Author Topic: Money, Dublin and the GAA  (Read 126929 times)

Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #195 on: November 17, 2016, 03:35:46 PM »
I believe Erins Isle took their eye off the ball. Na Fianna and Ballymun have started to recruit from their feeder schools. A couple Balyymun Kickhams players including Alan Hubbard are from Finglas

Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #196 on: November 17, 2016, 03:50:07 PM »
Good to see all that money going so well on game promotion and development of players

http://otoolesgac.ie/2016/11/07/senior-hurlers-wanted/

then as someone stated perhaps that money is only about developing elite players and not keeping kids in the game.

That advert is more akin to Senior Rugby than GAA.
That’s very true and it’s disappointing to say the least, that the CC and the Dublin CB haven’t recognised the fact.
I’m not being anti-Dub here but there are facts that shouldn’t be ignored. The superclub system that operates widely in Dublin is great for coaching elite players and bringing them through to senior level but this “success” comes at a hefty price.
Just compare County Cavan with Finglas, a suburb in  Dublin.


According to the last census returns, Cavan has a population of 76,000.
According to local garda sources, the K district, covering Finglas, Cabra and Blanchardstown has roughly the same amount.
The Cavan GAA site says the number of clubs in Cavan is 41.
The number of clubs in Finglas is one.
There is a slight overlap with St Brigid’s in Castleknock but to all intents and purposes, Erin’s Isle is the only GAA club that matters in Finglas. (There is another small junior club, St Joseph’s,and there is the Pavee Gaels club that caters exclusively for the Travelling community.


So one club in Finglas compared to 41 in Cavan.


In fairness to Isles, the club has good contacts with the Primary schools in the area and draws all its juvenile members from those schools but in recent times the number of males teaching at this level is dropping sharply and so is the commitment to Gaelic games.
Isles only gets a small percentage of potential juvenile players in its catchment area and the vast majority of those who join will either leave as they get older or are dropped due to a shortage of teams as the age level increases.
Soccer, by comparison, has Tolka Rovers, roughly equal in size to Isles and there are (at least) 14 other clubs in the general Finglas area.
No problem guessing what the dominant sport in this area is.
I have had associations with Isles going back many years and I have nothing but praise for their underage structures and the volunteers who look after teams but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary public and there are many other clubs in Isles’ position throughout County Dublin.

St Josephs and Pavee have no association with Finlgas. They are based in North Inner City and Traveller Pavee play home games in St Vincents school in Glasnevin. Erins Isle are losing a lot of players in feeder schools to Na Fianna and Ballymun. A lot of their players from 1998 team that got to club final moved onto rival club or down the country.

shark

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #197 on: November 17, 2016, 03:57:27 PM »
Good to see all that money going so well on game promotion and development of players

http://otoolesgac.ie/2016/11/07/senior-hurlers-wanted/

then as someone stated perhaps that money is only about developing elite players and not keeping kids in the game.

That advert is more akin to Senior Rugby than GAA.
That’s very true and it’s disappointing to say the least, that the CC and the Dublin CB haven’t recognised the fact.
I’m not being anti-Dub here but there are facts that shouldn’t be ignored. The superclub system that operates widely in Dublin is great for coaching elite players and bringing them through to senior level but this “success” comes at a hefty price.
Just compare County Cavan with Finglas, a suburb in  Dublin.


According to the last census returns, Cavan has a population of 76,000.
According to local garda sources, the K district, covering Finglas, Cabra and Blanchardstown has roughly the same amount.
The Cavan GAA site says the number of clubs in Cavan is 41.
The number of clubs in Finglas is one.
There is a slight overlap with St Brigid’s in Castleknock but to all intents and purposes, Erin’s Isle is the only GAA club that matters in Finglas. (There is another small junior club, St Joseph’s,and there is the Pavee Gaels club that caters exclusively for the Travelling community.


So one club in Finglas compared to 41 in Cavan.


