Sportsnewsireland has previously highlighted the issue of emigration affecting rural GAA clubs,and a new report has revealed that emigration in Kerry is seriously affecting the County’s ability to field teams at under-age level.
Wednesday’s Irish Examiner contains details of the findings which were reached by a sub-committee set up by the Kerry County Board.
The sub-committee found that 23 of the 76 Kerry clubs have an average of eight boys per class in their local primary schools. Eight of those 23 clubs have less than an average of five boys per class in their local primary schools.
Six of the clubs are located in South Kerry, an area which had previously produced a number of star footballers, such as Mick O’Connell and Maurice Fitzgerald.
At minor grade, less than four out of ten (37%) clubs in the county are able to field 15-a-side football teams this year. In 1998, 69% of clubs were able to put out a full team.
Joseph McCrohan, who chaired the sub-committee said: “We were asked by the Kerry County Board to look at this issue which has become more significant in the county in recent years.
“There is a definite problem there for small rural clubs in Kerry and this needs to be addressed. The number of young players coming through to senior teams is narrowing the whole time. The key reason for that is the lack of jobs out there and the emigration that is ensuing as a result of that.
“We have asked that job creation in rural parts of the county now become a priority for the county committee. For instance we’re suggesting that the county board, district boards and every club encourage GAA members to become members in local development organisations.
“If the situation worsens, it could have serious consequences for the Kerry senior teams down the line.
If you look at Kerry All-Ireland winning teams, it has been a common occurrence for some of the county’s best footballers to have come from small rural clubs, in areas in the south and north of the county
“But there is the prospect that will stop happening as these clubs won’t have the players to supply to county teams. The Kerry county teams would then largely be drawn from the urban areas in the county.”