Author Topic: What to do about Belfast  (Read 9821 times)

Betsy Gray

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What to do about Belfast
« on: December 28, 2020, 11:46:00 AM »
There has been a lot of talk in GAA circles recently about the dominance of Dublin and how a large reason for their success is simply a numbers game. Huge population leads to increased participation which leads to greater chances of success at elite level. There was clearly a huge emphasis placed on securing increased participation in the capital. A solution was proposed to solve that issue. While successful it has created a monster. A very successful monster.

Down currently has a massive participation problem on the County Down side of the River Lagan. Iím not just sure anyone realises it.

It is no secret that at present South Belfast has a rapidly growing nationalist population. For the sake of this thread I am talking only about the County Down side. The area from the Ormeau bridge to Carryduff and stretching eastwards towards Holywood.

For the past 10-15 years the streets around the ormeau road, Ravenhill Road, Rosetta, Four Winds has saw a huge increase in Nationalist population as people from across Ireland ( but mainly Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh) have made the area their home. It is well publicised that the local primary schools are now struggling to cope with the numbers. Bredagh has clearly benefited greatly from this increase in population given the sheer size of their current enrolled membership.

Of greater concern to those of us concerned with the fortunes of Down GAA is the number of people not currently participating in Gaelic games at any level having made the area their home.

The main outlook of the County Board, and the GAA generally, should be to maximise participation is Gaelic games. As we have seen with Dublin, if you have the numbers participating the excellence should naturally follow on. At present the lack of participation by a large portion of the population in South Belfast is the elephant sitting in the corner of the Down County Office.

In doing some very basic research around this point I came across a 2015 document published by the Down & Connor diocese. It gave the number of enrolled Catholics in each parish. Now I know this is a very crude way to measure The GAA supporting population but it was the only rough reference tool I could find.

Broadly speaking there is a club for every 1500-1800 registered population. For example,

Loughinisland - 1416
Lower Mourne (Glasdrumman and Ballymartin) - 2874
Kilcoo - 1066

The one that sticks out from the group is Downpatrick with a population of 8768 and only one club.

Looking then at Belfast the scale of the issue becomes clear.

Holy Rosary & St Bernadettes which is essentially Bredagh territory has a combined population of 11557. Drumbo and Carryduff has a population of 9690. The parishes which are now more or less serviced by the East Belfast GAA Club are St Matthews, St Colmcilles and St Anthonyís. THe combined registered population there is 13,709. Until this year there was no club to provide an outlet for participation in Gaelic games in the latter 3 parishes.

The above numbers would have an added warning in that those living in the more rural communities are much more likely to formally register with the parish than those moving to live in the city. From what I have garnered so far most of those usually donít register with the parish until children come along.

I would estimate that there are currently hundreds of young adults living in the south Belfast area who are currently not participating in Gaelic games at any level. A snapshot of the problem can be seen by the sheer number of people who transferred to the newly formed East Belfast club. I would be fairly certain that those outside Belfast would have laughed at the prospect of forming an East Belfast club until it was done.

It is correct that there are clubs in the area but the reality is that those clubs are now under subscribed. With the populations involved it is surely not acceptable that only 30 men take to the field each Friday night to play adult senior football with the same number of ladies taking to the field on a Saturday for the ladies senior league. Before someone says it, yes there are 2nds and 3rds but we all know itís just not the same.

This is the greatest problem currently facing the GAA in County Down. The question is, does anyone have any idea about how to go about starting to fix it.

Sandstorm

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2020, 12:18:49 PM »
Excellent post which certainly is thought and debate provoking g. Highlights a massive untapped potential in the county.

Mourne Rover

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2020, 01:28:50 PM »
It is true that the GAA still has the potential for considerable further development on the southern and eastern side of Belfast, but the massive efforts which have already gone into expanding the Bredagh, Carryduff and St Paul's clubs should also be acknowledged. The new East Belfast club is attracting further significant numbers, many of whom are not from a Catholic background. If figures per parish are going to be compared, it may be worth noting that Lower Mourne does not only include the Ballymartin and Glasdrumman clubs but also Longstone.

Mourne Red

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2020, 01:43:15 PM »
Might come across rude here but I don't mean to but what is the question of the post? Is it why aren't Down doing better with the population we have? Or is it about the lack of numbers of players within the club scene?

