National Forum

Why are so many strong Gaelic football counties in decline?

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Replying To Furlong1949:  "So many times you hear this arguement that Meath and kildare should be doing better becuase of population growth. This is not correct. Its a GAA myth. Counties that have population growth around Dublin does not lead to sucess. One example and four words shows its doesnt : the county of Wicklow

The growth in population has had an negative effect. The counties identity is not as strong. And the people who have moved to the county either have no interest in Meath GAA as a whole or basically Dublin supporters who raise their kids to support and play for Dublin. People saying Kildare and Meath should be doing better with this population growth, it actually is the opposite effect on the ground. It has had a negative impact on football in both counties.

If populatuon growth led to football sucess. Why have Wicklow Louth and Antrim been largely unsucessful in the last 70 years?. All have big populations. Take Wicklow a big population. A strong club scene. Passionate gaa people. Yet have never won a leinster title and only won for the first time in Croker in the last 12 years. If population growth and a big population was the key to football sucess surely Wicklow blows that arguement out of the water. I know no team has won Sam with Pop below 10000 since Offaly in 82. So population is important. But some of the evidence is contradictory. Wicklow Meath Kildare and Louth have shown population growth on Dublins border does not lead to sucess for those bordering counties. Meath actually could become a football nursery for Dublin football. But the GAA don't seem to care. Look how they turn a blind eye to Antrim and Wicklows lack of sucess. I know Antrim half the population are not going to play GAA. But still a county like Antrim who was one of the early giants of Ulster football its lack of sucess is disappointing.

In Meath there has been massive change in Meath population. Which socially econmically and culturally has been great for Meath. But overall the movement of Dubs to Meath has had a negative impact on Meath GAA. So many of the Dublin parents even though their kids go to Meath schools and play with Meath clubs they make sure their kids support Dublin and want to play for Dublin. That's their right. We live in a free country In the latest census it was revealed that In Donegal 10% of the people in Donegal are not from Donegal. In Cork 15% of the people in Cork are not from Cork. In Meath 66% of the people in Meath are not from Meath.
Most are Dubs who either have no interest in gaa . The Dublin GAA followers in Meath would include many Dublin parents who grew up in 80s and 90s and the idea of their offspring supporting Meath ( the county of Mick Lyons and Graham Geraghty) is not going to happen. This is an issue. Meath and Kildare becoming football nursery's for Dublin. But sure the GAA don't care.
There has been a couple example of how migration/ population can effect GAA in a county. There is negative and positive.

Meath and Kildare are current negative. There is many examples now of players in Meath with players playing with Meaths schools and Meath clubs and then switching to Dublin at adult level. This is a growing thread and will continue. It more then likely will grow and grow as a feature of Meath GAA. Meath and Kildare football nursery's for Dublin is a growing features on the ground in gaa circles in both counties.

I know at least 4 Dublin parents in Meath. Children playing in Meath clubs. And their fathers told me. They will never support Meath. Always Dublin. And would never play for Meath. And two told me they would sure their kids will hate Meath football as much as he does himself. No problem. Nothing wrong with that. Free country.Those parents viewpoint would be the majority viewpoint.

A positive example of migration is the current Dublin team. So many of the current Dublin have country parents. Many have Donegal parents . What has happened is there was migration from rural Ireland in the 60s 70s 80s to Dublin. The current players parents came up from the country and passed their love of GAA onto their kids. They settled in suburbia middle class Dublin. Children went to college. And instead of turning to rugby they turned to GAA. Look how Dalkey won All.Irelans hurling club title. That is unimaginable 30 years ago. Bonos club gaa champions. So Dublin have benefited greatly from this.

