More needs to be done for the minnows - Micko
The GAA should place former Gaelic footballers from strong counties as development coaches in weaker counties, in order to bridge the deepening two-tier divide, GAA legend Mick O'Dwyer has warned.
The 81-year-old Kerry dynamo, who was directly involved in 21 senior All-Ireland football finals as a player and manager, said amalgamation and the AFL are the biggest threats facing the game.
Micko cautioned that unless more funding is pumped into vulnerable counties with small populations and tight budgets, they "won't have a hope".
"The GAA are not putting enough coaches into the weaker counties, they are spending fortunes in Dublin on coaching and you go down to the weaker counties and they are only spending the minimum amount. What you need to do there is put more ex-players from the stronger counties in the weaker counties to coach and train kids," he said.
"Otherwise they will just remain the way they are. The weak counties will always be able to field teams, but they will be in different leagues. What we're heading towards now is like the Premiership in England; you're going to have eight to 10 teams up there on the top and the rest struggling," he said.
The Waterville native says depopulation is having a huge impact on remote rural clubs - including his own local club where he trained until he was 45.
"There are about 10 of our team living out of Waterville at the moment - they are in Cork, Dublin and Limerick. They come home every weekend to play, but it will just take another four or five years and those fellas will be gone, where will we be then? We won't have any young people to play the game and there will be amalgamations, I am sorry to say. It is a big worry, the employment is not there in the rural areas anymore," he said.
He also warned that the lure of a pro football career in Australia will become more tempting.
"My greatest fear is that the best players that are coming up are being taken by the Australians, they are the people I'd be more worried about. If players want to play professionally they go to Australia and it is a great opportunity for young fellas because they have a chance to go to college and play a professional game. But it is a threat."
O'Dwyer also criticised the level of hand passing that has crept into Gaelic football.
"The hand pass is gone out of order altogether. I was counting watching a county game and there was 35 passes before the ball was kicked - it was crazy stuff. There should be two passes and then they have to play it," he said.
As for this year's senior football championship, Micko is delighted to see Kildare "coming again".
"Kildare and Galway are really impressing me at the moment and Tyrone are on the way back too. So it will be an interesting year.
"Kerry will always be there. An amazing county, year after year after year, I was thrilled to see them beating Dublin. Beating Dublin and beating Cork is any Kerryman's dream.
"Dublin seem to be the form team this year, but you never know, it can be touch and go," he added.
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