Jim Gavin gives qualified welcome for Sky deal

Bernard Brogan in line to make return off the bench for champions against Cork

Manager Jim Gavin fielding questions at the Dublin senior football squad press conference at the  Gibson Hotel ahead of tomorrow’s NFL semi-final against Cork at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Manager Jim Gavin fielding questions at the Dublin senior football squad press conference at the Gibson Hotel ahead of tomorrow’s NFL semi-final against Cork at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 01:00

Everyone else has tossed their tuppence into the pot by now but since yesterday was Jim Gavin’s first time to sit with the media since the GAA’s conscious coupling with Sky Sports, we asked him for his.

A Sky subscriber himself – but only during the winter, he pointed out, for the American football – he stressed his full faith and confidence in Liam O’Neill and Páraic Duffy. Nonetheless, he was uneasy with aspects of the new dawn.

“Their record would show that any decisions they have made have always been in the interests of the association and they have always been trying to promote Gaelic games. They have stayed strong to that ethos in our rule book.

“It is an emotive debate for a lot of people and certainly I have empathy for those people who would say that certain people in the country won’t have access to games. That’s just a fact.

“I think it will be very strong. You know, we have young men and women who are playing lots of sports. And it’s great now we have our Gaelic footballers and hurlers on a par with those professional sportsmen, but I still think we need to keep to our amateur ethos.

“I’d be loath to see us going away from our amateur ethos. I think we’d all walk away if that happened, to be blunt about it.

“I know the players do it for the right reason. They have a passion for Gaelic games. Players just want small, fringe benefits. It’s a duty of care that county boards have to their players that they’re looked after in a small way.

“Players don’t look for much. It’s just looking after them so they can perform for their county. The bridge we can’t cross is pay for play. That’s just not on.”

All in all, it added up to a qualified welcome for the Sky deal. He thinks it will ultimately benefit the association but cautions against allowing it to get beyond their control.

“That’s up to our leadership to ensure that never happens, that we never cross that Rubicon of going into professionalism. We certainly have engaged with commerce and that Rubicon has been crossed in terms of sponsorship on jerseys to having commercial partners of the GAA associated with the championships.

‘Managed well’
“That’s been managed well, that’s the big change we all had to adapt to, but I think it’s been to the benefit of the association.

“So I think we just need to trust our leadership in the GAA. It is up for review in three years’ time and I’m sure if there is any wavering from the core principles then the membership will come down heavy.”

As he turns to tomorrow’s league semi-final Gavin is finding himself with more and more of his best squad to pick from.

After a couple of weekends of false starts, it seems increasingly likely Bernard Brogan will play some part against Cork, despite not being named in the starting team, released last night.

Cian O’Sullivan has been handed the number six shirt for tomorrow but still has a fitness test to come through. Paul Flynn still has to come through the last part of concussion protocols before he can play.

“Well, it was concussion,” said Gavin. “He’s got great care over the last few weeks. He was put on a programme straight away so it looks quite promising for him.

“There are no protocols within the GAA but our medical team look after that and they pass him on to a neurosurgeon who specialises in that area. And it’s his call whether a player will return or not.

“First and foremost, it’s player welfare. And if he’s fit to play, he’s fit to play. And if he’s not, we just don’t play him.

“Paul has seen a consultant neurosurgeon quite recently. He has one more milestone to get through so hopefully that will go well for him.”

DUBLIN (team to face Cork): Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper; Rory O’Carroll, Philly McMahon; James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, Kevin Nolan; Michael Dara Macauley, Tomas Brady; Jason Whelan, 11 Alan Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly; Kevin McManamon, Eoghan O’Gara, Paddy Andrews.

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