There’s a fairly decent chance that Conor Hourihane would have been a gamechanger at Bandon and maybe even at inter-county level.
Kevin Cassidy did an interview last week where he spoke about how little interest he had in winning All-Irelands for Donegal when he was younger, how it was more soccer and then the club and that the idea of playing for Donegal only really came with experience and momentum of winning.
Australian Rules has taken guys from Cork GAA — Michael Shields, who played Kennedy Cup soccer with Cork at U14 incidentally, and Bernie Collins are two obvious ones — on a short-term basis who haven’t really impacted at all in the long term.
Two, traditions still matter, to a point. Kids in certain parts of the city or East Cork, or say kids attending St Kieran’s in Kilkenny, will always be more likely to grow up wanting to emulate a local hurler than a rugby player from Dublin.
Soccer has that unique interest selling point, has done some work in the setup of underage leagues and academies linked to League of Ireland clubs and still there’s a massive gap (a gap that for all the criticism and talk is an incredibly difficult fix) where basically most of the top players in Ireland from age 15 onwards are either lost to England for an unspecified and vital part of their progression or don’t yet have the step-up aspect where their needs are met by domestic football.