In fairness to Isles, the club has good contacts with the Primary schools in the area and draws all its juvenile members from those schools but in recent times the number of males teaching at this level is dropping sharply and so is the commitment to Gaelic games.
Isles only gets a small percentage of potential juvenile players in its catchment area and the vast majority of those who join will either leave as they get older or are dropped due to a shortage of teams as the age level increases.
Soccer, by comparison, has Tolka Rovers, roughly equal in size to Isles and there are (at least) 14 other clubs in the general Finglas area.
No problem guessing what the dominant sport in this area is.
I have had associations with Isles going back many years and I have nothing but praise for their underage structures and the volunteers who look after teams but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary public and there are many other clubs in Isles’ position throughout County Dublin.

St Josephs and Pavee have no association with Finlgas. They are based in North Inner City and Traveller Pavee play home games in St Vincents school in Glasnevin. Erins Isle are losing a lot of players in feeder schools to Na Fianna and Ballymun. A lot of their players from 1998 team that got to club final moved onto rival club or down the country.

My club in Westmeath are lucky enough to have one of them. Doing huge work with our underage.

Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #198 on: November 17, 2016, 04:01:03 PM »
Will check that out Lar but I'd be shocked if they went from 4 teams at u14 to 2 at u15. You don't loose 2 teams over the course of a year. I would agree that some of these catchment areas are too big but the space to base new teams just isn't there inside the M50.

There's just no way Ballyboden told lads at U15, "you're just not good enough, clear off"
Not a hope.

At under 15 level, I think matches move from Saturday to Sunday, so it brings a clash with soccer, and at that age anyway with exams coming on the scene it's very hard to combine soccer and GAA, like it would have been in previous years, so there's a natural drop off of lads who choose one code, and lads who give up altogether.
But if Ballyboden had only 2 teams, then it was because they didn't have enough lads to make up a 3rd team.


U14 & U16 are Saturday afternoons. u15 and minor are Sunday mornings which clashes. My own club suffers badly when clashes with soccer

Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #199 on: November 17, 2016, 04:02:16 PM »
Good to see all that money going so well on game promotion and development of players

http://otoolesgac.ie/2016/11/07/senior-hurlers-wanted/

then as someone stated perhaps that money is only about developing elite players and not keeping kids in the game.

That advert is more akin to Senior Rugby than GAA.
That’s very true and it’s disappointing to say the least, that the CC and the Dublin CB haven’t recognised the fact.
I’m not being anti-Dub here but there are facts that shouldn’t be ignored. The superclub system that operates widely in Dublin is great for coaching elite players and bringing them through to senior level but this “success” comes at a hefty price.
Just compare County Cavan with Finglas, a suburb in  Dublin.


According to the last census returns, Cavan has a population of 76,000.
According to local garda sources, the K district, covering Finglas, Cabra and Blanchardstown has roughly the same amount.
The Cavan GAA site says the number of clubs in Cavan is 41.
The number of clubs in Finglas is one.
There is a slight overlap with St Brigid’s in Castleknock but to all intents and purposes, Erin’s Isle is the only GAA club that matters in Finglas. (There is another small junior club, St Joseph’s,and there is the Pavee Gaels club that caters exclusively for the Travelling community.


So one club in Finglas compared to 41 in Cavan.


In fairness to Isles, the club has good contacts with the Primary schools in the area and draws all its juvenile members from those schools but in recent times the number of males teaching at this level is dropping sharply and so is the commitment to Gaelic games.
Isles only gets a small percentage of potential juvenile players in its catchment area and the vast majority of those who join will either leave as they get older or are dropped due to a shortage of teams as the age level increases.
Soccer, by comparison, has Tolka Rovers, roughly equal in size to Isles and there are (at least) 14 other clubs in the general Finglas area.
No problem guessing what the dominant sport in this area is.
I have had associations with Isles going back many years and I have nothing but praise for their underage structures and the volunteers who look after teams but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary public and there are many other clubs in Isles’ position throughout County Dublin.

St Josephs and Pavee have no association with Finlgas. They are based in North Inner City and Traveller Pavee play home games in St Vincents school in Glasnevin. Erins Isle are losing a lot of players in feeder schools to Na Fianna and Ballymun. A lot of their players from 1998 team that got to club final moved onto rival club or down the country.

My club in Westmeath are lucky enough to have one of them. Doing huge work with our underage.