Fear Bun Na Sceilpe

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2020, 02:10:36 PM »
Surely this is Gaelfasts job partly

imtommygunn

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2020, 03:05:38 PM »
Many more clubs in Antrim than down Belfast wise. Carryduff not in Belfast but at present I think they are improving massively. Huge numbers, county final and now a few county players so on the up. Bredagh starting to make a dent in the hurling too and now senior in the football so definitely improving.

I am interested to see how st Brigids improve too they have been competing year in year out at underage but just havenít made any significant moves at senior level thus far.

general_lee

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2020, 03:49:41 PM »
How is any potential new club meant to muscle in on the two power houses that are Bredagh and Carryduff?. A look across the Lagan into west Belfast (a population greater than some counties) and theyíll tell you theyíve too many clubs. I say let east Belfast get established first

RadioGAAGAA

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2020, 07:52:32 PM »
The question is, does anyone have any idea about how to go about starting to fix it.

One possible approach would be for the Belfast clubs (and Carryduff) would to have a sub-board for themselves - giving us (i) north Down, (ii) east Down and (iii) south Down.

Currently 4 clubs:
Bredagh
Carryduff
East Belfast
St Pauls

At U-15 and below, the four could hold blitzes every weekend - giving kids regular consistent gametime without having to travel up to an hour and a half down the road. Which places a massive burden on volunteer time, club finances or both.

Get player numbers up, player quality up and down the line, it may be that more clubs could be formed depending on catchments. That'd be something included in the north Down board's ongoing mission statement.
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RadioGAAGAA

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2020, 07:53:31 PM »
Many more clubs in Antrim than down Belfast wise.

Antrim are a f**king joke. Between rows of country vs. city and hurling vs. football - they are best left to do their own thing.
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6th sam

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2020, 07:59:16 PM »
Might come across rude here but I don't mean to but what is the question of the post? Is it why aren't Down doing better with the population we have? Or is it about the lack of numbers of players within the club scene?
One ultimately leads to the other. Does anyone know What percentage of Gaelfast budget and resources goes to Down?

Betsy Gray

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2020, 08:07:09 PM »
Might come across rude here but I don't mean to but what is the question of the post? Is it why aren't Down doing better with the population we have? Or is it about the lack of numbers of players within the club scene?

Sorry if I didnít make that clear Mourne Red. The point of the post relates to participation in Gaelic games generally in south & east Belfast. Of course it will feed into the potential quality of the Down senior teams but that would be a benefit to be reaped by the next generation of Down gaels. The issue for now is the significant amount of people living in these areas who are GAA people but are not currently involved.

The fact that East Belfast now have teams playing in all codes shows that the numbers are there. The East Belfast club have drawn their pool of players from people living in the area who were not involved with a club. None of the local existing clubs lost members to the new club. But for David McGreevy being brave enough to stick his hand up and start a new club the majority of those members would not be involved in GAA and quite possibly never would have been involved again in their lives.

I do not have any data to back it up but would hazard a guess that there would be 3/4 times the amount of unaffiliated players living in south Belfast as opposed to east Belfast. To answer one of the other posts, it wouldnít be muscling in on Bredagh and Carryduff. It would in fact be helping to share the burden of providing the outlet to participate in Gaelic games in the area.

The west Belfast argument set out above is irrelevant. In fact itís the opposite to the issue here. The playing population is falling in the west of the city simply because the west of the city is spreading outwards towards Lisburn and up the mountain. South Belfast has the opposite problem. It has a massively expanding Gaelic population with limited outlets for the provision of games.

The main aim of the original post was simply to generate a bit of discussion. There are a lot of ideas put forward on the ordinary thread about how to improve GAA within our county. Given that participation is key tapping into a ready made population should be high up the list of priorities.

imtommygunn

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2020, 08:55:20 PM »
Many more clubs in Antrim than down Belfast wise.

Antrim are a f**king joke. Between rows of country vs. city and hurling vs. football - they are best left to do their own thing.

[edit] I just realised this was in the down thread. Still a pig ignorant Iíll informed reply. Anyway as you were...

(Btw bredagh and carryduff making serious improvements. As per rest of Belfast though player retention key.)
« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 09:05:07 PM by imtommygunn »

marty34

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2020, 09:28:31 PM »
There has been a lot of talk in GAA circles recently about the dominance of Dublin and how a large reason for their success is simply a numbers game. Huge population leads to increased participation which leads to greater chances of success at elite level. There was clearly a huge emphasis placed on securing increased participation in the capital. A solution was proposed to solve that issue. While successful it has created a monster. A very successful monster.

Down currently has a massive participation problem on the County Down side of the River Lagan. Iím not just sure anyone realises it.

