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Incoming President Issues Concerns Surrounding GAA’s Changing Culture

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Incoming GAA president Larry McCarthy has expressed concerns around the GAA’s obsession with elitism claiming the culture of the organisation is in danger of mirroring that of American sports. 

McCarthy, who will take over from John Horan as Uachtarán Cumann Lúthchleas Gael next year, outlined that he sees red flags in the current direction being taken by the GAA citing that 98 per cent of the playing population are being left behind as efforts are focused on producing elite athletes for the inter-county stage, to the detriment of the club game.

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The Cork native who represents the New York county board became the first overseas President-elect in 2019 and while he intends to see out his term in Ireland, his tenure stateside has led McCarthy to believe that the GAA’s culture is beginning to mirror that of the USA.

“We are becoming like America, where if you are not ‘numero uno’ you don’t count,” McCarthy said on the GAA’s Hurling Around The World webinar.

“The whole system [in the USA] is geared towards producing the best elite athletes… and that’s a dangerous thing in the context of club participation.

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“The whole sports culture of the US is ‘get us [to number one]’. And we would seem to be moving that way in terms of the GAA at some level, that the obsession is with [becoming number one], and getting to Croke Park on our two high holy days [the All-Ireland SFC and SHC finals].

“There is a tendency then to ignore the 98 per cent, which is not good, no matter what way we look at it. At some level, we are becoming globalised and obsessed with seeing the elite.”

The incoming President also used the example of professional rugby and how the club game has suffered over the past two decades.

gaa president

“It has happened in rugby. Rugby has gone to this sports-entertainment model, which has not done the rugby clubs, I would suggest, in Ireland, very much good, in general, in participation in the sport, and we don’t want to go there.

“We couldn’t go there, that’s not us. And we won’t go there. We have to make sure we take care of the second and third and the fourth levels, that 98%.”

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