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The GAA, the future and it’s choices and options

  • 24-10-2017 7:33pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    wrote up something for my blog at https://wordpress.com/post/veryintobloggingveryintonewmedia.wordpress.com/74

    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: https://veryintobloggingveryintonewmedia.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/gaelic-football-identifying-addressing-the-real-problems .
    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 (https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/ciarán-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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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,665 ✭✭✭ Bonniedog


    I would say that your county had far more money put into its county team when Dwyer was there than anyone else. Difference between Dublin and Kildare is that we don't survive on eventers.....


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,702 ✭✭✭ dirtyden


    Should we split Kilkenny in two also?
    Also the logic on resources is flawed. More people live in Dublin, there are more schools, clubs, facilities etc. Its only right that more money is spent there. Per capita I would imagine Dublin has much less investment than other counties.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,277 danganabu


    I assume the title of the thread was meant to be Gaelic Football, the future... because absolutely nothing in the thread relates to any other code and in fact it could be further restricted to just Senior Inter County Football.

    Or maybe the ''I'm sick of big bad Dublin winning all the trophies'' :D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    dirtyden wrote: »
    Should we split Kilkenny in two also?
    Also the logic on resources is flawed. More people live in Dublin, there are more schools, clubs, facilities etc. Its only right that more money is spent there. Per capita I would imagine Dublin has much less investment than other counties.

    Key word: imagine


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,702 ✭✭✭ dirtyden


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Key word: imagine

    What are you saying? Do you think Dublin per person gets more investment?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    dirtyden wrote: »
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Key word: imagine

    What are you saying? This is not your opinion?

    I’m saying you “imagine” that Dublin GAA get less per capita than other counties. You are free to imagine whatever you want but don’t think what you imagine is any kind of counter argument.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,702 ✭✭✭ dirtyden


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    I’m saying you “imagine” that Dublin GAA get less per capita than other counties. You are free to imagine whatever you want but don’t think what you imagine is any kind of counter argument.

    Dublin with over a quarter of the country’s population got 14% of the funding in 2016. How about that?


  • Registered Users Posts: 22,890 ✭✭✭✭ blanch152


    Another pointless Dublin are bad for the GAA thread. Seriously?

    The problem with all of these threads is that they only consider the county game. At the end of the day, the county game is not what the GAA are really about.

    The GAA is primarily about participation at local level. What the investment in Dublin for the last decade has been about is increasing participation at local level and among juveniles. This has been hugely successful. A side effect has been the success at inter-county level, but it has never been the main purpose of the investment.

    Those who are most against the investment in Dublin are those who are purely focussed on the inter-county game.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    dirtyden wrote: »
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    I’m saying you “imagine” that Dublin GAA get less per capita than other counties. You are free to imagine whatever you want but don’t think what you imagine is any kind of counter argument.

    Dublin with over a quarter of the country’s population got 14% of the funding in 2016. How about that?

    Yes, Dublin got no more help than any more county from central Council from 2005 to now. The GAA reports & news articles showing they did are all fake news. Please accept my apologies.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    blanch152 wrote: »
    Another pointless Dublin are bad for the GAA thread. Seriously?

    The problem with all of these threads is that they only consider the county game. At the end of the day, the county game is not what the GAA are really about.

    The GAA is primarily about participation at local level. What the investment in Dublin for the last decade has been about is increasing participation at local level and among juveniles. This has been hugely successful. A side effect has been the success at inter-county level, but it has never been the main purpose of the investment.

    Those who are most against the investment in Dublin are those who are purely focussed on the inter-county game.

    If you choose to read my pieces in full you should be able to see my focus is on how to make the intercounty elite game survive and prosper and is not focused on demonizing Dublin. Taking what I’ve wrote in full you should see my attention is on the future not dwelling overly on the past.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 22,890 ✭✭✭✭ blanch152


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    If you choose to read my pieces in full you should be able to see my focus is on how to make the intercounty elite game survive and prosper and is not focused on demonizing Dublin. Taking what I’ve wrote in full you should see my attention is on the future not dwelling overly on the past.


    Yes, but the basic assumption of your pieces is that the intercounty elite game is the most important part of the GAA. It simply isn't.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    dirtyden wrote: »
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    I’m saying you “imagine” that Dublin GAA get less per capita than other counties. You are free to imagine whatever you want but don’t think what you imagine is any kind of counter argument.

    Dublin with over a quarter of the country’s population got 14% of the funding in 2016. How about that?

    Yes, Dublin got no more help than any more county from central Council from 2005 to now. The GAA reports & news articles showing they did are all fake news. Please accept my apologies.

    And they didn’t get 1 million euro a year in tax payers money from the Irish sports council in the late noughties for at least 4years. That is also fake news.

    Look I don’t want a funding argument because we are past that in any sensible world.

