New GAA president John Horan concerned about amateur status

‘Amateur status is a value and a mind-set and the answer is at club and county level’

 Newly elected GAA president John Horan gives his first speech to congress in the role. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Newly elected GAA president John Horan gives his first speech to congress in the role. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

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New GAA president, John Horan - the first Dublin native in 97 years to be elected to the office - has expressed concerns about the association’s amateur status.

In his first address in office, at Saturday’s annual congress in Croke Park, he identified elitism as a threat and referred to outgoing director general, Páraic Duffy’s discussion document on the subject, which was published six years ago.

“Elitism is a threat to our amateur status,” he said. “The outgoing Árd Stiúrthóir has exposed some stark realities in this regard and I believe the answer to these questions rests - not with Croke Park but with each and every one of the clubs who operate around the country.

“What does the amateur status mean to us as GAA members? If it is something that we hold dear then it demands actions not words and leadership at club and county level to make it a core value in how we conduct ourselves. It’s clubs and counties who have the power to control the amateur status and set a standard that illustrates its importance to the association.

“We need to create a succession plan and pathway for managers and coaches at club and county level to develop our talent - much like we do with players.

“We won’t preserve the amateur status through rules passed in Croke Park. If this was the easy answer it would have been done, but perhaps we know that such rules would simply be circumvented. Amateur status is a value and a mind-set and the answer is at club and county level.”

He also expressed misgivings about the widespread growth of inter-county development squads.

“When all is said and done, we are a sporting body and nothing is more important than our games and the people who play them. As a former inter-county selector and manager at under-age level, I have a concern about the manner in which inter-county development squads in particular are being allowed to grow beyond all measure.

“I plan to initiate a review of this sector as these development squads in my view are starting too early and we need to row back from creating a level of elitism in young players which is unhealthy for our games.”

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