UK Forum

The Future Of London GAA After Covid-19

(Oldest Posts First)

As the coronavirus has grounded all major sporting organisations to halt it could be a good time for the GAA in London to take stock and plan ahead for the upcoming decade.
First off, it is good to see that the County Board has created a questionnaire which has been circulated around club committees and is being filtered down to playing members. Hopefully the responses from this will generate sustainable changes going forward.
However, it could also be a good time to propose what some may see as "radical changes" and what other would see as simply levelling the playing field. The main ethos of the GAA is to promote and facilitate the growth of our games to all.

The fairly straight forward proposals below could see more participation of our games in London and it would be good to get your views and opinions on it, because lets face it, we have little else to talk about at the moment!!!

1. Home and away games

In every other county in Ireland, home and away games provide the staple format for League fixtures. In some counties where teams only play once in the League, they alternate the home advantage from season to season.
However in London, this fundamental theory does not exist. Venues for fixtures seem to be drawn up on an ad hoc basis which invariably tends to favour the teams located in North London and more specifically, teams located West of East Acton.
Not to scapegoat any particular club, but in the 5 seasons that I have played GAA in London, we have yet to have played a home fixture against TCG and from looking at the Irish World on regular basis, I am yet to see an occasion where they have played a fixture outside of Greenford or Ruislip.
Obviously, there is a massive competitive advantage to playing the majority of your games at home. You are accurately familiar of the surroundings, you are likely to get a few friends and family out to support you and you can prepare much more thoroughly as your journey time is greatly reduced.
According to Wikipedia, The Metropolitan area of London comprises a total area of 8,382 square kilometres (3,236 sq mi) and has a population of 13,709,000. The commuter belt contains all urban areas within an approximate 40 mile (64 km) radius of Charing Cross.
For clubs such as Thomas McCurtains, Cú Chulainns, Dulwich Harps and Round Towers, a trip to Greenford or Ruislip on average can take anywhere between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.
It is difficult for players to rearrange work schedules to get out for midweek games and when they eventually finish the game, quite often they don't get home until after 11pm. To be expected to make this journey week in week out (sometimes with a weeks' notice of fixture release dates), with little or no corresponding fixtures for clubs in north London is beyond draining.
If the County board is genuine about growing the game in London, they seriously need to consider the redistribution of regular fixtures to ALL parts of the county. It is a sign of the times, that the four clubs mentioned above three of which are in the 1st division and the 4th (Dulwich Harps) narrowly missed out on promotion last season.
Gone are the days off the hegemony clubs in north London who are heavily reliant on the influx of Irish tradesmen who worked in the construction industry. The socio-economic change in the Irish immigrant over the last 15 years has seen more young professionals move to London who can afford to live closer to the city. This in turn has seen the rise of clubs such as Wandsworth Gaels, Eire Og, Fulham Irish etc.
This should be reflected in the long term planning of London GAA going forward over the next 10-15 years.

2. Lack of facilities
This will likely be the first defence raised by the County board as to why there hasn't been an equal distribution of fixtures. It is true that not all clubs mentioned above have full size playing facilities with adequate changing room facilities.
Obviously, it doesn't take a real estate expert to understand the land value cost in London is some of the most expensive in Western Europe. Having said that, there are pragmatic and realistic approaches that can be taken by clubs to secure playing pitches. For example, Thomas McCurtains have an arrangement with Goodmayes hospital, Dulwich Harps with Southwark Council, Round Towers a rugby club in Mitcham.
Clubs can circumvent land ownership issues by striking up arrangements with other local organisations or clubs. Indeed, the centre of excellence proposed by London GAA at TCG playing fields is to be granted planning permission on the premise of a 99 year lease from Ealing Council.
London GAA should be commended for the ambitious move to create a state of the art, flagship complex which will promote and facilitate playing excellence. However, one could argue that in its pursuit of excellence, they have lost sight of the fundamental objective of the GAA which is to promote participation.
The Centre of Excellence for London GAA is said to cost £4.7million. If this plan goes ahead, we will greater concentration of facilities in NW London which will be to the detriment of GAA participation in other areas of the County, particularly East and South East London.

