Money, Dublin and the GAA

Started by IolarCoisCuain, October 04, 2016, 07:27:37 PM

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Typically polemical article by Ewan McKenna in The Times today:

Dublin's predictable win makes GAA the big loser

Ewan MacKenna
Gaelic football commentary

It was in 2014 that Joachim Löw sat in a press room beneath the Maracana, the Germany football coach's face and his words hiding just what he and his nation had achieved in Brazil. With Germany just proclaimed world champions, it was a title that should have allowed the mask to slip, letting us into the very soul of victory. Only he saw it differently.

"We started this project ten years ago, so this is the result of many years' work," he said matter-of-factly, as if talking about erecting a garden fence. "We've continued that work and our strength has been our constant progress. We'd not made this ultimate step before."

After the colour and chaos of the World Cup that was a beautiful representation of the nation that hosted it, that seemed the wrong ending. Yet, it was a moment that came to mind in the aftermath of this All-Ireland final replay. The game itself may have been brutally brilliant with Mayo showing that the well is deeper than we could ever have imagined and Dublin digging far beyond the frontline to get over the finish, but this too seemed cold and mistaken. Money had bypassed passion.

There are many similarities between Dublin and Germany, the most obvious being a perfect use of endless resources to get to the top, but there are many key differences as well. For instance, some countries can get near to Germany's financial wealth, some countries can match their playing and coaching numbers, and crucially for all Fifa's flaws it never favoured any one nation to the detriment of the game it rules. Consider that for a moment. In the role of director-general since 2008, Paraic Duffy is often heralded and given an easy ride as a productive sports administrator, but think too about the years he's been in the job and the fact he's overseen the biggest case of doping in modern Irish sport. The financial doping that destroyed Leinster and is now destroying our greatest tournament.

By now we know the figures. Last year after a long and similar trend the GAA handed over €1,460,400 to the capital in a games development grant, more than any province combined with only one other county getting even six figures. That is before the €1 million a year special grant given over via the taxpayer and the Irish Sports Council. That is before we get to the fact that their population not only means a player base that dwarfs all others, but it also means a market that allows its sponsorship to dwarf all others. You can be sure that unlike in many places Bernard Brogan and Stephen Cluxton will not be on O'Connell Bridge in the coming months with a bucket asking for loose change to fund their efforts to be the best.

Of course none of this is Dublin's fault, they hve merely excelled off the field as they hve excelled on it. But it is the GAA's fault, for shame.

Therefore, strip away the emotion and fascination of Saturday and what essentially happened was a professional team in almost every way won a trophy contested by amateur opposition. We do not get excited when Manchester City brush past lower-league opposition in the cup, we do not get excited when a Mercedes whizzes past a Force India, so why is this different? When the Simpsons drew Homer in the ring with Drederick Tatum it was comedy yet what we have here is tragedy.

Dublin's players and management are not in the business of entertaining us, they are in the business of winning and they are exceptional at it. Yet, in the aftermath of this latest victory, there was something representative in their dull and carefully dusted words. Brogan could well have been speaking after an O'Byrne Cup game; Dean Rock used more clichés than the points he had kicked in a defining performance; Cluxton ticked the corporate boxes on the steps as he received the trophy. It was a representation of the machine they have become, overtaking the sport they play.

Deep down Dublin fans know this but have long had safeguards. They mention Kilkenny and Kerry when there is no numerical comparison. They mention how close Mayo got, when they have not been beaten in 29 games, most of which are akin to the Harlem Globetrotters humiliating the Washington Generals. They mention how this is a special generation and while it is, so is the next one and the one after that – indeed this final was telling as it was not the special generation that won it, it was instead the next generation with the likes of Rock and substitute Cormac Costello proving decisive. If you find the facts negative or bitter, then you problem is with the facts and with reality and if you do not money makes a telling difference, you really don't understand modern sport.

This is not difficult stuff. In fact after that 2014 World Cup final, sitting on a beach with soccer journalists, they asked about football. From a sphere of monopolisation and big bucks, they laughed at what the GAA had done and what they had made Dublin. But no one who truly cares about and loves the game is laughing now. Sadly, it is fitting that in these years of boom for the minority and bust for the majority in Ireland, the national game has been subjected to the same sort of ultra-capitalism in a ruthless form. The governing body jumped straight into bed with its cash cow and closed the door. All we can now see is the result of what went on.

Still the GAA expect us to lap up relatively tiny projects here and there, such as their €125,000 a year offered to Kildare, Meath, Louth and Wicklow to help with coaching. But smaller counties than Dublin actually need much more money than Dublin to balance out demographic disparity. This is merely loose change being flung at a homeless man to lighten the wallet and change perception. Do not buy that for a minute for they have long since chosen their partner. Aogan O Fearghail may have physically given Cluxton the trophy at the weekend, but his organisation long ago gave it to them.

In 1989 economist Francis Fukayama wrote an essay titled The End of History in which he described the collapse of communism and the triumph of capitalism as the end of mankind's ideological evolution. Across the 2000s though we saw the triumph of capitalism in what is supposed to be an amateur sport, and the result is the end of football's history. Dublin may have predictably won, but the game is the huge loser in all of this.


Davy's given us a dream to cling to
We're going to bring home the SAM

Kuwabatake Sanjuro

Just bitterness, the GAA should continue on its current path as we can't be going back to the days of people from the rest of the country enjoying inter county football.


Structures, sound financial planning, foresight etc.
You're all just jealous!
If you were any use you'd be playing.



The cash cow keeps on giving. It's noore than a lot of people think. Ewan is bang on with this article.

Bord na Mona man


I'm a bleedin' broke culchie.
For every 1 euro given to games development for a young lad in Mayo, €12 is given for a young lad in Dublin.
I'm still recovering from half choking on me slice of treacle cake and milky tea after the supper.



Quote from: blast05 on October 04, 2016, 08:14:16 PM
This is truly staggering...

Maybe I'm being a bit thick, but doesn't that money go towards Games Development Officers in clubs? It doesn't go towards the inter county set up.


That's the whole point.
It's the money Dublin have to spend on producing players for the inter county set up.
If you were any use you'd be playing.

Kuwabatake Sanjuro

The 3 lowest teams there are 3 of the biggest underachievers in recent years in terms of population in Cork, Galway and Kildare. Kerry are doing ok but they have massive revenue from sponsorship and donations. Meath's and Down are two other teams who should be getting better looked after. Tyrone and Donegal are doing very well with limited support but they have good income streams.



Quote from: Kuwabatake Sanjuro on October 05, 2016, 12:18:27 AM
The 3 lowest teams there are 3 of the biggest underachievers in recent years in terms of population in Cork, Galway and Kildare.

As much as money needed to be pumped into Dublin it is even more badly needed in our other urban areas now which have been practically completely ignored and left to wither on the vine by the top brass.