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18th Jan 2024

Larry McCarthy explains why NBA-style-draft wouldn’t work for GAA transfers

Niall McIntyre

GAA president Larry McCarthy has ruled out the prospect of the association implementing stricter rules when it comes to inter-club transfers.

The Shane Walsh-to-Kilmacud saga of 2023 caused controversy at the time, with some commentators insisting that there should be more regulations in place regarding player transfers.

After all, here was one of the top forwards in the country joining the biggest club in the country with whom, as it would turn out, he would go onto win an All-Ireland title.

But Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael McCarthy feels that, as an amateur organisation with amateur players, the GAA has no right to tell players who they can and can’t transfer. Regulations such as one that would prohibit players transferring into Senior 1 clubs in Dublin was mentioned to McCarthy but he wasn’t having it.

‘That’s a very difficult thing to do. In fairness, the movement of population is eastward to a place like Dublin.

“What you’re saying is if I am a star from another county and my life has taken me to Dublin, I have to play – or I cannot play – with somebody in Dublin because they’re too strong.

“That seems to be a bit harsh,” he said, at the launch of the 22nd Laochra Gael series for TG4.

Shane Walsh

The NFL and NBA draft systems are used to maintain competitiveness in professional sports but McCarthy, former chair of the New York GAA board and an associate professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, doesn’t think it would work in terms of GAA transfers.

“The NFL draft is managed because when people are entering it, that’s when they are sent, for want of a better term, to their franchise.

“Or whichever franchise or team picks them.

“This is a different scenario.

“This is somebody at some stage in their lives, because of professional need or professional requirements, they’re moving to a different part of the country.

“The NFL player doesn’t have that freedom. He is contracted.

“‘We are an amateur organisation so you have that freedom to be able to move.

“You’re not going to have the sports organisation perhaps dictating where you should go professionally – or impacting on where you should go. 

“It’s very difficult to do that or justify that – again, notwithstanding the integrity of the competition or the fairness of the competition – to tell people in an amateur sports organisation that you have to do this or you can’t do that. Or there are places you can’t play.”

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