People thought the migration to Meath from the west helped Meath become a football.sucess. This is not really true. Because the land commission, the moment the people from the west migrates to Meath and Kildare was happening in the 30s 40s 50s and 60s. At the samw time Meath won All Ireland in the 40s 50s and 60s. So that migration had no impact on that sucess. It was more the teams of the 80s and 90s had west of Ireland parents eg Robbie O Malley Mayo. But again it wasn't the real reason for Meaths sucess because Kildare also had massive migration from the west . There is a massive Galway community in Kildare. But Kildare had no sucess as Meath were enjoying huge sucess.

What the migration brought was a love of gaelic football. The west of Ireland is a true gaelic football heartlands. There is a bit of soccer rugby even hurling. But overall it is strong passionate gaelic football provience. Connacht people are passionate gaa followers . That love of gaelic football spread the gospel of football throughout parish's in Meath and Kildare."
Furlong1949, I really enjoy your posts, insightful and knowledgeable, your love of the GAA is apparent in every one of your posts. However, I don't mean to criticise for the sake of it, but where did you get the statistic that 66% of people living in Meath are not from Meath?

lilywhite1 (Kildare) - Posts: 2810 - 29/01/2018 01:22:14    2071728


When I started watching football in the early 1970's It was Offaly, Cork and Galway who were the stand out teams. Then for 10-12 years it was basically Kerry- Dublin and no one else got a look in. I wonder if we are in the same circle now. After this Kerry Dublin dominance which felt like it would last forever we had Meath, Cork, the Ulster teams, Galway and provincial winners like Leitrim, Clare, Kildare, Laois, Westmeath and Sligo. Hard to see past Dublin / Kerry this year but you have to hope someone will break through eventually. Sometimes success is not even acknowledged it is 10 years since Tyrone won an all-Ireland but in the meantime they have won 4 Ulster titles and lost 3 all-Ireland semi-finals. This is a county that had only 2 Ulster titles when I started watching. Mayo are even more amazing how they keep coming back for more but they have reached four finals in the last five years and I think this is a successful squad.

Byanthon (Tyrone) - Posts: 1507 - 29/01/2018 08:34:57    2071752


Replying To lilywhite1:  "Furlong1949, I really enjoy your posts, insightful and knowledgeable, your love of the GAA is apparent in every one of your posts. However, I don't mean to criticise for the sake of it, but where did you get the statistic that 66% of people living in Meath are not from Meath?"
I was actually wondering that myself, I know places like Ashbourne and rathoath have booming population due to commuter belt, also dulleek dunboyne , there was a interesting bit on program yesterday regarding stats about all areas. I must look it up when I get home

royaldunne (Meath) - Posts: 13938 - 29/01/2018 10:21:09    2071794


In no way can a population boom of a county be in anyway considered a hindrance. Talk like that is fanciful and ridiculous.

Just because Meath have gone backwards after having a growth in population does not mean that the 2 things are related.

Meath just haven't taken advantage, yet, of the growing numbers in their county. They will eventually.

Population isn't everything, as Wicklow prove, but it is an advantage as you have so much more room for growth in comparison to other counties. It isn't Wicklow's population that is holding them back. Nor is it Meath's population growth that has has held them back.

Come on, Meath have been given all these extra potential players! How can that be a bad thing. Even if they fail to utilise them and take advantage they still have all the people they had before!

MesAmis (Dublin) - Posts: 12115 - 29/01/2018 10:32:21    2071805


Population is crucial, but also a professional county board. Tradition and history is like a millstone around many county's necks.

A county needs a proper structure. The first part of this is ensuring it has the required coverage of clubs. Where population increases are relatively new you have to build from the ground up. Start clubs in areas that never had clubs. It is not easy and does not lead to overnight success. Where population decreases clubs need to be amalgamated. This can be extremely difficult due to local rivalries.

Once the above is in place a coordinated coaching approach. Coach the coaches I believe is best approach rather than having GAA employed coaches visiting schools a couple of times a year. use the employed coaches to try and improve the knowledge of the volunteers. That is much more powerful.

If the above is done all counties will reach a certain standard. It is very simple on paper but the opposition a local level can be vicious. We are a great country for never looking at the bigger picture.

