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Moynihan marks GAA's card on how to stop losing players to AFL

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Electric Ireland will live stream both Fitzgibbon Cup semifinals this weekend. Visit Electricireland.ie/HEC or Gaa.ie/GAANow

Electric Ireland will live stream both Fitzgibbon Cup semifinals this weekend. Visit Electricireland.ie/HEC or Gaa.ie/GAANow

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Electric Ireland will live stream both Fitzgibbon Cup semifinals this weekend. Visit Electricireland.ie/HEC or Gaa.ie/GAANow

Kerry have been hit harder than most with many underage sensations lured to the AFL and Seamus Moynihan is convinced that the GAA are throwing players to the Australian wolves with their latest rule changes.

Mark O'Connor and Stefan Okunbor are two Kingdom starlets who were snapped up by Australian clubs in recent years and Kerry legend Moynihan believes that the newly-introduced 'advanced mark' further promotes such poaching.

"I just think it's a bit insane," said the four-time All-Ireland winner. "There is a lot of meddling with the rules. The game, it's not a bad game, and we should not be changing rules so that these guys can come over, look at our game and see potential recruits.

"We are making the rules easier for these scouts to come over and see 'this is a quality player here', 'this is a good kicker', 'this guy is well able to catch the ball inside in the scoring zone'. We should be trying to improve our own game, not to adapt it to suit another sport," added the 46-year-old.

"While it's fantastic to see long ball going in and to see someone catching it, I just think it's a different sport, a different code. From a full-back's point of view, if a guy marks it and he doesn't put up his hand, you can't tackle him for four steps.

"How can you coach that? You're supposed to be up your man's proverbial back side. It's hard to interpret those rules, it's very hard to coach."

Moynihan appreciates "the fantastic opportunity" which an AFL offer creates and would "never stop anyone" from chasing the dream as a professional sportsman, but he thinks clubs and counties are being short-changed.

"It's very disappointing from a club point of view where you've done coaching all the way up, you've brought the kids up from club maybe into development county level . . . they play U-17s and then they're gone," he said.

"I know it's an amateur sport but there is no way you should be allowed to come in, grab a player from a club or a county, without some financial reward back to the club or county. You have to put stumbling blocks up to stop these guys coming.

"The GAA have to be resourceful as well in terms of putting packages in place for guys going to college and not allowing our best players to go on a plane and just shoot over.

One player who the AFL scouts were unable to coax away, however, is David Clifford and having coached him at Fossa, Moynihan knows him inside out.

With an All Star for each of his two inter-county seasons thus far, Moynihan understands why similarities are being made with Clifford and the likes of Maurice Fitzgerald.

"To be even comparing David and Maurice and the 'Gooch' (Colm Cooper) at 21, it's a fair compliment to the fella. There are more similarities to himself and Maurice in the sense of their size, his ability to score frees and do these wondrous things. But he also has the intelligence of Gooch to give the ball at the right time to the right player."

While Kerry almost spoiled Dublin's drive for five last year, Moynihan still rates Dessie Farrell's Dubs as the clear favourites to lift Sam Maguire once again in August, although the Kingdom's time is edging closer.

"Dublin have gone nowhere. Dublin are still favourites to win six, with the quality of players they have. Nothing has changed. All the key players have committed to the year ahead," he said.

"Kerry will look to the fact that they've won minors the last few years, have been successful. Their development squads are quite good. But it will take time. Kerry will get there. When? Very hard to say. But they are knocking on the door."