The whole development funding thing has been grabbed as the almighty cudgel to beat Dublin with but the reality is that it’s influence on the current team – and probably future teams – is minimal. However the anti-Dublin spin machine, through malevolent lying and gross distortion of facts has helped to paint a picture that is no nearer reality than the 300 lads who deliver meals to Dublin players each day.
The original idea behind games development funding was to increase participation rates for Gaelic Games among juveniles in Dublin and to bring the games to areas in the city and surrounds where the GAA had little or no penetration.
The perception now is that every club has one or two full time coaches who take all young players from 8-14, male and female, hurling and football, and spend hours every day coaching them into robots, some of whom will eventually make their way onto the great blue juggernaut of the future.
With this level of structure and coaching it is hardly surprising that Dublin are sweeping all before them at underage level. After all that is where this funding would be most manifest. The Dublin minor footballers won three All Irelands in six years between 1979 and 1984. The next success was 2012 – a mere 28 years later. But now thanks to the disproportionate funding they have won … eh nothing at national level since. They have won a Leinster in the last five years though thanks to the funding. Kildare have won three in that time. Oh and Dublin won the Gerry Reilly U16 tournament in 2013. But hey.
So what are these coaches doing for all this money?
The money is actually invested at nursery and juvenile level. It’s about participation, enjoyment and a fundamental introduction to Gaelic Games – not creating super teams. But without the nurseries and the massive voluntary structure as in every other county (parents, ex-players, etc) it would be a waste of time. The volunteers are still the pre-eminent and dominant coaching influence in these kids’ lives. And many of the kids are soon lost from the organisation to other sports and none – same as always and ever. GPOs/GDAs merely scratch the surface. They can not nor do not impact on club teams or on individual players in the manner that some would have the rest of Ireland believe. But sure it must be true.
Our population has always been greater than everywhere else. Though those actively involved in playing Gaelic Games would be far less percentage wise than many other areas of Ireland and nowhere near the 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 (take your pick) million we see bandied about.
I would love if people here could give a rough outline of what their GDO does in the club – how much time he/she might get to spend with any group, time with hurlers, girls, camogs, what ages and how often. What he/she does in the local schools etc. How does it compare with the volunteer effort in the club etc. At least we might get some idea of the truth.
The whole debate around development funding is fallacious and salacious. It has little or nothing to do with the current team.