Which player is that?

shark

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #200 on: November 17, 2016, 04:09:45 PM »
Good to see all that money going so well on game promotion and development of players

http://otoolesgac.ie/2016/11/07/senior-hurlers-wanted/

then as someone stated perhaps that money is only about developing elite players and not keeping kids in the game.

That advert is more akin to Senior Rugby than GAA.
That’s very true and it’s disappointing to say the least, that the CC and the Dublin CB haven’t recognised the fact.
I’m not being anti-Dub here but there are facts that shouldn’t be ignored. The superclub system that operates widely in Dublin is great for coaching elite players and bringing them through to senior level but this “success” comes at a hefty price.
Just compare County Cavan with Finglas, a suburb in  Dublin.


According to the last census returns, Cavan has a population of 76,000.
According to local garda sources, the K district, covering Finglas, Cabra and Blanchardstown has roughly the same amount.
The Cavan GAA site says the number of clubs in Cavan is 41.
The number of clubs in Finglas is one.
There is a slight overlap with St Brigid’s in Castleknock but to all intents and purposes, Erin’s Isle is the only GAA club that matters in Finglas. (There is another small junior club, St Joseph’s,and there is the Pavee Gaels club that caters exclusively for the Travelling community.


So one club in Finglas compared to 41 in Cavan.


In fairness to Isles, the club has good contacts with the Primary schools in the area and draws all its juvenile members from those schools but in recent times the number of males teaching at this level is dropping sharply and so is the commitment to Gaelic games.
Isles only gets a small percentage of potential juvenile players in its catchment area and the vast majority of those who join will either leave as they get older or are dropped due to a shortage of teams as the age level increases.
Soccer, by comparison, has Tolka Rovers, roughly equal in size to Isles and there are (at least) 14 other clubs in the general Finglas area.
No problem guessing what the dominant sport in this area is.
I have had associations with Isles going back many years and I have nothing but praise for their underage structures and the volunteers who look after teams but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary public and there are many other clubs in Isles’ position throughout County Dublin.

St Josephs and Pavee have no association with Finlgas. They are based in North Inner City and Traveller Pavee play home games in St Vincents school in Glasnevin. Erins Isle are losing a lot of players in feeder schools to Na Fianna and Ballymun. A lot of their players from 1998 team that got to club final moved onto rival club or down the country.

My club in Westmeath are lucky enough to have one of them. Doing huge work with our underage.

Which player is that?

Robbie Boyle.

Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #201 on: November 17, 2016, 04:13:03 PM »
He played in Meath for a few years with Simonstown Gaels. Wayne McCarthy another Isles man played there too.

Lar Naparka

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #202 on: November 17, 2016, 07:30:54 PM »
Good to see all that money going so well on game promotion and development of players

http://otoolesgac.ie/2016/11/07/senior-hurlers-wanted/

then as someone stated perhaps that money is only about developing elite players and not keeping kids in the game.

That advert is more akin to Senior Rugby than GAA.
That’s very true and it’s disappointing to say the least, that the CC and the Dublin CB haven’t recognised the fact.
I’m not being anti-Dub here but there are facts that shouldn’t be ignored. The superclub system that operates widely in Dublin is great for coaching elite players and bringing them through to senior level but this “success” comes at a hefty price.
Just compare County Cavan with Finglas, a suburb in  Dublin.


According to the last census returns, Cavan has a population of 76,000.
According to local garda sources, the K district, covering Finglas, Cabra and Blanchardstown has roughly the same amount.
The Cavan GAA site says the number of clubs in Cavan is 41.
The number of clubs in Finglas is one.
There is a slight overlap with St Brigid’s in Castleknock but to all intents and purposes, Erin’s Isle is the only GAA club that matters in Finglas. (There is another small junior club, St Joseph’s,and there is the Pavee Gaels club that caters exclusively for the Travelling community.


So one club in Finglas compared to 41 in Cavan.


In fairness to Isles, the club has good contacts with the Primary schools in the area and draws all its juvenile members from those schools but in recent times the number of males teaching at this level is dropping sharply and so is the commitment to Gaelic games.
Isles only gets a small percentage of potential juvenile players in its catchment area and the vast majority of those who join will either leave as they get older or are dropped due to a shortage of teams as the age level increases.
Soccer, by comparison, has Tolka Rovers, roughly equal in size to Isles and there are (at least) 14 other clubs in the general Finglas area.
No problem guessing what the dominant sport in this area is.
I have had associations with Isles going back many years and I have nothing but praise for their underage structures and the volunteers who look after teams but they are not winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary public and there are many other clubs in Isles’ position throughout County Dublin.

