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GAA Discussion / Sending hurls internationally through the post.
« on: August 28, 2021, 09:40:55 PM »
What’s the best way to send 2 adult hurls and 3 sliotars from Ireland to mainland Europe?

Dhl quoted me 178 euro for home collection and the nearest dhl service point is 30 Kms away

GAA Discussion / How is a fixed calendar for club possible?
« on: July 29, 2020, 12:25:14 PM »
The CPA want a fixed calendar for all club fixtures Nationwide. How is this possible considering Dublin/Kilkenny will always have a much longer Intercounty season than say.. Carlow?

Wrote a blog about this with the first few paragraphs below. You can read the rest here;

I crunched some numbers on the composition of the Gaelic Football all star teams between 2000-2019. Breaking that 20 year period into 4 lots of 5 years I found the following: Between 2000-2004 eighteen counties were represented across those five years. Between 2004-2009 it dropped to thirteen counties. Between 2010-2014 it dropped to eleven. For the past five years it dropped to eight.
The next five years look almost certain for Dublin to take up where they left off and Kerry will be their only serious rival. Another drop in county representation on the all star teams by the end of 2024 looks likely.

Since 1887 the GAA have administered over intercounty all Ireland finals every year. In terms of titles won; Kerry ran away with it (28% of All Irelands have been won by Kerry). Dublin are closing in on them but still eight titles off from catching up. Everyone else either had their own era or eras or never quite made the grade. What exactly is the next five years going to prove if it turns out how it looks presently? What will we learn from another five years that Dublin dominated with the odd Kerry all Ireland thrown in? We already know from the past 132 years of All Irelands that Kerry and Dublin were historically the two most formidable sides. What does it prove to see them continue telling us what we already know?

The intercounty system seems to have told us all it can. It will have ran its course if the next decade is a Dublin and Kerry carve-up. Its history has told Kildare and Mayo that their huge enthusiasm outweighed their talent and ability to win. It told Cork and Galway that they can expect a great title winning team every twenty years or so. It told Donegal, Tyrone and Armagh that patience and dedication allied with skill can be rewarded. Every county found their rung on the ladder and there is no practical reason to keep with an outdated system of county boundaries that are centuries old.

GAA Discussion / Why The GAA invest so much in Dublin
« on: July 31, 2019, 07:27:52 PM »
Wrote this recently here-

Basically it’s an original opinion on why the GAA invest so heavily in Dublin.

Over the past year the focus on Croke Park’s funding of Dublin’s games development project has ballooned into the biggest issue facing the association’s hierarchy. It’s begun to get ugly for the GAA’s president John Horan who, as a Dublin native, is facing accusations that he’s acting in Dublin’s interests above the GAA’s. Horan and other members of the hierarchy haven’t helped themselves by some of their claims when they talk to the media. The claims made last year by Tom Ryan (Director General of the GAA) that funding to Dublin was being reduced and recently by Horan that Dublin didn’t receive money from the Leinster provincial council were false when they said it or proved to be false almost immediately after.

The latest claim by John Horan on the funding figures is that he is going “to get someone to just have a look at it and analyse it”, all the while persistently defending the dispersal of the funds. This approach is going to further antagonize the increasing numbers who believe Dublin’s success is linked to the financial assistance it received.
As Dublin go for the five in the row, their dominance is being acclaimed but the dropping attendances at games suggest the reality that this Dublin team are close to unbeatable. This is leading people to see games against them as a write-off rather than a huge challenge. Dropping attendances means dropping revenue for Croke Park. So the question has to be asked; if the GAA’s revenue is dropping in the Dublin dominated era why is the hierarchy so protective of the funding remaining in place for Dublin?

The reasoning the GAA provide is to grow the game in Ireland’s largest urban centre by going into schools and clubs and provide them with basic coaching that gives the GAA a head-start on other rival sports in the heart’s and mind’s of Dublin’s pre-teens. Gaels outside Dublin with an axe to grind say these coaches allow Dublin to provide professional coaching to their most promising players. I’m not sure I buy either the GAA’s reasoning or those outside Dublin with complaints about the funding dichotomy.

The reason or at least my reasoning for the imbalanced funding is the level of return Dublin clubs get for the level of investment in GDO’s (Games Development Officers). To explain, lets look at the economics of a Dublin superclub. John Horan’s club Na Fianna to be exact. Na Fianna claim they have 4000 members and 400 of them are nursery members. This means they are aged between 5-7 years. Their parents pay 85 euro as the annual Nursery membership fee. So the maths on that is a total of 34000 euro is coming into Na Fianna’s coffers annually. A GDO’s salary would be a bit more than that i believe. Maybe coming in at under 40000 Euro. So Na Fianna are almost covering the entire cost of a GDO from the money coming in from 10% of their membership. That 10% of the membership only pay 85 euro in fees while the juveniles and adult playing members pay 155 euro and 265 euro respectively. And of course Na Fianna don’t have to pay the entire salary of the GDO. Na Fianna only cover half. Croke Park covers the other half.

