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“Low on facts” | Nickey Brennan discusses Dónal Óg Cusack rant

Former association president Nickey Brennan takes aim at Donal Og Cusack who has accused the GAA of failing hurling

Former association president Nickey Brennan takes aim at Donal Og Cusack who has accused the GAA of failing hurling.

Nickey Brennan has described Donal Og Cusack’s accusation that the GAA has failed hurling as “low on facts”.

The former Cork goalkeeper and GPA chief, speaking on the Saturday Game, marvelled in the top tier but bemoaned what has gone on beneath that.

“While the game is going so well at one level, at another, it’s actually struggling,” said Cusack.

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“I think you (Ursula Jacob) used the word crisis there, and I would agree with that.

“Our biggest problem is we can’t spread the game outside of those big counties and I would say the GAA has failed hurling.”

Brennan looked at the statistics in both codes to compare and contrast how competitive each has been, with Cusack referring to the records “since the war”.

The Kilkenny man explains that 14 counties have won football All-Irelands since 1950 where 32 teams compete most years, which is 44% of those sides claiming the Sam Maguire.

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“In the same period in hurling, nine counties have won the 73 titles,” Brennan explains.

“Now I’m giving an average participation of 14 (counties in the SHC), and I’m probably a little generous there because I’m allowing for the ‘B’ champions in the past and the Joe McDonagh entrants.

“If you use 14 as the average participation, that’s a 64% return (of winners) in hurling.

“So more counties are winning in hurling since 1950 than have won in Gaelic football.

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“So I think it’s important to state that… proportionately more are winning in hurling than football.”

The former Leinster chairman and GAA president then went on to speak of the supports being given to counties, of how county borders should not be sacrosanct within club GAA at all levels, and the significant funding for hurling across the island.

“I would estimate that over the last six to ten years, there has been at least €6 million spent in relation to hurling in one way or another.

“When Liam O’Neill was president, in his parting address, he asked for €1 million to be put into hurling for Carlow, Westmeath, Antrim and Laois.

“Offaly made the case that they should have been included as well, and they were, so that €1 million was split over 12 years — €40,000 per year (each).

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“There was a group in the Leinster Council, which I was involved in with Michael Dempsey and Shane Flanagan, and we monitored how they would spend that money.

“Antrim weren’t involved in that, which was probably a mistake, they were let do their own thing.

“But there was a lot of work to see how those counties could come up to the level of preparation of Kilkenny, Waterford and Tipperary as an example.

“And there were big improvements made, and the management teams in the counties bought into that at the time.

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“So it’s very unfair to be saying there hasn’t been an investment by the GAA… we now have a vibrant five-structured championship.

“While we always have to do more in hurling and invest more in hurling, I think when people are making comments on TV about this whole area, I think they are very low on facts or information when they make those points.”

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