It's a shame that the major story to come out of Davy Fitzgerald's speech yesterday was the fact that he brought up the fact that players on the Clare team in the mid-2000s were 'taking harder stuff than drink.'
In case you missed it, during his chat to Limerick IT students, Davy said 'From the mid-2000s, in Clare, my feeling was that Clare was a social team. I know some of them were even taking harder stuff than drink.'
'I couldn't understand this. To me... I play to win and if you are doing stuff like that, you're wasting your time.'
He told many brilliant stories and had some inspirational words about sport and life in general but alas, the drug story has grabbed the headlines and it was it that GAA President Liam O'Neill was questioned about.
When asks about Davy's comments, the Independent reports that O'Neill refuted the idea that there's a drink and drugs problem in the GAA. He spoke about travelling with the Clare team for the All Stars trip to Asia last year: 'I asked them about their lifestyle and they said that there was no room for drink or any other substances in their lives.'
O'Neill made the point that players have too much to lose after fighting their way to the top:
Once they commit to that, they're top-class athletes. They value the opportunity they are getting, so there's no question of them ever putting their chance of playing at the top level at risk for drink or any other substance.
I was terribly impressed by them and I think the modern young hurler now just doesn't take the chance. I don't think any young man serious about sport would take any substances.
The GAA President did however acknowledge that we have a drinking culture in Ireland that needs to improve 'I still think we probably drink more than we should. But at this level, I don't think there's room for it.'
As I was saying it will be a huge shame if the only story that comes out of Fitzgerald's speech is purely a do they/don't they take drugs diatribe when there was so much more to take from his address.
His stories about being bullied in school, about meeting with sick Clare fans and the love he has for his family are very moving; his tales about the Clare team playing keepie uppies a few minutes before last year's All Ireland final and the way he regales training on the side of the road every morning and evening years ago so the Clare goalkeeper he was trying to displace would see him on the way to and from work are other examples of the great, non-drug related aspects of Fitzgerald's speech.
If you haven't heard it yet, make sure to have a listen, it's well worth it.