Smaller counties
*like Leitrim will continue to suffer just by virtue of population/funding etc. The GAA need to address this separately. I am not sure what the rules for playing for counties other than where you live/were born are but maybe there should be a granny rule to allow players to play for their parents county (even if the granny rule was only allowed for designated counties). May not be the answer but something needs to be done.
*funding needs to be looked at. Smaller counties should get help with day to day expenses. You won't see the Leitrim lads swapping jerseys!

Equalize funding for all
Apart from the smaller counties funding for promotion/coaching needs to be addressed. Centrally this should be provided to counties based on a proper plan which is audited regularly. Centrally there should be a template for this which can be tweaked in individual counties. The funding should be on a per capita basis (looking at number of children in certain age categories). Counties should be getting the same per head amount. *One proviso - a lot of county boards have not got a clue. I would be very strict on what plans get funding and monitor every cent spent.

Mayonman (Galway) - Posts: 763 - 29/01/2018 10:40:09    2071808


So, lets throw the question out there, what can Meath county board do to try to fix this? If they were to receive a greater share of full time coaches, games development officers like Dublin have had in the last 10 years would that fix the problem? I don't think it would be that simple. I think it would be a great help but effectively the clubs and county board need to be aggressive in how they promote their games.

Are Meath clubs still a strong presence in their communities?
Do they make a big impact in the schools?
Could more be done to curb the Dublin influence on kids who have Dublin parents and attached to Dublin clubs?

The last one is especially tricky, kids want to support winners, its natural. Right now Dublin are the team to support and if your parents are from Dublin then it would be very hard to go against the grain in that house. You could apply the exact same question to any county who are currently struggling.

keithlemon (Australia) - Posts: 813 - 29/01/2018 10:41:50    2071811


Think we need another Celtic Tiger to break Dublins dominance! Other counties can then catch up.

keepherlow (Tyrone) - Posts: 127 - 29/01/2018 11:15:50    2071832


anyone that says population growth is a negative for meath is talking bull crap. im a meath man and followed meath since 1990. crazy talk. up until the 1930s when meath began to grow in populationwe were one of the smallest populated counties in ireland. this was because there were a large number of landed estates ran and owned by protestant ascendancy, absentee landlords etc. there were thousands of acres of land tie up in these estates that ran for miles and miles of square miles. thus nobody lived on them. so outside of a few small towns and villages the countryside was empty. Arthur Young was an agricultural advisor from britain in the 19th century and he speaks of walking through meath at the time and saying he spent a full day walking through the countryside with out meeting one person. all he seen were thousands of cattle.

the land commission was set up as much to break up these big estates in the 1920s and populate meath as it was used for taking excess overpopulation in the west aka congested districts board. once we started to gain the people from Mayo, Galway, Donegal in the 1930s the populatiion began to rise as did people staying in meath not having to emigrate because family farms were set up from the distibutiiion pf former landed estates.

Even though we gained large numbers of people in the 30s it was the next generation of these people that began to play for meath in the 50s and 60s. Mattie Kerrigan, Mick Mellet were two i know of. in the 1970s and 80s we had Robbie Omalley, Com Orourke,mick and padraig lyons and thier cousin liam harnan, liam hayes.

so it takes a generation or two to become meath fans and proper meath people. i know a lot of young lads who came to meath when they were 3 or 4 still support dublin but since being brought by clubs to meath games and begining to play for meath underage they now have a watery enough dublin intrest. once they represnt meath i think that changes there whole attitude. were in a great position as a county because unlike kildare we always are cocky maybe too much so at times but we do have a bit of an ego and have a swagger when we gain any bit of success. very much like galway and down. most meath teams no matter how bad they are in football always think they should beat most counties and always relish playing dublin. these are traits most counties would love to have.

dickie10 (UK) - Posts: 420 - 29/01/2018 11:47:13    2071856