Duff: Kids want to play rugby nowadays, not football
Damien Duff has offered a withering assessment of the current state of Irish football as he insists that on the back of both Leinster and Ireland's successes this season, most youngsters nowadays want to play rugby instead.
Working as Shamrock Rovers' U-15s coach, the former Ireland winger has first-hand experience of what he believes is a major concern over the direction that Irish football is moving.
The 39-year-old recently spent time in the Leinster set-up as he looked to broaden his coaching horizons, and was very impressed.
"You see the rugby lads this year and kids just want to get out on the street and play rugby and it's the same when Ireland are in a major tournament," Duff said. "You can say that for the last 10 years. Even though we got to the Euros in 2012, rugby for me has had more success for clubs and the national team.
"The thing that helps us as football fans is that football is the biggest game in the world. But if you're looking from an Irish sporting point of view, what's our successes? A kid is going to want to go out and play rugby, not football.
"They're going to want to watch the Irish rugby team, the Grand Slam just gone - they're not going to sit in and watch us against the USA or us against France. I hate to say it, you're going to play the PlayStation. That's the truth."
Duff is adamant that for this "worrying" trend to change, young Irish football hopefuls need exciting players, who can provide big moments to look up to.
"If you're 11 years old, what are you looking for? You're looking for something to go, 'Wow, I want to watch this game tonight'," he added. "I hope there are players coming through. We've built up Declan Rice who looks a player. If you're a kid, you want to see magic and he's a different type of player. He will be a great player for Ireland but ... to bring that spark. It's not rocket science, that's what you do when you're a kid. Whatever sport. When Wimbledon's on everyone gets out and plays tennis. Can the Irish football team inspire kids to get out?"
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