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  • "Kids Need To Be Told No" - Laois County Board Official Lashes Out At Invasion Of Foreign Sports

"Kids Need To Be Told No" - Laois County Board Official Lashes Out At Invasion Of Foreign Sports

"Kids Need To Be Told No" - Laois County Board Official Lashes Out At Invasion Of Foreign Sports
By Conor Neville Updated
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Many of our readers may not be aware that a Portarlington lad recently signed for Galway United. This, you might have thought, could have been a cause for modest celebration in the town of Portarlington.

However, Laois county board assistant treasurer Kieran Leavy, himself a Portarlington man, greeted the news as if it heralded the end of days.

For Leavy, it merely highlights a dangerous trend in his hometown, one which the guardians of his own sport need to combat.

And while small town businesspeople fret daily about the exodus of their youth to the big cities, Leavy, in stark contrast, laments the recent influx of people into his own town. At least in this one respect.

His comments at a meeting of the Laois county board meeting were reported by Alan Hartnett in Laois Today.

The increase in population is having a detrimental effect on our town.

There is a serious amount of people coming into the town to play different sports who have no affinity to GAA clubs.

They are coming to Dublin and they are playing soccer. Soccer is so strong in Portarlington that they are moving into a summer season which means they are going to be in direct conflict with our juveniles.

We had a player sign for Galway United recently which was totally unheard of in Portarlington before now.

He talked anxiously about young people are often suckered into falling for blandishments such as 'a place in the Leinster squad.'

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And to those stubborn Portarlington incomers who remain determined to flirt with soccer and rugby, Leavy urges an uncompromising, almost pre-1971 response.

The situation demands it. Summer soccer coming down the tracks across the country by decree of Dutch guru Ruud Dokter. For Leavy, this means direct competition with GAA and something has to give.

If a young lad comes and says he is going to play soccer, he needs to be told ‘alright, go but we don’t want you anymore’.

I know that sounds terrible but it is my opinion. We are going to have to draw our battleground because there is a war coming...

Kids want to play soccer, rugby and others and they need to be told no. They train on the same days and they can’t expect to play on Saturday’s if they haven’t appeared during the week for training.

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It's 46 years since Rule 21, aka 'The Ban', was wiped from the GAA rulebook. During it's unfeasibly long life, the ban attracted many critics, Eamon De Valera being among the most prominent and surprising (surprising, at least to those taken in by the caricature of 'the long fellow'). One of the most famous transgressors was the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, who was punished for attending a soccer international against Poland (who else?) in Dalymount in 1938.

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The ban may be gone but the fear that kept it in place for so long has never quite gone away. The GAA has always worried about being swamped by soccer and rugby, with their internationalist glamour and their carrot of professionalism at the top end.

Remember that quote from the debate in Congress on the opening of Croke Park. "If I ran a car showroom, would I allow my rivals to market their cars in my showroom?" asked one anxious delegate.

Nowadays, it's not unusual to hear GAA people in places like Leitrim observing that rugby has become dangerously popular in their county in the last decade.

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So Leavy is far from alone.

The ban may be long gone but some GAA people insist that the association must remain on a war footing. The battle for hearts and minds is one that never ends.

For those interested. Excluding Stephen Hunt, who was born in Laois but is really a product of Waterford, the last Laois man to play senior international football for Ireland was Rathdowney's Tony Byrne who earned 14 caps in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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The remainder of the quotes can be found here

The Laois county board have since released a statement distancing themselves from Mr. Leavy's comments.

Read more: Kilkenny's Worst League Defeats - And What Happened Afterwards

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