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Super-club not only answer: GAA chief

CROKE PARK’S top paid official believes the best way of tackling the "urban challenge" in Dublin is through the creation of new GAA clubs.

Director-general Paraic Duffy (pictured left) points out that, despite Dublin’s football and hurling success last year, there are still “large tracts” of the capital without a significant GAA presence. At present, this gap in the market is being met by so-called super-clubs but Duffy believes there is a better way.

“The biggest challenge facing Dublin is that of creating new clubs,” he writes in his annual report. The growth in participation in Dublin has to date been met by the expansion of existing clubs, to the point that Dublin is now populated by several super-clubs alongside numerous other clubs that are struggling to provide adequately for a rapidly expanding membership.

“If the creation of new clubs is the optimum solution, a second solution would be the establishment of satellite teams that feed into already-established clubs. Creating a new club in the Dublin area is not easy, but we need to find long-term playing outlets for the thousands of children attending nurseries but who will disappear from our playing population once they enter their teens, for want of an outlet through which to play our games.”

Duffy praises the Dublin board’s recent strategic plan, Unleashing The Blue Wave, as an “impressive attempt” to address the above challenge, but he adds: “It is a task that cannot be met by Dublin alone.”

Meanwhile, Duffy describes the spate of disciplinary flashpoints in late 2011/early 2012 as “extremely disheartening”. He says the GAA should consider stricter penalties for certain serious infractions, adding that deliberate ‘off the ball’ blows inflicting a serious injury deserve more than a 16-week suspension – he suggests penalties of “up to 96 weeks”.