herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

GAA club struggles to find players due to restrictions on new housing

St. Margaret's GAA club members; The Grasshoppers with their coachs, Gareth Hickey, James Hempenstall, Sean Kelly and Gareth Hickey.
St. Margaret's GAA club members; The Grasshoppers with their coachs, Gareth Hickey, James Hempenstall, Sean Kelly and Gareth Hickey.
St. Margaret's GAA club members; The Grasshoppers undergo their training.

A DUBLIN GAA club is struggling to attract members because of planning issues for new homes.

St Margaret’s GAA club is having to rely on parents driving up to half an hour to ensure the north county club can field GAA teams.

Club officials say planning restrictions have prevented families linked to St Margaret’s from securing housing and remaining in the area. At junior level, boys and girls are being placed together to fill a team.

St Margaret’s welfare officer for boys, Terri Shanahan, expressed her concerns to the Herald.

“You end up with not enough girls or boys to produce a team on its own,” Ms Shanahan said.

The planning restrictions have been in place for nearly 25 years because of proximity to Dublin airport and the N2, and depopulation has continually increased.

Playing numbers at adult level have dropped by 25pc in the past five years, according to coaching and development officer Finbarr Shanahan.

“We used to have three adult male teams, we now have two and we have only one adult ladies team. Up to five years ago, we had five or six ladies teams at any one time,” he said.

Juvenile chairman Paddy Finnegan told of the impact on older players.

“You can’t get planning permission. When players grow up and get married they have to move away. They can’t get a mortgage and buy locally. To continue playing with the team, they have to travel back. Many of our adult players are living as far away as Navan,” he added.

The club has previously met with Fingal County Council to try to get land rezoned and cater for adult players born in the area.

“We were turned down because we were told there were inadequate resources, that facilities weren’t there and that it was unsuitable for development,” Mr. Finnegan said.

Fingal County Counci’s next six-year Development Plan review will commence in March 2016. Residents can submit proposals for consideration.

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