St Josephs and Pavee have no association with Finlgas. They are based in North Inner City and Traveller Pavee play home games in St Vincents school in Glasnevin. Erins Isle are losing a lot of players in feeder schools to Na Fianna and Ballymun. A lot of their players from 1998 team that got to club final moved onto rival club or down the country.
I know next to nothing about St. Josephs but since I was told that a couple of former pupils were playing with them I assumed it had a Finglas connection. The Pavee club has no connection with the general community in Finglas but draws a lot of its members from the tigíns on Cappagh Road.
I can understand that Isles could be losing youngsters from local schools as the numbers of male teachers in Primary Schools are steadily declining. I'd say more than 90% of children who join Gaelic clubs come via their school and I can see why Na Fianna and Ballymun would be looking further afield that they used to do.
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manfromdelmonte

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #203 on: November 17, 2016, 10:46:03 PM »
The GAA in Dublin needs to start setting up small junior clubs based on pitches in the public parks to provide semi-recreational games for players who don't want to commit to lots of training and to lads who drop out of the bigger clubs and want to do something to play and a social outlet



Gael85

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #204 on: November 18, 2016, 10:00:26 AM »
The GAA in Dublin needs to start setting up small junior clubs based on pitches in the public parks to provide semi-recreational games for players who don't want to commit to lots of training and to lads who drop out of the bigger clubs and want to do something to play and a social outlet

Most teams in Division 10 & 11 wouldn't train. Most big clubs would use their bottom team as social team. Others have team where lads just train together and play challenge games against other social teams. Round Towers Clondalkin have a gaelic for fathers team. This is most made up of parents from juvenile teams. They train twice a week and play challenge games once a month. The matches are non contact and 2 touches on ball.

Lar Naparka

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #205 on: November 18, 2016, 01:11:25 PM »
The GAA in Dublin needs to start setting up small junior clubs based on pitches in the public parks to provide semi-recreational games for players who don't want to commit to lots of training and to lads who drop out of the bigger clubs and want to do something to play and a social outlet
I think you are dead right; a change of approach is badly needed. Can’t see it happening however as there are entrenched interests standing in the way of progress. Established, large clubs wouldn’t tolerate any opposition even if it’s in the long-term interests of all.
As Hound says, Finglas is strong soccer territory but with one club in an area with over 70,000 people, something needs to be done  to raise the GAA’s profile in the region and I suppose in every other part of Dublin as well.
But a good majority of them will at least tolerate the existence of the GAA and lots of them would put on the Dub jersey and wind up on the Hill if the Dubs were playing. More lager and craic than a loyalty to the county team but not actively opposed to Gaelic games either. Mind you, many are anti but you’d still get a few Gaelic clubs if your proposal was adopted.
I taught in Finglas for many years and we used to run a Gaelic league every year coming up to the summer holidays.
Very few in the school were unwilling to play and the craic was brilliant. Then one year I had a brilliant sixth class, every single one in the classroom was a wee bit unstable and that included yours truly.
Kids decided that Gaelic was easy peasy and decided to challenge the rest of the senior classes in the school.  No problem to my littler warriors; they thrashed the pick of the other four classes.
Next up was Erin’s Isle where the manager of the A team was a colleague. We beat them well and to cap it all, the school principal turned up to cheer roar on my class. A Clanns man through and through which  meant naturally that I had to stop him abusing the ref and making a jackass of himself on the sideline.
The kids were giddy with excitement when he turned out to be human after all.
Next up was Whitehall Colmcilles where the A manager was also a good friend. At this stage most of the school kids and teachers had got in on the act and a few parents as well. It was a game played on the school pitch and the visitors were intimidated by the reception they got. We won this one as well. My little beauts weren’t too worried about the finer points of the game; they harried and tackled in droves and never let up from beginning to end and were never too fussy about the rules either, same as me.
There were four other Primary schools in the area and we challenged the school teams of all of them,. Two took up the challenge  and lost heavily and the other two chickened out.
Then we were up to the end of the school year and I was heartbroken when my kids left. They weren’t too happy either but life had to go on…
Now, the point I’m getting at is that only a handful joined Isles and they had all left by the time they had reached fifteen.
This is where i disagree with the superclub approach.
Schoolchildren tend to hang around with their mates and are reluctant to stray too far from their comfort zone. My Apaches loved the adventure and buzz that went with playing as a unit. I don’t think they were too worried about the type of game they played. It could have been Ludo for all they cared. A pat on the back from Sir and the obligatory choc ice was all it took to keep them revved up.
It was a bit like the soccer model.
The disused container and a lack of showers etc. wouldn’t have bothered anyone at all. They were playing with their mates and felt comfortable with all around them.The average schoolboy playing soccer will be playing with his pals, on a team managed buy someone’s da or uncle or elder brother and doesn’t have to go outside familiar territory unless being taken to a game by someone they know.
Even if the GAA followed a policy such as outlined above, there still would be considerable obstacles in the way but youi’d  get a helluva lot more than one club with a catchment area of 72/73,000.
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Croí na hÉireann

