Tuesday 20 August 2019

Martin Breheny: Glynn represents a strand that needs support at a time of increasing inter-county divisions

Rathnew's Leighton Glynn. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Rathnew's Leighton Glynn. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

At one stage in the final quarter of last Sunday's Leinster senior club football semi-final, Leighton Glynn escaped the attentions of his Moorefield minder Mark Dempsey and found himself in space.

Rathnew, four points behind at the time, were working their way out of defence but Glynn wasn't spotted. Instead, the move swung elsewhere, the ball was lost and Moorefield counter-attacked.

Glynn, now joined by Dempsey who spent most of the afternoon so close to him that they might have been handcuffed, raced back to help the defence. A chance for Rathnew to break out was lost because Glynn's brief moment of freedom had not been detected.

It summed up the difference between the sides. Moorefield were slicker as a unit and despite being a man down for the final 23 minutes after Cian O'Connor's dismissal, they won by six points.

At the end, Glynn trudged through the muck to the dressing-rooms, the bright sunshine which smiled on picturesque Aughrim earlier in the day having been replaced by rain, wind and the clingy dreariness of late November.

The defeat ended the season for most of Glynn's colleagues but not for him. He has another big outing next Sunday, this time with the Glenealy hurlers in the Leinster intermediate final against Ballyragget.

At the age of 35, Glynn's dual ambitions continue, driving him on as best as he can for as long as he can.

It's 16 years since he helped Rathnew to Leinster club football success, emphasising a longevity that's encapsulated in the fact that the man specially assigned to him last Sunday was two years old in 2001.

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Dempsey (18) did a good marking job but Glynn still showed some delightful touches, enough to suggest that he will be around for a few more seasons.

Glenealy are long-priced outsiders to beat the Kilkenny champions on Sunday but then it's territory which Glynn has known throughout much of his career, certainly outside the Wicklow championships.

His dual talents and longevity in both codes make him one of the better-known players from the so-called weaker counties but he is only one of many who ply their trade well away from Croke Park, 'Super 8s' and All-Ireland finals.

That may be inevitable in an inter-county structure which is based on a range of imbalances but does it have to be as lop-sided as it is? And will the gap widen even further as the strong get stronger, leaving the rest further behind?

Success feeds off itself, picking up influence as it goes. Normally that wouldn't matter since most sensible people see through it.

However, when it comes to the GAA, success carries a voice that's deemed more important than that of lower-achievers who, in many cases, are restricted by circumstances rather than a lack of talent.

Glynn would have been an outstanding footballer in any county.

If, for instance, he were born in Raheny rather than Rathnew, how much success would he have enjoyed with Dublin?

I mention Raheny for a specific reason. Brian Fenton, its latest star act, recently suggested that students should be financially incentivised to remain at home during the summer rather than travel to America.

"The GAA is not short of money," he said.

Apart from the obvious inconsistency of introducing a pay-for-pay policy for students only, his comment on the GAA's finances is interesting.

Is he aware that Dublin received €1.46 million for games development last year?

Presumably, if students were paid to stay at home for the summer, it would be funded from monies now going to areas like games development.

Mind you, if the GAA wandered into that form of pay-for-play, a reduction in general funding would be the least of their worries.

It doesn't sound like a well-thought proposal by Fenton but it got extensive coverage, purely because it came from a member of the treble All-Ireland champions.

In other words, it's deemed interesting because it comes from a player in a very successful team. Would it have got the same attention if it came from Wicklow, Carlow or Leitrim?

A new trend has developed in recent years where companies use players to promote their businesses by offering them for interview.

The players are paid, the media get interviews, which wouldn't otherwise be available, and the bandwagon rolls on.

In many cases, the interviews are banal to the point of being useless but at the same time, they make money for players and also increase their profiles.

It sounds innocent enough but it helps reinforce the view that only the top players have anything interesting to say, which is most assuredly not the case. Or if they have, they keep it to themselves.

That may appear like a peripheral issue but it points to a certain culture.

The even greater divide between how players from the strong and weaker counties are looked after should be of real concern for the GAA.

They have talked about examining ways of equalising resources between counties so that all players have a chance to be the best they can but nothing has come of it.

Suffice to say, Leighton Glynn or his likes haven't got Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand or Thailand stamped on their passports after enjoying lavish team holidays.

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