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O’Dwyer blasts GAA

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — In his most frank interview for some years, Kildare manager and former Kerry great Mick O’Dwyer has launched a scathing broadside in the direction of the GAA over the association’s redevelopment of Croke Park.

O’Dwyer also called on the GAA to accept the validity of the Gaelic Players Association and to introduce a closed season.

"To be fair, we needed Croke Park, but I think that there’s too much money being put into bricks and mortar," he said last week. "They must have got their plans for the stadium out in California. I mean, the climate in Ireland is one of wind and rain, and if you go and sit at the front of the new Cusack Stand, you will get drenched. I’ve seen people running to get from the front to the back. If you were to design a house in a similar fashion, where the wind blew into your sitting room, you would nearly be certified."

O’Dwyer also criticized the dimensions of the pitch, stressing that goalkeepers now have little room to kick the ball out properly.

"Just ask either Declan O’Keeffe [Kerry] or Martin McNamara [Galway]," he said. "I think the situation is crazy as the whole system is governed toward trying to get people into the stadium while forgetting about the players and the game."

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Speaking on Radio Kerry, he said he was delighted when the GPA — the controversial players’ lobby group, which was set up last year — was founded because it put some pressure on the GAA, who should "abandon that bloody old nonsense of burying their heads in the sand."

Always a proponent of a better deal for players, O’Dwyer is of the view that the Gaelic games’ most important resources had never been top of the association’s list of priorities.

"We [Kildare] played five championship games in Croke Park last year and all that the players got after the Galway game was a ticket to go up to one of the executive suites were they got a drink, a few sandwiches and sausages," O’Dwyer said. "It’s time players were invited for a meal in one of the boxes where they can relax and mingle after a game."

He was equally critical of the way managers have been treated, stressing that he received nothing more than traveling expenses for his services to Kildare.

"A lot of people seem to think I’m getting thousands of pounds for my involvement with Kildare, but I get no more than the traveling expenses," he said. "I have set up a number of businesses in Kildare and that has helped. I suppose I have a stake in Kildare now. But I think that traveling expenses should certainly be paid to managers and I’ve no doubt that in the not too distant future, they’ll have to pay managers too. Managers are being treated with contempt."

O’Dwyer was also angry over the way money was being distributed within the GAA. He made the point that Kildare’s championship run in 2000 had generated in the region of £3 million, but that none of that had been redirected to the county board for investment at grassroots level.

He also advocated a closed season, arguing that the current schedule is contributing to the numbers of players out because of injury.

"I’m not too sure whether injuries today are all for real, or whether some might be in the players’ heads," he said. "I believe the reason why we have so many injuries in modern-day football is that players are playing from January to December. That’s a major problem and I don’t know of any other organization in the world that does that."

Commenting on some of the media criticism of Kildare during last year’s championship, he said he had no problem with television pundit and newspaper columnist Pat Spillane.

"Pat gave Brian Murphy and my son Karl some heavy treatment at halftime this year in the Leinster final and they came out and starred in the second half," O’Dwyer said. "But Pat is one of the greatest footballers of all time and is entitled to his opinion. I’ve no problems with Pat and we are good friends."

Forecasting major changes within the GAA in the years ahead, O’Dwyer still was of the opinion that the leading administrators would never seek his advice on pertinent issues.

"Croke Park have never consulted me about anything," he said. "They would be afraid because they consider me a bit of a radical."

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