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #206 on: November 18, 2016, 02:57:13 PM »
Really enjoyed that story Lar. Sounds like your school was one of those schools on the perimeter of the Erin's Isle catchment area? This is what I was referring to earlier, if Erin's Isle want to get back to winning Dublin championships they need to be going around to the perimeter schools and get all football playing kids up to the club. A handful is no good as you illustrated.
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Lar Naparka

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #207 on: November 22, 2016, 10:11:21 PM »
Really enjoyed that story Lar. Sounds like your school was one of those schools on the perimeter of the Erin's Isle catchment area? This is what I was referring to earlier, if Erin's Isle want to get back to winning Dublin championships they need to be going around to the perimeter schools and get all football playing kids up to the club. A handful is no good as you illustrated.
Sorry, Croí, I had thought we’d given the thread a break as I’ve been AWOL for a few days.
However, your post deserves a reply as there are some issues about my relative success that are not immediately obvious to anyone not directly involved in juvenile football.
My school is one of the traditional ‘feeders’ to Isles. But it is about a mile and a half away and that means some kids might have to travel up to two miles  on foot or more on a Saturday. (NOt all dads have cars or would bother to drive and collect their children from any sort of club.)
That’s not far by country standards but it’s a different matter in suburban Dublin.
Unless there are at least four or five in a group, mammies might be reluctant to see their kids go so far and, anyway, a walk to and from a game of a mile or more would put many youngsters off.
Children at the age my little warriors were, are fairly territorial. They like hanging around with their mates and don’t mix easily with outsiders. Those going to play for Isles or any other big club will be playing with kids for other schools and there’s often a mutual animosity between them.
THey will also be managed by otherwise well-meaning individuals who are strangers to them and that can make some uneasy.
One might think that the presence of big, modern changing rooms with plenty of showers etc. would be an enticement to join. For many around this age, the opposite holds true. The noise and confusion and having to undress in front of strangers puts many off joining such a club.
Along with all of that, there are a number of families, a sizeable minority, that want nothing to do with Gaelic games. That could be historical antipathy, after all, this is The Pale but a lot of it is down to people's’ experience of been forced to play Gah at school when stickwork had nothing to do with Kilkenny.
My little bunnies, all 31 of them, felt comfortable with everyone around them. Same as in soccer, where the managers are often neighbours and the other kids live on the same road, they had only a prefab to change in and when playing at the school and had it to themselves also.
In light of all of this, I think ‘delmonte’s proposal (above) is an eminently sensible one.
A huge issue I have with the proposed drive in Dublin to recruit coaches to sharpen the skills of already existing players- it won’t, of itself, bring a single new recruit into a GAA club.
 It will help to widen the already considerable skills’ gap between Dublin and the chasing pack, but it won’t increase the percentage of young players who opt to continuing playing Gaelic football.
Make no mistake about it, Dub clubs may have literally hundreds of babysitting age haring around their playing fields but holding onto them is a different matter.
Once they are old enough to feel self-conscious or have to travel on their own by bus or Shank’s mare, many won’t go the distance.
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Croí na hÉireann