The truth of the games development question I posed about why the GAA invest so much in Dublin is that the return is so lucrative. There are so many youngsters in Dublin clubs that can generate so much in income to Dublin GAA. It’s basically it’s own industry where the outlay for a GDO is covered many times over by the membership fees of Nursery and Juvenile members. The parents of these kids are used as cash machines to bankroll the club’s plans and expansions. That is why the GAA continued to pump money in to the Games Development funds for Dublin. Because the “resources” there in terms of children available to coach are so much greater than other parts of the country and that equals “Bank”. Other factors work in their favour such as they have a small network of clubs servicing huge populations as opposed to the situation in most of the rest of the country were there are more clubs for small clusters of populations.

The GAA won’t be forthcoming about this reasoning as the above paragraph isn’t very idealistic in a sporting sense and if it were known it wouldn’t appease the critics. However it does make sense from a purely economic viewpoint. The GAA for now have responded to calls for more equitable funding with the “East Leinster project”. This will invest 500,000 euro annually in much the same structures that were put in place in Dublin for the last fifteen years. It will focus on four counties; Kildare, Meath, Wicklow and Louth. This is been talked about as a way to bridge the gap between Dublin and the rest. Really I would imagine the aim is pretty much the same as in Dublin. It will focus on the big commuter belts with large populations and get these coaches to pay for themselves by the level of income they bring in from the Parents’ membership fees. It is less about developing players as about developing income sources. It is also worth mentioning that this isn’t a huge investment being made. 500k a year across 4 counties will pay for an extra 12 coaches (the money from the clubs will add a further 12) for as long as the project lasts. If the money rolls in like in Dublin perhaps the GAA will consider extending it. However the project has been knocked back in Newbridge where they are happy to proceed with their own structure of coaching with volunteers instead of professional coaches. 500,000 euro is not much when I’ve shown the kind of money that gets brought in from just one nursery of a Dublin Super club. There are at least another ten Dublin superclubs with memberships and revenue streams similar to Na Fianna.

Moving on, there is a an upshot from the above writing that I wish to dissect.

It’s now becoming almost fashionable to cite the development funds as the reason Dublin are so dominant/unbeatable. This, to me at least, is a huge misread of the development funds and their value and purpose. Of course they have a value all the way to the senior team but gradually there is a movement to say that these funds are the reason Dublin are dominating. I think this should be debunked as I don’t think a transposition of the funds to other Leinster counties would be that instrumental in closing the gap.
Up to 1990, Dublin were the second most successful county in Ireland at Gaelic Football. The second most successful by far. Between 1990 and 2016 Dublin’s population increased by 300,000 people according to national statistics. 300,000 is far more than, for instance, Meath’s and Kildare’s entire present population. A lot is made of Kildare’s and Meath’s population explosion in the last twenty years but when the entire populations of these counties is outstripped by just the population increase in that period in Dublin...well is it any wonder Dublin’s have a far better team than Kildare and Meath?

Population is often disregarded as not a creditable reason for Dublin’s current superiority but this again is a complete misread in my opinion. It is dismissed because Dublin always had the population advantage. It doesn’t factor in the statistic in the paragraph above showing that despite the population explosion in Meath and Kildare that Dublin added significantly more people. Crucially even that doesn’t factor in the socio-economic changes in the composition of Dublin’s population of the last thirty years. Of rural people, many of them sons and daughters of farmers, attending third level education there, taking jobs there, moving into the suburbs there. Bringing their traditions of Gaelic games with them. The shift from Gaelic Football being viewed as a “bogger” sport to being seen as part of the mainstream in the capital.

So what is the bigger factor in Dublin dominance? This enormous socio-economic shift and huge increase in population in a county that was already hugely successful or Dublin having seventy professional coaches going into clubs and schools since 2005? For me it’s a complete no contest.
The East Leinster project will generate revenue for clubs in the area in the large population belts just like it did in Dublin. But don’t expect it to magically close the gap with Dublin. This will be a far more difficult problem to resolve given the huge differentials I’ve highlighted in population.

Going back to the original point the idea that the professional coaches are the factor that created Dublin as the GAA’s Death Star is a far fetched one. It has been missed up to now the real purpose of these coaches is the enormous income they generate. I don’t think the Dublin project was ever even about creating adult club players. If it had been it would have really focused on starting new clubs as well as just coaching within existing clubs. There are so many club juvenile and nursery players going through the Dublin system that there probably wouldn’t be room for 20% of them were they to try to be senior players in the existing club network in the capital.

