Saturday 23 March 2019

Kilkenny would be a huge loss to Dublin football - Farrell

DESSIE Farrell has admitted that Ciarán Kilkenny would be "a huge loss" to Dublin football if, as expected, the former minor starlet signs professional forms with AFL club Carlton Blues next year.

Farrell, who managed the Dublin minor footballers, with whom Kilkenny starred en route to this year's All-Ireland final, has conceded that there is “every likelihood that he could be lost” to Aussie Rules after he completes his Leaving Certificate next summer.

“He has huge potential,” Farrell insisted. “He'd be a serious loss if he goes. For himself, it's a great opportunity. Aussie Rules provides that outlet. I've said it time and time again it's not the cash or the money or the salary that motivates young lads like this.

“It's the lifestyle, being able to dedicate yourself full-time the whole time to improving yourself, improving your skills and bettering yourself in a sport that you love. That's the real attraction here.”

However, Farrell also acknowledged that the odds on any Irish player following in the footsteps of Jim Stynes and Tadhg |Kennelly by having a long and successful career in the AFL were thin. “I think the average career for a professional Aussie Rules footballer is only about four years,” he said.

“The marquee names down there – their longevity seems to be eight, nine, 10 years, some of them. That's where the money is to be made in that game.

“But for a lot of other fellas, four years is a short career and you need to be making sure that you're looking after yourself in terms of your off-field stuff.

“A lot of the issues that we're dealing with as well. You won't

make enough money from the game over a four-year period to sustain yourself afterwards.

“And it's four years at the formative stage of your own career outside of the game. So it's not the be-all and end-all either.”

The GPA chief executive also noted that breaches of the winter training ban were widespread although he revealed that the players body had not received formal complaints from its members.

“It is an issue,” he acknowledged. “It's not that we've had any formal complaints but as we go digging ourselves you realise that you don't have to scratch the surface too far maybe to discover that this is a problem.”

Farrell was also skeptical of the rule itself – which has been amended to a more staggered format beginning next year – |and insisted its fault lies in the inability of the GAA to police it.

“The training ban just isn't happening,” he said. “It's been contravened right, left and centre and obviously there's the whole issue of what's the solution to it? Is there a solution?

“Do you go down the road of trying to enforce something like this and can that be policed and monitored or is that going to |end up being the same as previous... unenforceable, if you like. To me, you should avoid introducing rules that are too difficult to police.”

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