Category: Football

FootballHurlingMark TownsendSportsTop Articles


The last 7 years has been the most successful period in history for Dublin GAA. Since Stephen Cluxton’s iconic match winning kick in the dying seconds of the 2011 All-Ireland final, the Jackeens have romped to 5 All-Ireland titles in 7 years. It’s been a glorious era for the capital city, and with the current side in line for a four in a row, that shows no signs of abating.

Ever since the issue of Dublin winning went from being an anomaly, to a formality, the question of why they’ve been so successful has been posed. Some state that it’s just a superbly talented, expertly managed team, that has reached its potential. Others believe that the county has been grossly aided by the powers that be in order to rise to the top.

For sure Dublin has received plenty of funding from the GAA and government, but has it been disproportionate? Well, let’s try and get a handle on these figures for a second. According to the last census completed in 2016 the population of Ireland is 4,761,865. The population of Northern Ireland meanwhile is believed to be around the 1.87 million mark. That gives a total population on the island of around 6.65 million.

The population of our country’s capital is about 1.35 million. It’s not an exact science, as there are any number of foreigners on this island who wouldn’t know what a hurl or O’Neill’s football is, and any number of Ulster unionists who would rather eat parts of their own anatomies than play our games, but given Dublin has roughly one quarter or one fifth of our population, you would expect the capital to get, I don’t know, maybe one quarter or one fifth of the funding then wouldn’t you? That’s where you’d be wrong though.

Last week the government revealed the 1,700 sporting projects that will benefit from a 56 million euro grant allocation under the sports capital programme ( It is of particular interest with regards to grants given to GAA clubs in Dublin.

The figures show that 10 Dublin GAA clubs got the maximum grant allocation of 150,000. Now how many other clubs across the rest of the country got the same amount? Given Dublin has around 20%-25% of the population you would expect to see maybe 30 other clubs get a similar amount? Or 40? No, it’s 1. Yes, you read that correctly, one club in the rest of the country, Sean O’Mahony’s in Louth, was given the highest grant available, while 10 clubs in Dublin were given it. So are the GAA saying that Dublin is ten times as important as the rest of the country COMBINED when it comes to GAA funding?

This comes on top of the GAA’s awarded grants, that also overwhelmingly favour Dublin. Last year the capital received 1,463,000 euro in games development funding. The next highest county is Cork with 249,000. Now Dublin’s population is around two and a half times the size of Cork. But does it necessarily need six times the amount of funding that Cork does? Particularly seeing as it’s thriving at national level anyway?

Now maybe Dublin would have been successful no matter what. Their huge population is always going to have an impact. Also, the Dublin county board, led by the likes of John Costelloe did a great job in the 00’s of making the GAA a more attractive proposition for children and the grassroots drive had a profound impact. But do we really need to put them on a pedestal over every other county in the country, including some of whom are struggling the most?

I’m not saying that it’s not important that the GAA is strong in the capital. I’m not saying that this isn’t a special Dublin team with some of the greatest players in the history of the game playing for them. But for anyone in the city thinking that “it’s a level playing field” they’re playing on, and they’re not getting any extra help from the government or sponsors to win, well, they’re deluding themselves.

According to a piece in the Irish independent released earlier this year, ( Dublin already have 14 official sponsors for their county teams covering topics from kit and hydration to Airline (and why a GAA team needs an airline partner, bar for expensive overseas training camps, is beyond me) At the other end of the scale we have the likes of Leitrim who are struggling to get 15,000 for a sponsorship deal. Now maybe given Leitrim’s population base they would never be able to compete anyway. But they sure as hell won’t be, if the cash is being injected the way it has been thus far.

And that’s just taking the county sides into consideration without mentioning anything that’s happening with clubs. Take the example of the Kilmacud Crokes hurling club recently. They had Ollie Baker, a highly prominent All-Ireland winning hurler with Clare in charge of them until a few weeks ago when Anthony Daly was announced as the new coach of the team. Now Anthony Daly is one of the most serious hurling men in the country. He did a great job managing the Dublin senior team for a few seasons. But is he really going to come all the way from West Clare each week to take charge of a Dublin club side? How is it possible for him to do that, unless there are some massive expenses being paid? And who is paying for those expenses?

It just leads into the belief that the money being pumped into the GAA in Dublin is totally disproportionate to everyone else. But where would that lead eventually? What’s to be gained if the funding eventually became so lop-sided towards Dublin that the capital were cruising to All-Irelands in both codes each year? Sure the games might be more popular than ever in the capital, but you could imagine viewers from the rest of the country switching off in their droves.

