and the Cavan defence will need to be at their sharpest to keep him at bay as the visitors attempt to win their first championship game since '98.

Donegal will have two newcomers in action at this level as wing-back, Kevin Cassidy (Gweedore) and John Harron (St Eunan's) will make their championship debuts, while the team is strengthened by the return of Jim McGuinness to the attack.

Damien Diver was not considered as he is suffering from a chest infection.

Cavan have their own problems and their selectors have left both half-forward positions vacant and are unlikely to fill them until both Finbar O'Reilly and Mickey Graham have fitness tests on Sunday morning.

Graham is nursing a back injury which he carried into the recent League final where Mattie Kerrigan's side lost heavily to a Peter Canavan inspired Tyrone. O'Reilly, scorer of five points from frees in that game, has a hamstring injury.

While the absence of one of these players would be a blow, the absence of both would be a potential disaster, especially as long-serving midfielder Dermot McCabe has yet to return as he is continuing to battle to regain top fitness.

Otherwise, Cavan have named the remaining 13 who lined out against Tyrone with one minor switch which sees Paul Galligan move to corner-forward.

Corner-backs, Eamonn Reilly and Colm Hannon will be starting their first championship games.

Meanwhile, a reference to Louth fixtures in yesterday's 'County Call' was incorrect. Tomorrow's games in Divisions 1-3 of the Louth All-County League are off but next Wednesday's round will go ahead, including inter-county players, unless Sunday's replay with Longford finishes in a draw again.

CAVAN (SF v Donegal) A Donohoe; E Reilly, T Prior, C Hannon; M Brides, A Forde, J Doonan; P McKenna, C Collins; AN Other, P Reilly, AN Other; L Reilly, J Reilly, P Galligan.

DONEGAL T Blake; S Carr, M Crossan, N McGinley; R Sweeney, B Monaghan, K Cassidy; J Gildea, P McGonigle; J Harron, M Hegarty, J McGuinness; A Sweeney, B Devenney, B Roper.

OFFALY (MH v Westmeath) E Coughlan; A Horan, P Cleary, D Conroy; M Corrigan, A Middleton, K Bermingham; J Brady, D Egan; E Bevans, C Egan, S Delaney; M Dwane, T Bennett, G O'Grady.

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