The main lump sum said to be funding this project has come from the sale of the previous London GAA base in New Eltham in which the County Board was said to receive £5.5 million. It would be somewhat ironic, if clubs located in East and South East London did not see any of this money reinvested into their facilities to help promote the game in their areas.

https://www.theirishworld.com/tcg-submit-plans-for-4-7m-london-gaa-centre-of-excellence/

3. Lack of referees
With the lack of referees, it makes sense for games to be played in Greenford where there are two pitches and two referees could oversee potentially four games each in one particular day. Referees provide an invaluable service to our organisation and their importance should not be overlooked.
However, it is not the most desired role within the GAA and the County board needs to get creative to ensure we have a sustainable source of referees. One potential option would be simply to pay referees more for their time. This would likely bring forward more candidates. Another option would be to cluster games in certain areas of the city (not necessarily Greenford). For example, The County board could schedule three games in Peckham, Goodmayes or Mitcham on a Saturday afternoon. The club hosting the event could provide refreshments and it would help create a sense of community in other parts of London.
If clubs were given sufficient and prior notice of hosting the event, it could become a real success in generating club spirit and they could potentially run a fundraiser of the back of it.
To conclude, this is not a bashing exercise of clubs in northwest London or of the County board. However if London GAA is not assertive on this matter over the coming seasons, it could inadvertently create juggernaut out of TCG (if it hasn't already) which in turn will disenfranchise other parts of the county, resulting to a drop off and participation.
Club are not naive enough to think that there should be a fair distribution of wealth and facilities across the County. Northwest London is the traditional heartland of GAA and there has to be a base somewhere. However, whilst the finances and facilities cannot be distributed evenly, the fixtures and participation should and what better time for the County board to address this matter than now for the 2021 season.

SouthLDN_Spud_Murphy (UK) - Posts: 5 - 15/04/2020 13:08:19    2276027

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A very interesting topic with some good points raised. It is true that teams in South London do not receive a fair share of fixtures throughout the season. Even considering Peckham, which is 15 minutes to London Bridge, is probably the closest pitch to the centre of London. And I've never played a game there in my 7 years in London.

Knowing the scene in London well, one of the main reasons why a lot of top players decide to not play with the county is the prospect of having to travel to North West/West London for training 3-4 times a week from. A focus on having activity more central would unlock so much potential.

Your point about TCG is interesting. Given the facilities, the favouritism on fixtures and the fact that many of their players live reasonably close to the pitches, it would be surprising if they didn't win every competition every single season. And that's not having a pop at them as they are full of great Gaels who promote the game in the right way.

opinion1986 (Cork) - Posts: 5 - 15/04/2020 17:00:58    2276038

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you could definitely work on have the three teams in SE London having home games on the same day and having treble headers alternate between Mitcham and Peckham, you could maybe do likewise between NLS, McCurtains and Eire Og.

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 16/04/2020 09:57:12    2276089

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Replying To Rosineri1:  "you could definitely work on have the three teams in SE London having home games on the same day and having treble headers alternate between Mitcham and Peckham, you could maybe do likewise between NLS, McCurtains and Eire Og."
I wonder how the county board will manage this season if say we have a green light on organised sporting activities later this year.

The issue of lack of facilities will be exacerbated by the lack of floodlit facilities both for training and games.

WestAwake88 (Galway) - Posts: 52 - 06/05/2020 11:14:46    2277619

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any updates from the county board in regarding to plans for the year?

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 09/06/2020 09:48:14    2280154

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Replying To Rosineri1:  "any updates from the county board in regarding to plans for the year?"
am hearing games to commence in September, nothing definite yet tho.

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 07/07/2020 10:44:33    2283298

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Replying To Rosineri1:  "am hearing games to commence in September, nothing definite yet tho."
Heard the same from our chairman. Seem to suggest that it will be an 8 week season, I guess league and championship run off as one? (Talking football here)

WestAwake88 (Galway) - Posts: 52 - 07/07/2020 14:34:50    2283343

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Replying To WestAwake88:  "Heard the same from our chairman. Seem to suggest that it will be an 8 week season, I guess league and championship run off as one? (Talking football here)"
any word on clubs who will struggle due to players have opted to go back home, clubs who had been struggling may be pushed over the edge by this.

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 08/07/2020 13:22:54    2283469

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Replying To Rosineri1:  "any word on clubs who will struggle due to players have opted to go back home, clubs who had been struggling may be pushed over the edge by this."
Can well imagine that quite a few clubs will struggle.
Will be interesting to see what financial burden the county board will pass on to clubs - Some may choose not to field this year if the costs are too high.

