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21st Feb 2024

“Every one of them plays GAA” – Kevin Doyle says soccer will lose out under new FAI plan

Niall McIntyre

The FAI’s new football pathways plan has been opposed by former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Doyle.

One of the main headlines of the plan was the FAI’s move to a calendar season which, according to the association, received 65% support based off over ‘11,000 hours of consultation.’

Some soccer leagues have been running in line with the academic season in recent times but under the new plan, games and leagues will continue during the summer.

Former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Doyle sees this as a ‘problem’ that will see soccer lose out to GAA in many rural areas, including his own.

Doyle, a scorer of 37 Premier League goals for Reading and Wolves, is the chairman of Glynn/Barntown AFC, with whom his three kids play, and he sees some issues hurtling down the tracks for his club under the new plan.

“Unfortunately, the first thing I see is a problem and I know they’re not going to like me saying this in the FAI.

“Just in country clubs – we (Glynn/Barntown) have a fabulous amount of players, the most of any club in the county, but they all also play GAA in the summer so while this whole document is talking about getting more people involved, more players, more coaches, it will be the opposite for us,” says Doyle.

“Players will be burned out.

“Parents will be burned out.

“I’ve three young kids, they all play soccer, they all play GAA, they play hurling and football.

“And as it is, it’s a nightmare for a month at the end of the season and a month at the start of the season where it all overlaps so for us to have to do that over the summer, it is not going to work.

“We’re going to have to pick one over the other.

“And in a country club like Wexford, GAA will win out a lot more than soccer.

“And I know there’s talk about collaborating…we have coaches who coach the GAA in the summer and the soccer in the winter, we’ll lose them.


“I’d love for them to come to us. Take Wexford. We’re seen as a GAA county but we’re a massive soccer county,” Doyle continued.

“I’m de-facto chairman of this club. Everyone else does all the work but I’m down as chairman but come to us, speak to the grassroots.”

“We’re a perfect example of a grassroots football club. We want to see footballs, bibs, goals for pitches. We don’t care about the big words, waffly words in a report. We want to see what we can get that can help our kids.

“If our men’s teams have to play during the summer, as it says in the report, we have an A and a B team, but we will lose one team because every one of them plays GAA.”

Doyle’s viewpoint has been opposed, however, by former League of Ireland and football pundit Alan Cawley who says he ‘doesn’t agree with any of that.’

“If we’re serious about developing players for the first time ever then plough on with the ones who are serious,” said Cawley on ‘X’ having also described Doyle’s take as ‘GAA nonsense.’

FAI director of football Marc Canham addressed the clash with the GAA recently, asking ‘why would we organise ourselves around them?’

“The GAA isn’t going away.

“They are playing 12 months of year. Why would we organise ourselves around them? We shouldn’t design our calendar around other sports. We must be open to losing players to other sport. Need to create best experience so they don’t want to leave.”

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