    The theme of the blog and this thread will only be productive if we use it to examine the options we can take in the future if Dublin kill meaningful competition in GAA.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    blanch152 wrote: »
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    If you choose to read my pieces in full you should be able to see my focus is on how to make the intercounty elite game survive and prosper and is not focused on demonizing Dublin. Taking what I’ve wrote in full you should see my attention is on the future not dwelling overly on the past.


    Yes, but the basic assumption of your pieces is that the intercounty elite game is the most important part of the GAA. It simply isn't.

    It brings in about 60-70 million a year to the association and that money goes to clubs around the country so the intercounty game is far more important than you seem to think.

    If attendances drop due to a lack of competition, make no mistake, the gaa will do whatever it takes to get those people back as paying customers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,245 ✭✭✭ LeoB


    Excellent article blog.

    I think Dublin are not as far ahead as people think and over the last 3 years could have been beaten in the championship, some would say should have been beaten, the wins in these games were down to errors of the opposition . Dublin are mentally very strong and that is one key difference. They appear to be able stick to the 'process' when under pressure. This gave Dublin some victories (3) which distorts their success.

    What has happened in Dublin is about 25 years ago a decision was made to put emphasis on coaching but mainly on games promotion and development. It was about clubs going back to basics and their roots in schools. To me that has been key to where Dublin are now. People laughed at me 30 years ago going on a coaching course with Brian Talty, Brendan Harpur and Pat Daly. Are you mad sure there is no need for this stuff. It took time but in the next 10 years I saw clubs totally change. Coaching was the norm in Dublin before any other county in Ireland except the Ulster counties.

    Money was not the key factor. My club is far more important to me than my county. I was coaching basic skills about 4 evenings a week.We set basic standards for players The key tto this was getting people involved, especially former players. A lot of people bought into the coaching structures and you could see standards visibly improve on the sidlines. The focus was on developing club players, improving our weaker players to improve the standards. This in turn took pressure of the dependency stronger players as basically we got more players kicking the ball over the bar and making less errors as their basic skills were better.

    The next challenge was to get a manager who could identify the top 30 players who could play together, not necessarily the best 30 players. This is only happening now.

    Splitting Dublin in two I am not in favour of. We are working in a structure in place since 1890s. Changing the format might not help oter teams break through but possibly give the stronger teams more games like the back door. Colm O'Rourke I have heard talking of the split but his emphasis was getting more people playng at inter county level as some very good players were not getting a look in. So I would think more of an effort should be made to get players to line out with other counties. Like a draft of players.

    The changes I would make are,
    1 Two tier competition top 16 teams 4 groups of 4. Basically A and B Championship
    2 Dublin and Kerry enter 2 teams in football. Kilkenny, Galway Tipp and Cork 2 each in hurling
    3 Maximum of 30 players on county panel. Players come in if their is an injury
    4 Counties amalgamate.

    Pat Spillane made a point on TV back in 1992 when he said their are 15 players in every county who can do what Clare have just done, (beating Kerry) If the right people are charge and players buy in to it. I still believe that statement but it starts at club level. Money is not the answer but yes it helps People are the answer to develop GAA outside Dublin.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    Thanks for the compliment.

    If counties can compete regardless of population why do only countries of over 40 million people only win the World Cup?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    Also the last time a county from the bottom half of Irelands population table won Sam was 1982 so while spillanes quote might be a nice one to roll out, pesky facts don't back it up.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭ feargale


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Thanks for the compliment.

    If counties can compete regardless of population why do only countries of over 40 million people only win the World Cup?

    Uruguay 1930 (population then 1,734,000) and 1950 (population now 3,600,000.)

    Runners-up: Czechoslovakia 1934 and 1962, Hungary 1938 and 1954, Sweden 1958, Netherlands 1974, 1978 and 2010.
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Also the last time a county from the bottom half of Irelands population table won Sam was 1982 so while spillanes quote might be a nice one to roll out, pesky facts don't back it up.

    And Liam? KILKENNY!!!!! ( Clare and Offaly too. ) and Waterford in 2018!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,382 ✭✭✭ tritium


    feargale wrote: »
    Uruguay 1930 (population then 1,734,000) and 1950 (population now 3,600,000.)

    Runners-up: Czechoslovakia 1934 and 1962, Hungary 1938 and 1954, Sweden 1958, Netherlands 1974, 1978 and 2010.



    And Liam? KILKENNY!!!!! ( Clare and Offaly too. ) and Waterford in 2018!

    Argentina Im pretty sure was below 40m ehen they last won since in 2010 it was just over


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,702 ✭✭✭ dirtyden


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Thanks for the compliment.

    If counties can compete regardless of population why do only countries of over 40 million people only win the World Cup?

