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Dublin County Board plans new 25,000 capacity ground


THE Dublin County Board wants to build a 25,000-capacity stadium on the outskirts of the city by 2017.

And Dublin officials are also intent on seeking discussions with the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) as well as a host of other state and local government bodies for help in dealing with infrastructural problems they envisage over the next six years.

The 2011-2017 Dublin GAA strategic plan, 'UnleashingThe Blue Wave', which was launched at Croke Park last night by County Board chairman Andy Kettle, GAA president Christy Cooney and Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar, aims to increase participation in Gaelic games in the capital by 10pc and hopes to generate 20pc additional revenue over the same period.

The plan calls for Dublin to be given provincial status in relation to funding and permanent representation by the Dublin chairman on the GAA's management committee.

And it aims to roll out a four-person professional commercial team to source new funding and revenues for Gaelic games in the capital. It's hoped to bring revenue streams from the current €5.2m per annum to €6.7m per annum by 2017.

One of the areas the plan suggests Dublin should focus in on is the loosening of sponsorship rules to allow for secondary and tertiary logos on playing gear.


The plan is adamant that Dublin should never be divided up for inter- county purposes and it is specific in its targets at inter-county level for the future.

Dublin, according to the authors of this report, should be aiming to win an All-Ireland senior football title every three years, an All-Ireland senior hurling title every five years, an All-Ireland minor football and minor hurling title every three years and an All-Ireland U-21 hurling and football title every five years.

The need for a mid-sized inter-county ground is now "acute", according to the report.

The Leinster Council recently ditched plans to develop a new stadium in the north-east of the province or in the commuter belt, while the grounds in Kildare (St Conleth's Park in Newbridge) and Meath (Pairc Tailteann in Navan) have recently had their capacities reduced on health and safety grounds.

That means there is no ground in Dublin or the surrounding counties capable of accommodating a mid-sized crowd.

The Dublin County Board believes it can fill that void by building a modern stadium with a capacity somewhere between those of Parnell Park (circa 10,000) and Croke Park (82,300).

The plan's authors claim: "At inter-county level, the lack of appropriate facilities is now acute. The development of Parnell Park in the early 1990s provided Dublin with a home venue, but it is clear that the current capacity restriction on Parnell Park to below 10,000 spectators and its tight confines renders it insufficient to meet the needs of successful Dublin inter-county teams.

"The infrastructure deficit also extends to a lack of a training academy and centres of excellence suitable to adequately cater for development squads at all age groups."

It's clear from the report that the county board sees itself engaged in a battle with Leinster Rugby.

"We can't copyright a colour but the subliminal exploitation of Dublin's unique sporting hue by our competitors has not gone unnoticed," the report reads.

"Mutual respect is essential in Irish sport, yet the appeal of a flourishing professional franchise is still a real challenge in the struggle for hearts and minds in Dublin, while the demographic shift continues to distort traditional values and interests.

"Our blue affords Dublin GAA the greatest potential to evolve as the flagship brand of commercial sport in Ireland. Successful implementation of our strategy will also reinforce the fact that Dublin is GAA country."

It's clear that the GAA in Dublin know their value when it comes to generating revenue for the association at national and provincial level and the plan openly questions, "why do senior Dublin administrators remain thin on the ground in Croke Park?"

"There is an interdependent relationship between the development of Gaelic games in Dublin and the future well-being of the GAA. The work of the capital's administrators is critical to the realisation of the GAA's national ambition, while the association's central and provincial hierarchies must recognise that the absence of a permanent Dublin presence at the respective top tables leaves perspectives dangerously incomplete."

The Dublin County Board's call for funding on a par with the provinces is based on the population it now serves and the acknowledgment that almost 30pc of country's children are now born in Dublin.

"It is a valid observation that the level of funding that has traditionally been allocated to Dublin is considerably less than would be warranted based on any population, activity or revenue analysis," reads the report.

"The Strategic Committee believes that there should be a mutual recognition of the interdependent relationship between Dublin's ambitions for the GAA in the capital city and the overall well-being of the association."

The establishment of 10 'Local Area Regional Plans' is aimed at keeping a closer eye on areas where Gaelic games is not penetrating sufficiently and this could lead to the establishment of new clubs, even in areas that are already served by one club.

However, any future plans to divide Dublin for inter-county purposes will be heavily resisted.

"Ambition must be sanity checked and guided by the principles of county identity. Our flagship teams -- our senior footballers and hurlers -- must never be divided."

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