CORK HURLING STAR Donal Óg Cusack thinks GAA chiefs need to takes lessons form their rugby counterparts in how to market the game.
The three-time All-Ireland winner — who is sitting out this season with an Achilles injury sustained in the national league semi-final against Tipperary — says not enough is done to sell the game of hurling and ‘we take it for granted’.
“Last week I got a call from the mother,” Cusack writes in his first column for the GAA’s official website, “She was excited and talking fast. Never a good sign. Mrs So and So wants you to… lovely woman…would be wonderful….great work they do.
“So after a couple of phone calls I ended up in Ballymaloe on Sunday morning to help Bord Fáilte sell hurling to tourism representatives from England and Australia. The original idea was for me to be galloping around the fields with a ball on a stick. Don’t think so. If our tourism reps went to Spain they wouldn’t expect to have a man with a cape pointed out to them in a field. ‘Oh look! It’s a bullfighter!’
“Instead I gave a little talk about hurling. It struck me what a poor job we do of selling hurling — not just to tourists but to our own people. Hurling is an amazing part of our culture. It makes us unique in a world where everything is increasingly the same. You have to experience a game to appreciate its beauty. We take it for granted.
“We opened Croke Park to rugby a few years ago and that was the right thing to do. I chatted to a friend in Croke Park on Sunday and we wondered did rugby gain more than we did from that time. While we had them as guests we should have kept an eye on the way rugby and its sponsors have sold their game as part of what we are.
“This is Rugby Country?? Not the part of the country I grew up in anyway! We should be careful or else we might be convinced that it is. The Leinster final was another chapter in a golden age for hurling. Sunday’s Munster final is a different sort of occasion now. We need to sell these days with the same imagination and drive that Galway brought to the table [in the Leinster SHC final win over Kilkenny].”
Do you agree?