The Dublin project was about monetizing the incredible numbers of Dublin’s youth through the county’s underage club structure and using that money to make Dublin the base-rock of the GAA financially. The 18+ million euro in development funds Dublin have received since 2005 is definitely an eye bulging figure but it is largely a “McGuffin” for understanding why Dublin football is dominating. That dominance requires more subtle analysis of population shifts to Dublin’s suburbs back through the 1990’s and further.

General discussion / The ulster rugby trial
« on: February 01, 2018, 11:45:56 PM »
It was hijacking the rugby thread...

GAA Discussion / the future of the Intercounty game
« on: October 24, 2017, 08:15:01 PM »
wrote up something for my blog at
Feedback, criticism welcome...
The purpose of this blog is to take stock of where the GAA has come from, where it is and where it is going and the reasons for each. Ultimately I see GAA as becoming more and more like every other sport that is professional. It is really a companion piece to a blog i have done previously: .
What I see the GAA have presently is a product that is high-end entertainment at the elite of the elite level. At this level the sport is gaining appeal. The flip side is that where once the sport was appealing to a wider spread of counties now it is badly losing that appeal. The feeling of hope they once had of been able to upset the odds against more fancied teams has long since given way to an acceptance that they are there to make up the numbers. How the GAA should deal with this polarization of the intercounty food-chain and how they actually will is the interesting thing.
There has to be a realization from the GAA that the current state of play is unsustainable. Counties left in Dublin's wake will lose interest and this will eat into the GAA's bottom line as attendances drop. Even Dublin's fans will disappear until the semi final stage. Mayo are saving the GAA a lot of tougher questions right now by providing fantastic spectacles in all their games but particularly in their battles with the Dubs. But how long can they keep it going? Personally i would say Mayo might have one more year in them and that's dependent on been lucky with injuries which they have been incredibly lucky with ever since Andy Moran done his cruciate in the quarter final in 2012. Ideally the GAA need Mayo to finally lay the '51 curse to bed next year.
Anyone who honestly believes that 5 or 6 counties will catch up Dublin over the next 5 years and restore the normal order of what we expect is ..whatever the name for the exact opposite of a doom merchant. There is talk that funds need to be redistributed from Dublin to the other struggling counties to help them catchup and this is worthy of discussion and appraisal. In truth this talk is likely to be extremely fanciful. Increased development grants will help weaker counties but it's definitely not a quick fix.
Firstly I think what it will in effect mean is that the paid GAA coaches and development officers that are based currently in Dublin will have to be laid off and replaced by new coaches if the ones based in Dublin aren't willing to relocate. Then coaching structures have to be put in place with a lot of inexperienced newbie coaches. Then you got to hope the players are out there that can match what's coming out of Dublin. This would need to be seriously organized by an extremely smart national co-ordinator. And if the plan is a success it will take at least 5 years after the decision is taken for the fruit to ripen at intercounty level.
But will the hunger be there to weaken the brilliant structures Dublin have built? I don't think so. It would be a decision that would hurt the GAA hard. To build those structures that they have seen to be a runaway success and then tear them down. I think that will hurt the GAA a little too much. There's no halfway house as I see it given the advantages Dublin have, they have to be weakened or they will never be caught up by the pack.
So then if strengthening counties incrementally while weakening Dublin incrementally is difficult to implement what about weakening Dublin dramatically but not weakening their coaching structures? What about splitting Dublin?
The evolution of the argument of splitting Dublin has been satisfying for me to watch. Since about 2013 I argued a split was inevitable and had to take the brickbats that such a non-traditional view attracted. Now the merits of a split is been argued on the Sunday Game, Off the ball and in the papers. The counter arguments of Kerry and Kilkenny's dominance not causing pressure for them to split still prevail but that argument is watery. Even if I was still in favour of a split (which I am not) then it would still be too early. We need to see a notable drop in attendances and continued Dublin domination before a split could be considered. The arguments for the split have come from Colm o'Rourke and Ewan McKenna. I think Ewan's arguments have more merit but i wouldn't say that either are taking a long term view. O'Rourke's view basically is Dublin should be split because not enough Dubliners get the chance to play county football. Whether that is the actual reason I would be cynical about. In any case I don't think the GAA should be weakening its most box office team just so more lads get the chance to pull on a Dublin jersey. Intercounty is the elite competition and the aim should be the highest competitive level of competition. If we cannot have teams matching Dublin then yes I would say they should be split. I think we can have teams matching Dublin but it will take radical but not impossible steps.
