Sunday 19 January 2020

Money talk is 'used as bait' to wind up the Dubs

McManamon feels structural change will 'come eventually'

Pictured at the AIG Insurance GUI & ILGU Cups & Shields Launch at Carton House in Maynooth is Kevin McManamon of Dublin
Pictured at the AIG Insurance GUI & ILGU Cups & Shields Launch at Carton House in Maynooth is Kevin McManamon of Dublin

Kevin McManamon "loves the Leinster championship" but he probably realises by now that not everyone feels the same passion for Dublin's provincial plaything.

Last Sunday's latest final rout - by 16 points over Meath - prompted another recycling of those increasingly familiar debates about the demise of Leinster football and the supposed advantages enjoyed by Dublin that have facilitated its slow, painful death.

Kevin Mac has heard it all - talk of Dublin's abundant resources, not just population but hard currency.

"People say it's money and you're kind of just used to it at this stage. Some people are trying to use it as bait to wind us up," he said yesterday.

"You just kind of smile at it. Anyone in my career that's supported me, or that's helped me make the player I am, doesn't get paid. That's how I would look at it.

"You go up the odd time to the academy (at his club, St Jude's) and there's hundreds of young lads, and they're all volunteers giving their time to train them and give them a good Saturday morning, make them enjoy football and hurling.

"Look, I know there's loads of money in whatever way it's spent, I know the county board are big into participation - but as far as I'm concerned, my success has been free, if that makes sense."


But what of the counter-argument about the impact of games development grants to Dublin, totalling almost €18m over a 12-year period from 2007 to '18, with Cork the next county on €1.4m? Surely that has some knock-on effect on the quality of Dublin's senior team?

"I don't know the figures. I don't know anything about it," said McManamon. "I'd leave that up to John (Costello) and the lads in the county board. But does it affect us? It's hard to know. Obviously, if you say those figures, it makes it sound like it does. I don't feel it or experience it.

"Obviously we've got massive participation at underage, we've got development officers in different clubs and stuff like that, so I think success is probably based in that case on participation. I don't think it's massively affecting the senior team."

The next questions pertains to a recent Irish Independent article, reporting that the representative of one unnamed Dublin player recently gave €6,000 as the price for a promotional appearance.

"I don't know where they came up with those figures because I've never seen anything like that, to be honest with you," said McManamon, who was appearing at the launch of the AIG Cups and Shields.

"So I don't know where it came from, saying that people are getting six grand to go and give medals out? Like, that's not true."

The six-time All-Ireland winner, now 32, has no issue with amateur players earning money on endorsement deals. Those players, after all, devote endless hours to their sport for nothing.

"I haven't done anything in a few years," he clarified. "If people give up their time and they're training as much as they are and they're going out and they're doing a sponsorship thing, all well and good, they get a few bob - but I haven't personally seen figures like that."

Back to the football. McManamon came off the bench as Dublin left Meath for dust in the second half last Sunday. It was a record ninth provincial title on the spin for Dublin - and a ninth for Kevin Mac too.

"I love the Leinster championship. It's been big for me. I'd be committed to it and honoured to win it as much as we have," he said.

But when the average winning margin is veering between 15 and 20 points?

"It is what it is. Is the question what would I change?" he enquired. "It's hard to know. It is cyclical. You see how competitive some of the other provinces have been this year. So what do you do? Do you dismantle one or dismantle all?

"I don't know, I'd leave that up to the lads in HQ. It feels like there's a change going to come eventually. That's what it feels like to me.

"I'd probably structure the year a little differently if it was me ... I don't think I'll see the different style of competition but I won't be here too much longer."


What structure would he favour? "It should be a six-month season. And it should be condensed," he replied.

"There's a lot of time wasted - I'd have it done by the Bank Holiday weekend in August. Yeah, I'd probably play off more of a league basis or something like that. You watch the AFL (in Aussie Rules), some structure like that would be one I'd admire.

"As amateurs," he added, "I think if you get a six-month season you could have three months for the club. Then you could actually have a social life ... I'm interested in other sports and have wanted to play other sports but never got a chance. I've a lot of interests outside of Gaelic. Then you could be full-on (GAA) for six months, that would be my view on it."

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