It is no secret that at present South Belfast has a rapidly growing nationalist population. For the sake of this thread I am talking only about the County Down side. The area from the Ormeau bridge to Carryduff and stretching eastwards towards Holywood.

For the past 10-15 years the streets around the ormeau road, Ravenhill Road, Rosetta, Four Winds has saw a huge increase in Nationalist population as people from across Ireland ( but mainly Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh) have made the area their home. It is well publicised that the local primary schools are now struggling to cope with the numbers. Bredagh has clearly benefited greatly from this increase in population given the sheer size of their current enrolled membership.

Of greater concern to those of us concerned with the fortunes of Down GAA is the number of people not currently participating in Gaelic games at any level having made the area their home.

The main outlook of the County Board, and the GAA generally, should be to maximise participation is Gaelic games. As we have seen with Dublin, if you have the numbers participating the excellence should naturally follow on. At present the lack of participation by a large portion of the population in South Belfast is the elephant sitting in the corner of the Down County Office.

In doing some very basic research around this point I came across a 2015 document published by the Down & Connor diocese. It gave the number of enrolled Catholics in each parish. Now I know this is a very crude way to measure The GAA supporting population but it was the only rough reference tool I could find.

Broadly speaking there is a club for every 1500-1800 registered population. For example,

Loughinisland - 1416
Lower Mourne (Glasdrumman and Ballymartin) - 2874
Kilcoo - 1066

The one that sticks out from the group is Downpatrick with a population of 8768 and only one club.

Looking then at Belfast the scale of the issue becomes clear.

Holy Rosary & St Bernadettes which is essentially Bredagh territory has a combined population of 11557. Drumbo and Carryduff has a population of 9690. The parishes which are now more or less serviced by the East Belfast GAA Club are St Matthews, St Colmcilles and St Anthonyís. THe combined registered population there is 13,709. Until this year there was no club to provide an outlet for participation in Gaelic games in the latter 3 parishes.

The above numbers would have an added warning in that those living in the more rural communities are much more likely to formally register with the parish than those moving to live in the city. From what I have garnered so far most of those usually donít register with the parish until children come along.

I would estimate that there are currently hundreds of young adults living in the south Belfast area who are currently not participating in Gaelic games at any level. A snapshot of the problem can be seen by the sheer number of people who transferred to the newly formed East Belfast club. I would be fairly certain that those outside Belfast would have laughed at the prospect of forming an East Belfast club until it was done.

It is correct that there are clubs in the area but the reality is that those clubs are now under subscribed. With the populations involved it is surely not acceptable that only 30 men take to the field each Friday night to play adult senior football with the same number of ladies taking to the field on a Saturday for the ladies senior league. Before someone says it, yes there are 2nds and 3rds but we all know itís just not the same.

This is the greatest problem currently facing the GAA in County Down. The question is, does anyone have any idea about how to go about starting to fix it.

Got post.  Would you suggest anything club in that area but where at?

I think, as someone else alluded to, that the other clubs in the area are just getting together now (with serious hard work) but where would it go.  I suppose you're correct to a point, in that planning in cities is very important as they spread out.

Isn't their a club in Holywood (or Hollywood??)? Is that part of that catchment area?

RadioGAAGAA

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2020, 09:35:56 PM »
Many more clubs in Antrim than down Belfast wise.

Antrim are a f**king joke. Between rows of country vs. city and hurling vs. football - they are best left to do their own thing.

[edit] I just realised this was in the down thread. Still a pig ignorant Iíll informed reply. Anyway as you were...

(Btw bredagh and carryduff making serious improvements. As per rest of Belfast though player retention key.)

I've played for clubs in both Down and Antrim.

Pig ignorant maybe, but its not an ill informed opinion.
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imtommygunn

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Re: What to do about Belfast
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2020, 09:44:02 PM »
I think it, now, is but no interest in derailing the thread.

Carryduff numbers are through the roof. How they build on last year will be interesting but they look to be on the up. Bredagh too - they look to have done it more through boys coming through the ranks than in previous times where it was a lot of guys from outside.

I am not convinced yet on east Belfast (but hope I am wrong). I think there is a good outlet for a club there but I guess remains to be seen whether they can build from the ground up or continually rely on imports though to begin with it has to be imports but the hope would be they start to help build from underage right through. If you look at st brigids who are to a degree a success(though still could be better) they just started from underage up then when the teams got to adult age or close started to enter in lower leagues. Dunno if that is better way to do it but good to see an outlet in east Belfast.