The only way I see teams been able to compete with Dublin was outlined in the previously mentioned blog where I put out a radical proposal of amalgamating counties and professionalism. You heard it hear first is all I can say but I actually do believe its the best and most sustainable model but unlikely to be popular but that may change. There are plenty of good arguments against my proposal I accept. I am not oblivious to my proposal going against the ethos of the GAA. I guess my counter argument is that this is just how elite sport works in every country on earth apart from Ireland.
Honestly I believe competition with Dublin within the existing intercounty system is a lost cause. Ciaran Murphy of SecondCaptains recently published an article (án-murphy-you-do-not-level-the-playing-field-by-weakening-dublin-1.3228038) where he made the similar refrain of this system has been ok from the 1890's to the 1990's so why expect it to stop working now.
I think this argument really serves no purpose anymore and is a throwback to when GAA was truly amateur and could be considered largely a parochial sport. With the introduction of sports science in every intercounty squad, underage development squads, drug testing, warm weather training camps and massive backroom staffs one needs to consider GAA the way one would consider any professional sport. I will try to offer an example to illustrate this in a way I can be confident you haven't heard before.
Dublin is a city of about 1.4 million people and is competing with counties of around 100k - 200k people. Dublin as a city is on a very different level to the likes of Cork and Galway. Dublin has a population close to level with Milan and Munich and within sight of Barcelona. Milan, Munich and Barcelona have produced teams that have consistently dominated world soccer. I know of course those three cities can buy the best players from other teams so your first reaction would be; what is the point of a comparison with a team like Dublin that can't buy players? But my point is more about the market/fan base available to Barca, Milan, Munich and Dublin GAA within their own cities. This is the ultimate reason why those cities have the biggest football clubs in the world. The reason that great football clubs grew in those cities ultimately is because of the size of the city themselves. Dublin is in that same bracket and having a long term expectation of counties of 150k to 200k to compete with Dublin is not that different from expecting FC Brugge or FC Basle to compete with the biggest fish.
Another key event in the emergence of Dublin has been Croke Park. If you are expecting me to say that Dublin getting to play all their meaningful games at home is a key advantage; well yes it is but that is too obvious to discuss in an interesting way.
What I mean about Croke park is that it gave GAA and Dublin a theatre of dreams. A stage which offered a unique attraction like no other in Ireland. The redeveloped Croke Park ensured GAA was always going to be the biggest show in town as the appeal of playing out our tribal rivalries in such an amphitheater was such a draw. Of course Croke Park grew the sport in every county but Dublin were the most to benefit as they had the most untapped potential growth.
My own county, Kildare, has an apology of a stadium called St Conleth's Park in Newbridge. I wonder what would have been achieved since if during the boom years the Kildare county board would have had the foresight and financial resources to clinch a deal to sell their decrepit town centre stadium and move to a green field site outside the town with a modernly equipped 20k capacity. The Irish for a reason I can probably have a guess at have very little appreciation of the attractions of new modern Irish stadia until they are built. When Dublin were developing their plan for a new stadium at the Spawell with 25k capacity, the wise men of GAA Internet forums had their say. They wondered why Dublin would build a stadium that big since Parnell Park can’t attract 5,000 for a Dublin county final. The idea that the stadium itself was a big part of the attraction of attending never seems to occur to a lot of people in this country. Likewise many gaels were calling the new Pairc Ui Caoimh a “white elephant” during the redevelopment. It annoys me that so many in Ireland view GAA Stadia as there only to give you an acceptable view of the game and beyond that modern facilities are not important.
As you should now be able to appreciate I’m very non-traditional in my outlook on the future of GAA. I believe we are the slow road to a bigger elitism and inevitable professionalism. The GAA press corp led by Joe Brolly treat words like elitism like a dirty word. They are entitled to do that and readers are entitled to read and like it. I would just add the proviso that Joe Brolly has very rarely been correct about the predictions he makes in regards to the association. I have gone as far before in saying that Joe Brolly’s articles tell you nothing worthwhile knowing about the state of the elite intercounty game and I see nothing since to convince me otherwise.
I have very little respect for any of the GAA writers that have been in the firmament in the past 10 years. Only one (Ewan Mackenna) has consistently addressed the issue that pumping GAA resources/Government resources into one county that already was in the most advantageous position could only have one logical conclusion; Domination. If the press had made more noise about the imbalance in the funds going to Dublin in the late noughties; public pressure could have been applied to reverse decisions been taken that would completely alter the GAA landscape and force apathy on a large number of supporters in counties left to make up the numbers. It is not possible to know if the funding been cut to a normal level would have slowed down the runaway rate of Dublin progress. Perhaps Dublin would have been able to produce a level of success to dominate in any case with the existing advantages they had. But the GAA media largely acted like a spooked ostrich, put it’s collective head in the sand and made Dublin’s Domination a fait compli.

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