Adapt or die – that’s the ultimatum Gaelic games is facing with other sports turning the heads of young Irish men and women in rural parts of the country.
On the RTÉ GAA Podcast, former Wexford hurling manager Tony Dempsey and current Kildare boss Joe Quaid both voiced their concerns as rugby and soccer in particular provide a lure that’s proving hard for many young sportspeople to resist.
Dempsey said it’s time to rise to that challenge and strive to do everything possible to make hurling and football the games our next generation are drawn to.
“I’m with my own club this year in hurling and minor football. Of our first 15 players in minor football, their first choice would be rugby,” said Dempsey.
“That’s new to rural Wexford, it’s new to Ireland and I think we have to become aware of the challenge of other sports and we have to make our games more attractive to the players.
“What do we do about it? We listen to the GPA, and we say, ‘right, is there something we’re not doing that we should be doing?’ We need to recognise the challenge of other sports an make our games more attractive than any other sport.”
Quaid echoed those sentiments. He highlighted calendar issues and summer stretches without any action as major issues that need to be addressed.
“Anybody playing in the Christy Ring, their season could be conceivably over in three weeks’ time. That’s not promoting hurling,” said Quaid.
“What are they going to do? Guys are going to play rugby where they’ve set fixtures, a set season, they play from start to finish, the games are scheduled.
“There is definitely a problem with outside sports. We don’t make it very easy for club players or county players, to facilitate them, in the summer months. Hurling and football are games that should be played in the summer months.”