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #208 on: November 23, 2016, 10:40:23 AM »
Really enjoyed that story Lar. Sounds like your school was one of those schools on the perimeter of the Erin's Isle catchment area? This is what I was referring to earlier, if Erin's Isle want to get back to winning Dublin championships they need to be going around to the perimeter schools and get all football playing kids up to the club. A handful is no good as you illustrated.
Sorry, Croí, I had thought we’d given the thread a break as I’ve been AWOL for a few days.
However, your post deserves a reply as there are some issues about my relative success that are not immediately obvious to anyone not directly involved in juvenile football.
My school is one of the traditional ‘feeders’ to Isles. But it is about a mile and a half away and that means some kids might have to travel up to two miles  on foot or more on a Saturday. (NOt all dads have cars or would bother to drive and collect their children from any sort of club.)
That’s not far by country standards but it’s a different matter in suburban Dublin.
Unless there are at least four or five in a group, mammies might be reluctant to see their kids go so far and, anyway, a walk to and from a game of a mile or more would put many youngsters off.
Children at the age my little warriors were, are fairly territorial. They like hanging around with their mates and don’t mix easily with outsiders. Those going to play for Isles or any other big club will be playing with kids for other schools and there’s often a mutual animosity between them.
THey will also be managed by otherwise well-meaning individuals who are strangers to them and that can make some uneasy.
One might think that the presence of big, modern changing rooms with plenty of showers etc. would be an enticement to join. For many around this age, the opposite holds true. The noise and confusion and having to undress in front of strangers puts many off joining such a club.
Along with all of that, there are a number of families, a sizeable minority, that want nothing to do with Gaelic games. That could be historical antipathy, after all, this is The Pale but a lot of it is down to people's’ experience of been forced to play Gah at school when stickwork had nothing to do with Kilkenny.
My little bunnies, all 31 of them, felt comfortable with everyone around them. Same as in soccer, where the managers are often neighbours and the other kids live on the same road, they had only a prefab to change in and when playing at the school and had it to themselves also.
In light of all of this, I think ‘delmonte’s proposal (above) is an eminently sensible one.
A huge issue I have with the proposed drive in Dublin to recruit coaches to sharpen the skills of already existing players- it won’t, of itself, bring a single new recruit into a GAA club.
 It will help to widen the already considerable skills’ gap between Dublin and the chasing pack, but it won’t increase the percentage of young players who opt to continuing playing Gaelic football.
Make no mistake about it, Dub clubs may have literally hundreds of babysitting age haring around their playing fields but holding onto them is a different matter.
Once they are old enough to feel self-conscious or have to travel on their own by bus or Shank’s mare, many won’t go the distance.

There are certainly challenges there Lar in your example but they are not insurmountable. My kids school is 4.5km from the club but it's a feeder school where the GPO goes in once a week for an hour and it has a great record of feeding kids through to the club. Now I take your point that most of us are lucky enough to have cars to bring our kids up there on a Saturday morning but if anyone's stuck someone will pick them up and when they're old enough they can cycle. If you get them up there from the age of 4/5 then they will have more friends for life and not be landed into a strange dressing room when they are 10/11. So you'd need a co-ordinated approach with the schools and lifts but the key is getting them up as early an age as possible, if you leave it till 6th class then you've already lost the battle IMO>
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Lar Naparka

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Re: Money, Dublin and the GAA
« Reply #209 on: February 09, 2017, 07:56:17 PM »
I thought we had finished with this topic and that all to be said had been said and then along came Sean Moran...
This was his article in the Irish Times yesterday. (Wed.)
I think it's worth a read.


Seán Moran: Gaelic games' equality problem is getting worse
Yes, the GAA created a monster in Dublin, but did they have any other choice?


