CORK U20 football boss Keith Ricken, who led the Leesiders to All-Ireland glory last season, believes that the gap between the club and county is widening.
Ricken was speaking at the launch of the Eirgrid Under-20 All-Ireland championship for 2020 at Croke Park and he made some telling comments on how he currently sees things.
“The GAA is about your club. We go to the end product again, all of us will hopefully be put down into the ground by our club.
“It’s our club that will bring us to our last destination. It’s the club jersey that will be draped on (the coffin) and someone from the club will give something (of a speech) about it.
“Your family will be involved but your family are your club.
“I was at a funeral last week and that’s what the GAA is about, your community in action when you are really down, when your life does go wrong for you.
“If we alienate our best players from that then we lose a generation and it will have a huge effect on the club.’’ Ricken has had a lifetime of involvement in the GAA and he has seen all sides of it with his beloved St Vincent’s, Cork IT and Cork.
And he believes that the link between club and county is strained and almost at breaking point.
He believes the situation is nearly at a point where a club is penalised for producing an intercounty player.
“I think that we need to get back to a snapshot in time, these are the best players that we have in our clubs representing our county.
“Until we get back to that the juggernaut is going to take off and the gap between club and county, that string will be broken.
“That’s it then, we are gone as an association, that’s how I see it. That’s my humble opinion, I don’t think everyone will agree with me but that’s as someone who is on the ground. I am involved in coaching since 1987.
“Club people are the people you need most.
Ricken led Cork to a glorious under-20 title last season, defeating Dublin in the final after being 1-6 down early in the game.
His approach to the whole thing, he said, was very simple and producing young men has to be more important than winning teams.
“Look at all the things like depression rates, suicide rates and all these things in young men.
“There’s a perfectness out there and they must be at this perfectness. And they don’t see the marvellous stuff they have themselves and what they can offer.
“And as an Association and as a Corkman we have to do that and that is what we are doing."