Thursday 22 March 2018

Super-clubs playing key role in success at intercounty level

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy believes that the biggest challenge facing Dublin is that of creating new clubs to tackle the "large tracts" of the capital without a significant Gaelic games presence.

Duffy also seems to question the merits of the 'super-club' phenomenon, judging from the following statement 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."

The DG may well have a point from a wider games development perspective, but this shouldn't disguise the key contribution of the so-called super-clubs to the growth of football and hurling in the capital.

Put it this way: would Dublin have ended their Sam Maguire famine last September without them? Now there's a 64 million dollar question, and one you may struggle to answer in the absence of a defined list of super-clubs.


But let's suppose that the shortlist incorporates Kilmacud, Ballyboden, St Brigid's and St Vincent's (the latter an ancient power that has moved with the times).

We won't include the likes of Ballymun Kickhams; or Parnell's, despite their overt ambitions to conquer the world; or St Oliver Plunkett's/ER, because even with the super-duper Brogans, they have yet to land a senior crown.

On that premise, Dublin's starting 15 against Kerry included a magnificent seven from the 'supers' -- Cian O'Sullivan, Rory O'Carroll and Kevin Nolan from Kilmacud's defensive conveyor belt, Ger Brennan and Diarmuid Connolly from Vincent's; Michael Darragh Macauley from Ballyboden; and Barry Cahill from Brigid's.

The same quartet of clubs have produced lots more current Sky Blue panellists, not to mention a raft of Dublin senior hurlers. The football team that blitzed Armagh last Sunday included Craig Dias from Crokes along with Michael Savage and Tomás Quinn from the Vins (we don't count Eamon Fennell as an original product of O'Toole's, in case you forgot!).

In summary, there is no doubt that learning the trade with these mini-industry operations has been good for the development of these players, who have been exposed to good coaching practice at an early age. And that, in turn, has been good for the Dubs.

FORGIVE us our cynicism, but can you blame us for suspecting that one of the motions on the GAA's Congress agenda in Portlaoise next month has been inspired by a certain 'wantaway striker' with a new-found devotion to the Lilywhite cause?

Here is the proposal: "A player shall have played in club championship with a club in a county in the previous or current year to be eligible to play in any inter-county competition with that county, save as provided for in Rules 6.6 and 6.7."

So in plain English, what does this mean? Curve Ball can offer the following entirely hypothetical scenario by way of explanation: if you happen to be a Breffni boy who played club championship football with, for example, Cavan Gaels in 2011, you can't then suddenly transform into a Kildare county footballer for the 2012 National Football League and Championship.

For the record, the motion has been tabled by Central Council (ie, the GAA hierarchy) and not by the Cavan County Board. We were tempted to call it the SJP (the 'P' standing for proposal) ... until copywright lawyers representing Sarah Jessica Parker warned us vehemently to the contrary.

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