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'I've Seen Some Of The Conditioning At Inter-County, I Would Not Consider Them Elite Athletes'

'I've Seen Some Of The Conditioning At Inter-County, I Would Not Consider Them Elite Athletes'
By PJ Browne Updated

James Horan believes that Kildare were right to fight for their home advantage in their football qualifier against Mayo this weekend.

What the former Mayo manager cannot back is that many have used the issue as a stick with which to beat the GAA.

"There's been an undercurrent from the Super 8s, to the club fixtures, to the CPA, to the GPA - all these little things - and that's all sort of welled up now into this Kildare pitch issue," Horan said on Off The Ball on Wednesday night.

"I think people are just aiming now at the GAA - a lot of it right - but I think some of it is overboard."

The complaint that GAA is becoming an elitist sport is one which particularly annoys Horan.

This stuff about elitism being thrown out. I think Alan [Milton] mentioned it himself that some members of the GAA think it's run by these guys that don't care about anything - that's untrue and unfair to say on a lot of occasions.

This elitism thing: Who is it that's saying it? What is it? What do they mean? It's thrown out there way too easy for me. There are amateur triathletes, there's young swimmers, sports people all over this country, young cyclists that are putting in more hours than GAA players. Are they elitist in what they do?

I think there needs to be some clarity from people who are throwing out 'elitist GAA'.

Some of the GAA that I've seen and some of the conditioning at inter-county level, I would not consider them elite athletes. We do need to be clear on that because it's too easy to throw it out.

GAA director of communications, Alan Milton, was a guest earlier on Off The Ball and he addressed the accusation that those running the association have become detached from its roots and obsessed with finances.

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"We've all involved in clubs. We don't live in some ivory tower, some bubble out in the Azores where we're not connected with the real people," said Milton.

"We are the real people - I've come from an under-9 camogie session tonight.

"There's a fallacy and a narrative out there that I find hard to understand and it needs to be challenged. You could not run an organisation on some of the tripe that appears on social media. Some of it is well-constructed and genuine and heartfelt, some of it is constructed on a house of cards - it's not built on fact, it's not informed and you couldn't possibly run an organisation by that.

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"If the GAA is so transfixed with finance, why do we organise 65 per cent of our games as loss-making? Why don't we take revenue from bookmakers? Why don't we have gambling and alcohol sponsorship? I think some of the narrative is just out of control.

"The GAA is not run by a bunch of mavericks - most of them are elected. We're here to serve the membership and that's the way it should be."

Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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