Is rural depopulation slowing...

Football

Is rural depopulation slowing eroding the core of the GAA?


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Colm Keys and Kieran Shannon joined Joe for this week's edition of The Sunday Paper Review to look back at the big stories from the week.

A piece by Mick Foley in The Sunday Times caught the eye of the panel as he highlighted the consistently diminishing pool of players available to rural GAA clubs as more and more people gravitate towards urban dwellings.

Counties on the west coast of Ireland, namely Kerry, Mayo and Donegal, are the most likely to be affected going forward - despite their current strength at inter-county level.

"This is an on-going problem in Kerry," Keys told Joe, adding:  "And those statistics that Michael reveals that 13 clubs in the east Kerry region around Killarney recorded 1,000 children between under-nine and under-twelve but by comparison, the nine clubs that make up the south Kerry district have just 307.

"Rural depopulation in the GAA follows rural depopulation generally in society and it's a societal problem as much as the GAA's problem. Their bedrock was strong rural clubs and communities but just the erosion of population is having an effect where it's just inevitable that so many more clubs are going to have to merge over the next ten to twenty years.

"And, he mentions Mayo, Kerry and Donegal as three of the counties in the piece and ironically, at county level, they're probably three counties that have positioned themselves very, very well for a next strong decade in terms of the players that they have been able to produce.

"But it is a big problem in comparison when you take Dublin - how many clubs could be in Ballyboden St. Enda's for instance? You could divide that into possibly three clubs - Kilmacud Crokes the same. It's not going to happen because they like strength in numbers and it's run very well," he added.

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