WideBall1 (UK) - Posts: 97 - 08/07/2020 16:54:46    2283512

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I suppose we'll hear more in the next couple of weeks from provincial council on games now the government have said amateur sport can return?

WestAwake88 (Galway) - Posts: 52 - 10/07/2020 11:38:40    2283666

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Replying To WestAwake88:  "I suppose we'll hear more in the next couple of weeks from provincial council on games now the government have said amateur sport can return?"
Still no news as far as I know? Some clubs back training, others not. Some clubs have the underage back up and running, others not. Are we going to have a championship here? Will London be able to field a team if they are allowed in the Connacht Championship/Christy Ring?

Not sure who should be taking a lead on it, provincial council or London board but would be noce to know what's happening. To be fair though, maybe they are as in the dark as everyone else.

LondainBhoy (UK) - Posts: 27 - 29/07/2020 21:32:31    2285768

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Replying To LondainBhoy:  "Still no news as far as I know? Some clubs back training, others not. Some clubs have the underage back up and running, others not. Are we going to have a championship here? Will London be able to field a team if they are allowed in the Connacht Championship/Christy Ring?

Not sure who should be taking a lead on it, provincial council or London board but would be noce to know what's happening. To be fair though, maybe they are as in the dark as everyone else."
from what I am hearing its provincial that are handling. I believe they are having to get some info together to present to whoever gives them the all clear to commence games. No one seems to have any idea when games will be allowed to start back up. Surprised that some clubs are not back training yet.

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 30/07/2020 10:19:27    2285791

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Well fingers crossed they get the info together soon, wont be much chance of a championship of any kind once the evenings start drawing in. Would imagine a Championship could be run off fairly quickly, few weeks of straight knockout but can't really see it now to be honest.

I know of some clubs not back training, some back in sort of name only, not sure what to do contact wise, wondering if it's worth it etc. Don't think any of the Herts clubs are training at all,could be wrong there though.

Club I'm involved got the underage back at as soon as we were allowed, was great to see the kids back at it and running around, big numbers too. Parents, like myself, desperate to get their kids back active. Was a a good bit of work getting it up and running, forms etc but not as bad as we all thought.

LondainBhoy (UK) - Posts: 27 - 30/07/2020 12:05:17    2285816

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Think Eire Og Oxford are back training.

How many players have transferred back to their home clubs for this year? It's frustrating (although nobodys fault) seeing clubs playing back home yet we're in the dark here. We started training (non contact so a lot of running and bog standard ball drills) a few weeks back but got to admit, its hard to find the motivation when we havent a clue when we'll even be able to organise challenge games.

WestAwake88 (Galway) - Posts: 52 - 30/07/2020 15:14:43    2285853

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Replying To WestAwake88:  "Think Eire Og Oxford are back training.

How many players have transferred back to their home clubs for this year? It's frustrating (although nobodys fault) seeing clubs playing back home yet we're in the dark here. We started training (non contact so a lot of running and bog standard ball drills) a few weeks back but got to admit, its hard to find the motivation when we havent a clue when we'll even be able to organise challenge games."
That's it, will he hard to keep lads training if we don't know what will be happening. Like you said, no one's fault but would be good if we even had an indication that they will try and run a Championship. Good point re lads going back home, how many clubs would be able to field teams? Maybe alot of clubs would rather just gibe this year a mis altogether.

LondainBhoy (UK) - Posts: 27 - 30/07/2020 16:08:13    2285859

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Replying To LondainBhoy:  "That's it, will he hard to keep lads training if we don't know what will be happening. Like you said, no one's fault but would be good if we even had an indication that they will try and run a Championship. Good point re lads going back home, how many clubs would be able to field teams? Maybe alot of clubs would rather just gibe this year a mis altogether."
*give this year a miss

LondainBhoy (UK) - Posts: 27 - 30/07/2020 16:27:01    2285861

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Most clubs I am aware of have been training, guess for clubs who were already struggling, this year may be a write off. Know the London Ladies board are looking at starting comps if Sep if they get the go ahead, majority of clubs have confirmed they will be taking part.

Rosineri1 (UK) - Posts: 1910 - 31/07/2020 12:57:25    2285957

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