People complained when Kerry and Kilkenny stormed their way to All-Irelands, but at least then it was based on exceptional players, management and an incredible drive. With Dublin, sure there are top class players and manager, but it’s also to do with the size of the population and, most importantly, the GAA and government grants being stacked massively in their favour.

So what’s to be done about it? Well allocate the resources more evenly for one thing. Spend money on improving the levels of funding in the weaker counties, the Carlow’s, Wicklow’s, Longford’s and Leitrim’s of this world, before automatically pumping more and more money into Dublin. There may need to be a two tier championship in football down the line, considering Dublin’s population is around 40 or 50 times the size of Leitrim, that’s completely understandable. But if they’re already benefitting massively from playing size, you don’t need to massively overcompensate their levels of funding as well.

We know that the cost of land is much higher in Dublin than in anywhere else, anyone who is trying to rent a room in the city would know that, but why are the GAA and the government feeding the beast? Surely, given the limited land mass that is around Dublin anyway, they should be trying to build up other cities: Cork and the surrounding areas, Galway, Waterford. If you want Dublin to be successful, fine. But don’t complain if the rest of the country turns off while they do so.

You also have to question if there will be a backlash in Dublin from players who may be more than capable of getting a game with other teams across the country, but due to the excessive playing numbers in Dublin, have no hope of getting game time. There may have to be a parent or grandparent rule brought into the GAA to let players, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to play for their native club or county, get the time their efforts deserve from some other team.

Maybe I’m sounding a bit too much like Joe Brolly and Colm O’Rourke here and predicting a doomsday scenario where the GAA is just dominated by a few counties (well, one) but I’m starting to think that the old cranks may have a point. Perhaps this is all being a bit premature, and in future the level of success and funding across the organization will just even itself out. But if the funding continues in such a vein and in ten years time, Dublin are eating every other team in sight in both codes, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

FootballPodcastsSportssportsgirlsTop Articles

Living and working within the county a big part of Dublin’s success: McHugh

Donegal star Mark McHugh believes the biggest reason for Dublin’s success is the fact players live and work within the county. McHugh was talking on this week’s Super 8s Podcast about Dublin’s...

FootballPodcastsSportsSuper8s PodcastTop Articles

McHugh looking forward to new start under Bonner

Mark McHugh is looking forward to the new chapter in Donegal GAA under Declan Bonner. Bonner, a former All-Ireland winner in 1992 and county minor manager was named Donegal Senior boss back in September....

FootballSportsSuper8s PodcastTop Articles

McHugh couldn’t be happier winning County title with Kilcar

After a wait of 24 years Mark McHugh revealed on this week’s Super 8s Podcast how good it was for his club Kilcar  to win the Donegal County Championship. McHugh was an integral part of the team...

FootballHurlingMark TownsendSportsTop Articles

Is the Kilkenny four in a row underappreciated?

Nothing so infuriates the pub drinkers and twitter users of the world more than the question of greatness in sport. If you want to start an argument in a bar or on social media in the morning,...

FootballLatest NewsSportsTop Articles

Dillion’s departure a sad day for the GAA

Veteran Mayo forward Alan Dillon has announced his retirement from inter-county football. I’m not usually one for sympathy, as life will always bring setbacks and it’s how you react to them...

FootballSportsSuper8s Podcast

Super8s Podcast Episode 5: All Weekend Club Action Review

  Super8s Podcast host Doran Harte reviews last weekends club football action with Shane “Cake” Curran. A wide open championship now that former champs Dr Crokes have fallen at the...

Denis Bastick
FootballSportsSuper8s Podcast

“Denis Bastick was a piano lifter”… Sean óg O’Hailpin

  Denis Bastick retired from inter-county football at the weekend after hauling in 5 Celtic Crosses over a half dozen Leinster Titles and 4 National Leagues over a 18 year Dublin Football career. The...

FootballSuper8s Podcast

Clare Football is in a better place admits former keeper

  Recently retired Clare football goalkeeper Joe Hayes has been with the Banner through the good times and bad and admitted on this week’s Super 8’s podcast that they’re now in a better place....

FootballSuper8s Podcast

Hayes’ credits boss for Clare’s recent success

  Former Clare footballer Joe Hayes has credited Colm Collins for the change in the Banner Counties fortunes over the last few years. Collins has brought Clare from Division 4 to Division 2 and they...