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Endangered species: Age profile dropping a 'challenge' to GAA, reveals Dessie Farrell


Dessie Farrell speaking during the GPA Representative Summit 2014

Dessie Farrell speaking during the GPA Representative Summit 2014

Dessie Farrell speaking during the GPA Representative Summit 2014

DESSIE Farrell has identified the plummeting age profile of inter-county squads as "a significant challenge to the association."

Responding to the recent spate of high-profile retirements, most of whom from payers under the age of 32, Farrell pointed out: "there a lot of experience, a lot of talent and a lot of wisdom being lost to the games. Is that going to change? I don't necessarily think so."

Speaking at the launch of the Jim Madden leadership programme in Croke Park yesterday, Farrell expanded: "I think the challenge is, how do you bring those individuals back into the fold? I know they're playing with their clubs.


"But I think the development squad structure is the ideal place for these retired players to get back involved, give something back and feel fulfilled and have a sense of purpose in their own lives."

Unveiled yesterday in Croke Park, the Jim Madden programme will "develop a group of county players with the necessary skills, motivation and experience to become successful leaders in their community."

The venture is funded by Portroe native Michael Madden, chairman of Teneo Capital, a global financial consulting and private equity firm, apparently to the initial tune of $250,000 and named his father, Jim, "a tireless grassroots GAA and community activist in Tipperary."

"What is a fact," Farrell added, "is the age profile of the county players is getting younger and younger.

"I would imagine in my day, when I was playing, the average age was 26/27.

"Now the average age is 24 and it's reducing all the time.

"Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I don't know. But it's a significant challenge to the association. Because at this rate of going, it could be an Under 23 competition."

Farrell also backed Bernard Brogan's call this week for additional government investment in sport.


Speaking in his role as president of the Irish Federation of Sport, Brogan called for tax relief to the day-to-day spending of sporting bodies, beyond the current break on capital spending.

"There is a lot of short term thinking goes on around sport and it has been done traditionally in the lifetimes of various different governments going back through the history of the State," Farrell outlined.

"And the way I see it, an investment now is an investment in the future well-being of the country."

The GPA chief executive also pointed to the "Huge disconnect between what the department of health are suggesting be the recommended daily activity for our young kids and what the department of education are actually putting in place.

He added: "It's ridiculous that your child, be it a boy or girl, is lucky in this day and age if they're getting 20 or 30 minutes of physical activity in the school curriculum on a weekly basis.

"It should be as important as some of the other subjects that are being taught on a daily basis."