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Harte Takes Dig At 'Ex-Gaelic Players' Turned Aussie Rules Recruiters

Harte Takes Dig At 'Ex-Gaelic Players' Turned Aussie Rules Recruiters

Mickey Harte is annoyed that former GAA players have become recruiters for Aussie rules teams.

One of Harte and Tyrone's star players, Cathal McShane, will soon travel to Australia for a trial period with AFL aide Adelaide Crows.

It had been rumoured that Brisbane Lions would be the 2019 All-Star's destination but Adelaide have announced that the 23-year-old will train with the club in January.

Harte believes that McShane should remain in Ireland where he says there would be far more certainty about his sporting career.

"All I can say is that he has been wooed by some people in the AFL and I think he’s going out there for a few days to experience what that might be like," the Tyrone manager told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"There’s no final decision made yet of whether he’s going to go or whether he’s going to stay with us. But at the moment he’s certainly considering that move.

"'Persuading' him isn’t the right word. I was trying to enlighten him to the fact that lots of good things can happen for him staying here, and that the things that he’s going over there to try to do are very much more variable.

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"As you would know, I’ve not been a fan of the engagement we’ve had with the AFL over many, many years now. And I think that’s the sad thing about it: it used to be in the past, we had unknown Australians trying to woo our players out to their AFL league.

"Now we have ex-Gaelic players doing it, which really saddens me. That’s what we’ve got now: we’ve got recruiters for the AFL within our own ranks of the GAA, and that’s sad.

"It’s something that you know was going to happen. All you needed to do was get a few players out there first and get them involved to some degree.

"We find that most of them come home and haven’t made it out there at all, and often don’t even play as good Gaelic football when they get back.

"But now they’ve got a different role, they can be agents for the AFL. And that’s an absolute free gamble for them. If our players succeed out there, it’s a cheap gamble, and if they don’t, they send them back to us to see if we can continue to play football with them."

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Harte criticised the GAA for essentially allowing the fox into the hen house. Many believe that the introduction of the attacking mark to Gaelic football will increase the flow of players from Ireland to Australia.

"Always, the case was people are allowed to go and play professional sport if they so choose to do it, and I never had any objection to that," said Harte.

"But I never would have thought that another organisation should be creating a warm market for that other organisation to come and take our players.

"So, yes, by all means if Cathal McShane wants to go and play Australian rules football, then that’s his prerogative to do so, and I wish him the best if he can do that.

"I would rather him stay at home. I think there would be a far better future for him if he stayed at home within the ranks of the GAA, within Tyrone and the whole of the country."

Asked about the possibility that clubs could be compensated for the development of players who subsequently sign deals with AFL clubs, Harte said: "I don't think there are too many other sports where people would mature players to a high level and then say, 'Here you are, go and have them'."

Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

See Also: 15 Great Images From A Weekend Of Scintillating Club GAA Action

PJ Browne
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