Friday 20 September 2019

Strange to see duo depart for States before Junior semi

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Two of Wexford's leading performers will be playing football in Boston when their colleagues are battling it out with Mayo in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final on Saturday.

It may have been kept under wraps over the past week, but Wexford G.A.A. stand indicted for sanctioning the transfer of two players from the county with an All-Ireland semi-final on the horizon. What message does this send out with regard to the county's footballing intentions, although the rumour mill is also rife in hurling circles?

There is no doubt the average G.A.A. player is changing, particularly when players see fit to leave club, county and an All-Ireland semi-final to ply their wares across the Atlantic.

In this case the decision of two Wexford footballers - Robbie Vallejo and Niall Hughes - to leave their colleagues just before an All-Ireland semi-final just about sums up the loyalty, or in this case the lack of it, when it comes to club and county.

One could express shock at players giving up the chance of playing in an All-Ireland semi-final, but right now they seem to have a tenuous link with club and county, and regard America as a more attractive option to wearing the county colours.

There is no doubt that the average young G.A.A. player is changing in terms of his outlook towards life and towards the game itself in recent years, but it's very hard to avoid the perception that there is more than just the travel bug catching on in this case.

Most players resist the offer, while some make their intentions known prior to the commencement of the championship, but to depart just weeks before an All-Ireland semi-final has cast a whole new dimension as to where players' loyalty lies.

The amount of inter-county players heading off to America already seems higher this year than ever. Each and every county is affected and the list is long, but this is the first time that players have left their county with an All-Ireland semi-final on the horizon.

Many will say players going out to America is not a new thing, they have been going out there for decades, but what has the GAA done about it?

In Wexford's case they sanctioned the transfers despite the county awaiting an All-Ireland semi-final, while there is also that little matter of their clubs battling it out in the county championship.

So in the case of the Wexford players an All-Ireland semi-final is simply not worth waiting around for. But now that the transfer of the duo to America on the eve of the All-Ireland semi-final has eventually found its way into the public domain, it does not sit snugly with the G.A.A. in the county or the football management set-up.

There has been silence from the football fraternity. There have been no outbursts of disappointment, no outbursts towards the county management, but where does Wexford football sit in all of this, given the huge expenditure on football each year, with little or no return, a spend that is comparable to the hurlers, who will bring at least some glory to the county on a given date?

Now the clubs are supposed to sit and grin and bear it. They see little of their inter-county players, and even less once the inter-county season is over, as many choose to take the remainder of the summer out across the Atlantic. And then we wonder why clubs are struggling, why the standard of the club game is in decline, why attendances are dropping?

Worse of all is that the G.A.A. are continually pumping monies into inter-county teams, many with little or no reward. With all the money that is flowing through the G.A.A., the time has arrived for a re-think before counties and clubs are financially crippled.

It will be interesting to see the Wexford inter-county spend come the presentation of finances at the end of the year, but one area the G.A.A. in the county must address is the allocation of finances for inter-county teams.

Given the poor return from football, with two straight championship defeats and failing to secure promotion from lowly Division 4, the expenditure must be scrutinised.

If the Wexford football management, and the players for that matter, haven't the ability to achieve promotion from Division 4 without a huge spend, finance is not going to achieve it for them.

The fact is, two Wexford footballers have opted not to play with the county in an All-Ireland semi-final.

Surely this deserves some form of explanation from management and County Board.

Wexford People