Posted by: John McGerr | April 16, 2009

125 Years


This year the GAA celebrates being 125 years old. In the case of our own Club we have no record of it going back that far, but it’s close, a report from 1891 from the Roscommon Herald about a game between the Rathowen Volunteers and the Mostrim Volunteers. The team names both refer to volunteers and volunteers have been key part of the organisation’s history. It’s also a part that’s under severe pressure these times.  Ovber the years, clubs like ours have scraped by, almost disappearing. In the fifties and sixties emigration took it’s toll and this is likely to happen again this year and maybe into the future. The problem now is that the financial requirements of a club are so much greater now. Once the hundred club draw(price one pound), the church gate collection and the home gate could keep the club ticking over. Now clubs need tens of thousands of Euro just to scrape by. Many clubs in this county had draws recently and many had to postpone the same draws, volunteers to sell tickets were in short supply and buyers had other financial worries on their minds. Quarter way in the GAA’s second century I wonder just what the future holds – will Clubs fold for lack of funds, volunteers? If players at county level seek greater rewards for playing will we see the club structure disappear? Will we be like the FAI, a few county teams that have the financial clout to attract the best players and the rest just surviving? You could argue that this is a rather exaggerated picture, but how many stadiums in Ireland are full for ordinary league matches? Long ford has a county pitch the match of anything in the country, yet it probably is only filled to capacity once or twice in a year. If the GAA hadn’t finally(and in my opinion long overdue) opened their  doors to Rugby and Soccer how often would their showpiece be filled to capacity, twice or three times and year? I read somewhere it makes a loss if there are less that thirty thousand people present, how many counties could attract that level of support? Take it down to the grassroots level. We’re a small county in every sense of the word. For a home match my club might attract fifty people to a senior league game yet according to the 2006 census there were fifteen hundred people in the parish – hard to believe we can’t get even two hundred of them to turn up to support their local club. Well, we’re celebrating anyway. We may not make it to the next milestone of one hundred and fifty years but that’s for the next generation to worry about isn’t it?

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