Tuesday 17 September 2019

'You couldn't pay me now to watch a football game'

Moyna steps away from Sigerson management and admits he's disgruntled at direction game has gone

DCU’s Professor Niall Moyna at yesterday’s launch of learning portal LCPE.ie, which supports the introduction of Physical Education in the Leaving Cert. Photo: Sportsfile
DCU’s Professor Niall Moyna at yesterday’s launch of learning portal LCPE.ie, which supports the introduction of Physical Education in the Leaving Cert. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Niall Moyna has confirmed he will not be part of DCU's Sigerson Cup football management for the first time in 18 years after "falling out of love" with Gaelic football.

That and the unavailability of players to the university team because of inter-county consumption has convinced him to step away.

The professor, who heads DCU's department of health and human performance and was part of Pat Gilroy's 2011 Dublin management team that made the breakthrough to win the first All-Ireland title for the capital in 16 years, has reiterated his view that the GAA as an Association has "lost the run of itself" with the scale of the inter-county game.

He was speaking at the launch of the GAA's innovative online learning portal 'LCPE' which supports physical education as a new Leaving Cert course at higher and ordinary level.

"The death knell is on its way," he predicted. "This is my first year out of Sigerson. I pulled out. I couldn't take it any more. You just can't get access to players.

"They are now being indentured to county teams and the clubs, I believe, should be deciding when they are released. We have it the wrong way around. The counties decide when they get the club players.

"Again it goes back to over the last decade the GAA, in a way, has lost the run of itself. It became totally consumed with generating revenue to the detriment of club football and that can only be sustained for so long.

"Where are the future generations of club players going to come from if clubs say, 'Well if we are going to develop a young player and we are relatively weak and this is the key cog in our team and he or she is gone for eight months of the year?' I think we need to take a really hard look."

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He is also concerned at the expense of running inter-county teams to the detriment of clubs. "My concern is that money is being pulled away from the clubs who are crying out for help. We need to totally re-evaluate that."

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Moyna revealed that he has been to only four games of football all year, the All-Ireland final and three games involving his home club Scotstown who advanced to the recent Ulster club final.

"You couldn't pay me to go and watch a game of football," he admitted. "I couldn't watch it and Sigerson became like that. It became 14 men behind where Sigerson was that one competition where it was man against man."

Moyna's damning verdict comes as a growing number of protagonists speak out against the trialling of experimental rules in the forthcoming league. He feels they should be given every chance.

"Of course, there is resistance," he said. "Always the same people, the inter-county managers. Let's give it a try because what's there currently is not working. Look at the attendances this year. That's all you have to look at. You couldn't pay people to go. Giving away tickets and people still wouldn't go.

"I gave a talk at an AFL conference a few years ago in Adelaide and I got to speak to them afterwards about what they were doing. They said their game evolved and they realised people weren't coming to watch it any more.

"Tactically, it was great with the coaches but it wasn't good for viewership. And what happened? They caught up again and they continued to evolve and change. This is only the start of a process. Our rules are going to continue to evolve and change so that we keep the premise of football in Gaelic football. I mean if I was a young kid growing up in Ireland there's only one sport I'd play and that would be hurling, based on what I've seen over the past few years."

Dublin's dominance is another factor and while Moyna doesn't see them failing in their bid to win five in a row, he can't see it lasting over the long term.

"Dublin was a sleeping giant and we all knew that. Everyone was worried about the day that Dublin got it right. Dublin have got it right. Do I think that it's level playing field? No, it's not, but the way we have it, we have 32 counties.

"I can't see anyone beating them. Mayo are in transition, Kerry are a year or two away, and there is no guarantee that talented minors will come all the way through. It's going to take a really exceptional performance from an exceptional team to beat Dublin this year."

The recruitment of his former student Byran Cullen has been another big factor, according to Moyna. His emphasis has been on training less and recovering more.

"It was very smart employing Bryan, particularly having worked with Leinster Rugby. Bryan came in and instead of doing more he has actually done….like a lot of counties a lot of guys do a lot of their own work, but in collective training Dublin don't train any harder than anyone else," the Monaghan native said.

"Do they have exceptionally gifted talented kids playing football, who are exceptionally athletic? They probably do. He has maximised that, but I don't think it is because they are training harder."

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