Monday 19 August 2019

'The GAA is not short of money' - Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton backs pay for play scheme

Brian Fenton of Dublin during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match between Donegal and Dublin at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Brian Fenton of Dublin during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match between Donegal and Dublin at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton has backed the idea of a 'pay for play' scheme to keep young players in Ireland instead of heading to the United States for the summer.

Every summer hundreds of GAA players leave Ireland for the United States and Fenton believes that a pay for play scheme could incentivise some of those players to stay in Ireland instead.

“Young players could be paid a fee per game to encourage them to stay at home instead of heading off to the States during the summer," Fenton told the Irish News.

“When a county is knocked out of the Championship early many players head off but, if they were to get a fee for playing on at home, it would, I believe, encourage many to remain.

“The GAA is not short of money.”

Many players that head to America look for summer jobs, however, due to the heavy commitments that an intercounty player endures during the football season, end of season trips such as the International Rules Series can be difficult to entertain for some players.

Ireland International Rules manager Joe Kernan said that he doesn't believe that there was any policy to keep Dublin players from taking part in this year's International Rules series in Australia but that most players could not get the necessary time off to commit to the series due to work commitments or pre-planned holidays.

"I actually spoke to a number of Dublin players earlier in the week and they have holiday plans and work commitments," Kernan told Newstalk Breakfast last month.

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"All those Dublin players, people have got to understand the sacrifices they've made over the past three years. Unfortunately this time year, club football takes over, especially for successful counties like Mayo and Dublin.

"We trained five Friday nights in a row and they have club matches on Saturdays. We had to work with the players we had.

"Some of the players who could make it couldn't go because they had work commitments given their sacrifices over the year. They couldn't get time off work.

"Some of them were very disappointed. They'd loved to have gone but it just wasn't possible. At this time of year the club comes first."

Fenton was invited to partake in the series but he couldn't commit after starting a new job.

“I recently took up a new job and I felt that I couldn't take three weeks off work," said Fenton.

"It was a great honour to be asked to represent Ireland but I just couldn't respond, this time. I hope I get the offer again.

“Some of the other players have championship matches – some hurling and some football. I also have a league promotion match this weekend with my club."

With regards to players moving permanently to Australia to pursue a career in the AFL, Fenton said that playing in the AFL would be an enticing prospect for some GAA players but that he would not want to change the association's amateur ethos.

“Any day that a GAA player can test himself against the professionals is good.

“Living in the sunshine and getting paid for playing is a big attraction.

“But I don't think that all that many GAA players would take up the offer.

“There was a lot said about the possibility of David Clifford (Kerry minor star) joining up but he has ended that prospect.

“In Ireland, it is an amateur game and we play it for the love of it, but it doesn't put bread on the table and we have to work to do that.

“Playing and training in the sunshine and getting paid for it is an attraction to some but not to me.

“I love the culture of the GAA and the voluntarism so I wouldn't change that.”

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