    By that logic Dublin should win everything and be beating Kilkenny in Leinster hurling finals by cricket scores.

    I will say one thing for you, you stick with your position in spite of facts.


  • Registered Users Posts: 956 ✭✭✭ OEP


    For those that say Dublin don't get more funding, look at the below link. This is per registered player and not per capita but still....
    https://www.balls.ie/gaa/gaa-investment-in-dublin-348120


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 8,724 ✭✭✭ nice_guy80


    there aren't enough hurling only clubs in Dublin


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 10,934 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Stoner


    nice_guy80 wrote:
    there aren't enough hurling only clubs in Dublin


    Do you think that would make a difference?

    Our club was a hurling only senior hurling club

    turns out it used to be a dual club but some blowins decided to discipline players that had a preference for football

    Anyway you could play football for one club and hurling for another once you had no football at your club.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    dirtyden wrote: »
    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Thanks for the compliment.

    If counties can compete regardless of population why do only countries of over 40 million people only win the World Cup?

    By that logic Dublin should win everything and be beating Kilkenny in Leinster hurling finals by cricket scores.

    I will say one thing for you, you stick with your position in spite of facts.

    No, my logic would state that Dublin’s county teams would improve greatly in the last 12years since the investment in Dublin went to a provincial level rather than a county.

    And that is exactly what we have seen at all levels.

    Again it’s up to you if you want to live in denial. I’m happiest to discuss the future of GAA. The funding argument is a pointless, dead duck.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,393 ✭✭✭ Jaden


    OEP wrote: »
    For those that say Dublin don't get more funding, look at the below link. This is per registered player and not per capita but still....
    https://www.balls.ie/gaa/gaa-investment-in-dublin-348120

    Who thinks Dublin don't get more funding than anyone else? No-one thinks that. The facts exist - it happens.

    But that's the way it should be.

    The link talks about development funding, ie money spent trying to get more people to play the national games. Not a red cent makes it to the budget of the Senior Inter County Team. If it did, the numbers might have some relevance, as it is, you may as well be comparing funding to the number of pubs in a county. Dublin Senior IC aren't even the biggest spenders - I believe that position is held by Mayo.

    Divide the amount spent by population, and all of a sudden it looks much more even - in the main. Factor in the percentage of each county population who don't play the game (what development funding is trying to address), and all of a sudden Dublin could be considered underfunded. Dublin's ratio of Registered players to population remains one of the lowest in the country, so it is rightly where development funding should be going.

    To come back to the point the OP is trying to make - Geography based team selection means that there will always be a skew in advantages for certain areas. The problem is that the GAA ethos is based on Geographical selection (literally parishes).

    A completely fair competition or a departure from location based teams. Pick One.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,665 ✭✭✭ Bonniedog


    Jaden wrote: »
    The problem is that the GAA ethos is based on Geographical selection (literally parishes).

    A completely fair competition or a departure from location based teams. Pick One.


    That's it. As long as county system is basis for the championship, then of course there will be imbalances. The notion that Leitrim not winning the All Ireland under the current regime is some sort of injustice is typical of wooly headed nonsense that governs lots of things in this country.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,958 Dots1982


    Jaden wrote: »
    OEP wrote: »
    A completely fair competition or a departure from location based teams. Pick One.

    Pick one?

    Don’t we have to pick both?

    A departure from location based teams would lead to a completely fair competition?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,393 ✭✭✭ Jaden


    Dots1982 wrote: »
    Jaden wrote: »

    Pick one?

    Don’t we have to pick both?

    A departure from location based teams would lead to a completely fair competition?


    Let me rephrase.

    * An always fair and even competition.
    * A competition (as-is) based on county boundaries (location based).

    Pick One.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,373 ✭✭✭ Duffy the Vampire Slayer


    People can point to Uruguay and the likes all they want but the fact is that the biggest country where soccer dominates is the country that has won more world cups than anywhere else.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,382 ✭✭✭ tritium


    People can point to Uruguay and the likes all they want but the fact is that the biggest country where soccer dominates is the country that has won more world cups than anywhere else.

    The bold bit is important. GAA doesn't dominate in the biggest county by population any more than soccer dominates in China.

    Its also worth pointing out that while they've won it more often than anyone else (i) thats relatively recent and (ii) they're not exactly dominant given the number of other countries who have won it and continue to do so and (iii) Nigeria, the country just behind them in population (about 190 million to Brazils 208 million also lists soccer as their national sport but has never won a world cup


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,665 ✭✭✭ Bonniedog


    There is also the historical fact that when the Catholic Church, the Home Rule Party and the Brits almost succeeded in destroying the GAA after the downfall of Parnell, only a small number of counties stood up to them.

    Guess which ones? Clues is they have over 70% of All Irelands in both games between them. Rest were like sheep being told what they could do on Sunday.


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