Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

'History is being lost when you amalgamate GAA clubs... but you have to struggle on'

Living in Rural Ireland Series

Rural clubs will make a plea to congress over young players (Stock picture)
Rural clubs will make a plea to congress over young players (Stock picture)

Cillian Sherlock 

John Halpin is involved in underage GAA in North Kerry where he has seen clubs forced to amalgamate due to player drain.

"I’m involved with the underage at under-14 level. We’re joined with two other clubs as an amalgamation of three clubs. You’d be talking 35 miles between these clubs. We’ve only 21 players from the three clubs playing under-14 level," John said.

He said Duagh, Knocknagoshel and Brosna GAA clubs have had to amalgamate to form a team at that age group but he said the problem of player drain and amalgamation has been seen at every level. 

"These clubs were surviving on their own 10 years ago. Going back to my own time 20 years ago every club would have its own full panel. The interest just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. There’s other games to be played and maybe its not taken as serious as it was. Its happening all over, south Kerry is maybe the worst," he added.

According to John, there are a number of factors which lead to the problem.

"Its probably decreasing population as people are moving to big towns and surrounding areas. Not a lot of people are living in rural areas and there's no housing being built in rural Ireland. Its definitely effecting clubs," John said.

"At senior level, it's work. Lads are going off to get work in Cork, Dublin and Galway. Instead of travelling up and down they may just give it up or join a different club. The problem is going to get worse and not it is not going to get better," he added.

"It;s jobs like. There are no factories. There's nothing like. They're all going to America and teaching abroad and I can't blame them. We've lost a good few fellas to teaching abroad in the Middle East," John said.

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He said the problem has had a major impact on teams.

"It has an effect because they're struggling to field a team. You'll see a lot of walkovers and failure to field due to a lack of numbers and player emigration," he added.

John feels the problem perpetuates itself and has a serious knock on effect.

"What's happening underage will have a knock on – it's only inevitable that clubs will have to join up or else there won't be any clubs at all," he said.

"Amalgamation is tough. History is being lost from jerseys to grounds and then clubs is another thing. You have to struggle on, nothing we can do," John added. 

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