GAA could learn a thing or two from AFL's parade and self-promotion
If it wasn't for Covid, Zach Tuohy would last year have been stuck in the middle of the famous AFL Grand Final parade.
That's a tradition, put-up with by players and adored by fans, where the competing teams parade through the streets on the eve of the AFL grand final. It's a different world, we get it, and the AFL is a professional sport but Covid or no Covid, there's not a hope in heaven you'd see something similar in the GAA.
Instead, All-Ireland finals go ahead with less of the fanfare, with less of the theatrical build-up and GAA Hour host Colm Parkinson for one, feels that, in this sense, the organisation are missing a trick. He was chatting to his fellow Portlaoise man Zach Tuohy on this Thursday's GAA Hour Show when the Geelong Cats star explained the story behind this occasion of excitement and anticipation.
"It’s like a St Patrick’s day parade," begins Tuohy.
"And you pair up on the back of trucks and they drive you around town and you wave and you fire lollipops at kids or something. It is part of the build-up and am we’ve often been warned in the build-up to like semi-finals and that that, if you do win it, it’s going to be a strange build-up to the biggest game of your life. But yeah, that’s hardly ideal prep is it, like, honestly?" he adds.
He's right there and every player will agree with him on that one but the point about a lack of hype still stands. In the AFL, there is camera-access at training sessions, there is behind the scenes footage at every corner while in the GAA, these are still uncharted waters.
"I think the AFL does access to players and clubs particularly well," says Tuohy.
"There are cameras constantly, in most clubs, in most place, at most of the time. It's a pretty powerful tool because if you're a club, and you're doing things right, you'll come out smelling great."
"Obviously, you’re not looking forward to it as a player, throwing lollies in the day before or whatever," adds Parkinson.
"But at the same time, it does create the buzz in the city and I don’t know I feel sometimes, the GAA is a little bit behind that thing of making a big, for example, I was giving out this year Mayo did their press day before the All-Ireland final a month before the final and they put one player up and the manager. Like no promotion really."
The GAA is already strongly supported in Ireland, but now is no time to rest on our laurels.