/ GAA

Brennan reveals anger at AFL scouts

Updated: Wednesday, 03 Dec 2008 18:52

Nickey Brennan insists that GAA facilities are not open to AFL scouts
Nickey Brennan insists that GAA facilities are not open to AFL scouts

GAA President Nickey Brennan has given his strongest indication yet that the use of GAA facilities by AFL scouts and clubs for recruitment purposes will not be tolerated by the Gaelic Games organisation.

Brennan branded the use of facilities at Kingspan Breffni Park last Friday by an AFL agent as a 'cheeky' move and 'illegal'.

'There was some "illegal" action if I could use that word but maybe I will refrain from using it,' Brennan said.

'I know that an Australian agent Ger Sholly had a couple of players in for a kick around or a session - whatever you would like to call it.

'Now you couldn't conduct a lot with only five or six players there. I won't say who but he was accosted by an individual from Cavan and told that he should get out of the place.

'As I have said in a number of media outlets, he was rather cheeky to do what he did without getting the permission in the first place.

'With Feile taking place, the place was pretty open and there were lots of things happening there relating to Feile.

'Those of you who know Breffni Park would know that you can slip into the back pitch quite easily and maybe not be noticed. But he was noticed and he was duly told that he shouldn't be there.'

And while Brennan was high in his praise of the Cavan officials who dealt with last Friday's incident, he also warned County Boards that the unofficial use of their facilities by other sporting bodies will not be tolerated.

He reiterated that GAA grounds under no circumstances can be used for possible recruitment for the AFL.

'We don't allow it end of story. If people are doing it they shouldn't be doing it. It's in black and white it's as simple as that.

'They don't have sanction and I will be saying that no County Board has the right to give them sanction either and I don't think they would to be fair.'

While the Kilkenny man was bullish in his comments towards the AFL's recruitment policies at present, he welcomed the open and frank discussions which took place recently involving himself, GAA Director General Paraic Duffy and AFL agent Rickey Nixon.

'Ricky Nixon is due to submit a formal document to Paraic which we can use to discuss ourselves in-house to make sure that we are quite 'au fait' with what he has in mind,' he enthused.

'It's one thing saying something to us at a meeting, and he was upfront. In fairness we were happy enough from that point of view. But let's put it on paper and see where we go from here.

'In fairness to Ricky Nixon, because he is the only one we have spoken to, we know that anything that he will do will not be done in a GAA facility.

'He will use other facilities – perhaps other sports or public parks. There is no issue about that.

'We want to regularise and get some control over this but we want to make it absolutely clear. We are not in the business of encouraging anybody to go (to the AFL) – let's be absolutely clear about that.

"The loss of these players to their counties and more especially to their clubs is devastating.

'We are trying to work out how best, if this is the carry on, and I don't go with the whole thing that there is going to be an avalanche of players going – that's not going to happen because they ain't here to go.'

Brennan was also keen to distance himself and distance the GAA from the 'tit for tat' war of words in the media at present involving ex GAA players Jim Stynes and Tadhg Kennelly and AFL agent Nixon.

'There is a bit of tit for tat going on, and obviously Tadhg Kennelly and Jim Stynes have become involved in that.

'We aren't getting involved and as far as we are concerned, we will deal with the thing in a full and straight-forward manner.'

Brennan and Duffy are now prepared for the next stage of a consultation process in relation to AFL recruiting of players, with the duo to meet AFL officials during the International Rules tour to Oz this autumn.

'We have met Nixon at the behest of Adrian Anderson of the AFL. We have that part done now, we are awaiting his report and we will deal with it in-house and we will go to Australia and conduct our business in Australia while we are there with the International Rules.

'What happens outside of that in the media, we'll obviously respond if we are asked questions by yourselves, but we are not getting into that scene at all," he insisted.

'We are in the business of conducting things in the best possible manner behind closed doors with the relevant people.'

And Brennan also explained that the return of the International Rules series this autumn has nothing to do with this resurging interest in the recruitment of upcoming GAA players by AFL scouts.

'I think there are a couple of things happening here. The AFL are expanding with new clubs and there is a bit of hype about getting additional players,' added the President.

'I think also the fact that of all people, Martin Clarke has probably focused a bit on potential talent from Ireland.

'It's nothing to do with the International Rules series and anybody linking the two is missing the point big time.'