They might be trivial compared to events on a global scale but the GAA must face up to some ominous signs blowing around its own world. Equality is an ambivalent concept within organised sport, an activity that has always elevated the winner over the loser and within whose context “elite” is not generally considered a pejorative term.
As things stand, however, equality is becoming more and more of a problem for Gaelic games. A good deal of this has made itself prominent early in the year, as the GAA changes its reporting calendar to cater for annual Congress in February rather than April.
Two of the bigger issues to emerge from the last few weeks have been the club fixtures’ crisis and the ongoing balance of funding between Dublin and other counties.
Sifting through the annual report, financial report and motions list for Congress at the end of this month, a sense of unease is unavoidable despite another solid year financially and administratively.
The establishment of the Club Players Association drew further attention to the now chronic inequality between the preponderance of players whose activities keep the games alive in communities up and down the country and the intercounty panels who have become increasingly central to the GAA’s business model.
One of the reasons the round-robin proposal for the All-Ireland quarter-finals has been tabled is the sliding interest in the last eight in recent years and although the continuing box-office strength of the final stages of the championship has kept the revenues buoyant –partly thanks to a proliferation of replays (after 12 years without one, there arrived four in five seasons – it had taken 40 years for the previous four) – the gap between top counties and the chasing pack has been taking its toll.
Intrusion
Of course this disparity is not particularly new but whereas in the past the provincial and All-Ireland championships wended their way through the summer without causing too much intrusion and the gate receipts were modest if much appreciated, in recent years the intercounty competitions have grown in prominence and, above all, in financial value.
It’s just 20 years since the GAA began to add fixtures to the All-Ireland championships. For the last year of the sudden-death format, 1996, gate receipts for the season were £6 million, which adjusted for inflation comes in at about €11.5 million – just over a third of the figures for last year (€30 million).
These increased earnings have been reflected in the greatly enhanced profile of the intercounty championships. Further evidence of this can be seen in the figures that show gate receipts 20 years ago constituted a full 70 per cent of income, whereas the significantly higher receipts for the most recent year made up just 50 per cent.
This tells its own tale of greatly increased commercial and broadcasting activity.
The problem is that the more commercially adroit the association has become, the more its constituent parts and sponsorship, no less than sporting feats, is the preserve of winners.
On his RTÉ radio programme on Tuesday, Seán O’Rourke spoke to GAA broadcaster and journalist Damien Lawlor about the disparity between Dublin, with their sponsorship cache of nearly a million a year, and mid-ranking counties, who might take in €30,000.
Before commercialism entered the world of the GAA, such disparities couldn’t exist, even if different ones did, most obviously population.
Amateurism, then, actually becomes a problem. Why? Because the GAA is not essentially about regulating competing professional “franchises” but rather developing the games. Were it simply a professional sports organisation with a subsidiary development remit, players could go to the highest bidder and would only have to play at intercounty level – at a stroke relieving fixtures’ congestion.
Clearly there’s also a downside. Discarding amateurism could well end up in insufficient revenue to keep the show on the road and there would also be risk in the extent to which the public and more importantly volunteers would lose interest in an activity which had effectively cut the umbilical cord between players and community.
Slipstream
But the downside at present is that the big, traditional counties can deepen the division between themselves and others because of advantages that didn’t seem so pronounced 100 years ago, when even if Dublin had established a firm hold on football with 11 of the first 29 All-Irelands there was still space in their slipstream for other Leinster counties – Wexford, Kildare and Louth – to win titles as well.
These days both GAA director of finance Tom Ryan and Croke Park Stadium director Peter McKenna have both lamented the scorched earth of the Leinster football championship and its impact on revenues.
It is sometimes argued that the GAA have created a monster with the rise of Dublin but what else could they have done?
The biggest population centre in the State had always been challenging territory for the GAA and the decision over 15 years to pump sustained funds into the county has been a success. By taking seriously the need to engage in what had been an inadequately developed region, the GAA has ended up with a county which has improved that engagement to the extent that it has become a dominant competitive presence.
Act in an attempt to level the playing field competitively and there is the danger of undermining the spread of Gaelic games in the capital. Dublin chief executive John Costello argued the point in his annual report.
“Put bluntly, extra funding for other counties should not come at the direct expense of Dublin’s games development initiatives. Bleed that well dry and it won’t be long before soccer and rugby make inroads back into terrain that Dublin GAA has fought, tooth and nail, to colonise in the first place.”
There are no obvious answers, apart from tearing up traditional structures and risking local attachments and loyalties fostered over more than a century.
 Put another way, no easy answers.

Nil Carborundum Illegitemi