UK Forum

Development in London - a true representation?

(Oldest Posts First)

I was interested to read about Dulwich Harps underage success at the weekend on the back page of the Irish World and with their mens team struggling so badly this season I wanted to raise a few points to debate. I've been involved in promoting our games since I moved to this town some 19 years ago and my children 11, 9 and 5 have all become involved. I applaud the wonderful efforts by the coaches/parents of not just my club, but of all opposition clubs in promoting underage games here in London and with the pressures involved over here, this is far more difficult to do than it is back home and these efforts should be highlighted time and time again. The wonderful ABC tournament was testament to that and Lloyd Colfer and his team deserve credit for that.

However I have read, watched and listened to the constant stream of attention on Dulwich Harps promotion of Gaelic Games and their efforts in bringing children from non-Irish background into the sport. This is truly wonderful. But my question is, is this really an accurate reflection of underage GAA in London, or is it simply a campaign used to further the interests of a small minority. It is interesting:

- Dulwich have won numerous championships between under 12 and under 16 over the past 10 years, yet have never once fielded an under 18 or under 21 team during this time

- The majority of the players come from the same school and as such the coaches/teachers, have extra time with the players/students. The ordinary volunteer coaches simply do not have that.

- The facilities of an academy school are beyond the wildest dream of the clubs here in London, and with gaelic games on the curriculum, the resources simply dwarf those of other clubs.

- Over the period, Dulwich have not produced one player who has competed for London at U18/U21, Junior or Senior. If the drain stops at a certain level, then one needs to ask the question what is the point of putting in so much effort for such a short sighted gain?

- This leads me to think that once the players/students reach a post-school age of 16, their interest in our sport simply comes to an end. If this is the case, then this is a shame. For instance would Dulwich be able to field a team in the forthcoming home grown adult championship that is due to take place later in the year? I suspect not.

Perhaps this might read as resentment or even jealously, but my intention behind this is very much not, nor do I want to put the boot in - I only want to start healthy debate and shed light on the wonderful effort of the true picture of underage games here in London which I feel is slightly more accurate. When I see the likes of TCG (albeit with good facilities), Kierans, Heston, Round Towers, etc produce players worthy of competing at senior standard and representing their county with little to no infrastructure and resources behind their coaches, I stand and applaud them. Surely this is a more representative outlook on underage games here in our county and one that deserves far more attention and praise rather than an effort which is driven for a short period of time.

bigball1 (Tipperary) - Posts: 2 - 18/07/2014 11:40:58    1621014

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Bigball a very interesting post and yes it could be seen as someone having a slight dig at Dulwich but I don't think you are…. The objective of any underage team/set up has to be to try and develop kids to play the game in the future at an adult level. Now I'm not stupid enough to think that all kids will reach these levels or in deed want to play but if a few come through each year you are doing your job as a coach IMO.

Obviously the better we get at this here in England the more chance we have of creating home grown players playing at the top level for our clubs. I am a born Manc with Irish parents and nothing would give me more pride than to see a Lancashire team full of lads born in Manchester competing with the best that Ireland has to offer. (No disrespect to the Irish lads who come over by the way but I am sure they feel the same about their own local clubs and Counties from the areas they were born…) Some will of course adopt their Counties with great pride and if they have kids over here will probably have similar feelings as me I am sure as there own kids will become me in effect…

On Dulwich they are fantastic and the teams are a credit to their coaches and players but you are correct to ask why are we not seeing these lads now pulling on a shirt for London against Galway and Mayo etc?

The Academy you mentioned is clearly working very well at developing the kids maybe 1 of their people might explain why the lads are not feeding through to the Dulwich adult team?

I have watched Dulwich with interest for a number of years now and wondered when someone would ask this question. The London teams that go to Feilie have consistently performed really well for a few of years now and Dulwich have been the corner stone of all of these teams. Logic would say that some of these lads would be more than good enough to filter into senior panels now…

You are right also about how tough it is to develop the game over here in real terms. You want to try it up here, the clubs are really struggling to keep their underage going, and it's as bad as I have seen it. At least you guys are getting numbers still coming over from Ireland that is not really the case here. Clubs are struggling to get the coaches to run the teams which are key IMO. Irish communities are dwindling these days which will have an obvious effect on numbers but it seems especially in the coaching department. A tough road lies ahead; I hope that maybe the SkyTV deal might just help out a little. If a few English people see how good our games are they might just think I want a go at that, if not I dread to think where we will be in 10 years..:(

Mancirish (UK) - Posts: 2190 - 18/07/2014 15:45:46    1621204

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Bigball and Mancirish I'm also glad that you've brought this up. It is difficult to get the interest of young lads especially with the lure of other sports. And despite having a better structures in place compared to 15 or 20 years ago it is still difficult for clubs to keep the underage going without the sheer determination of a few good people in each club.

It's all well and good having the Sky Sport cameras coming down to Dulwich Harps or the newspapers covering their achievements, but I'm sure many (especially the Gaels outside of London like Manc Irish) would agree that this is painting an untrue reflection and is simply papering over the cracks. But sure it's great publicity for the teachers involved so 'why not' they must be saying.

fancyaride (Mayo) - Posts: 141 - 18/07/2014 17:49:30    1621257

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