JOE believes in Local: The importance of the club in the GAA
There is a saying, commonly used in GAA circles, that goes ‘the club comes first’. With thanks to SuperValu.
Now that might sound a little false or hollow when all of the attention is focussed on a county team in the build-up to an All-Ireland Final or a big game at Croke Park but one of the most admirable things about people involved in the GAA is that, by and large, they never forget where they came from.
It is why you will often hear players who have won everything possible in the inter-county arena, but who have also been privileged to win an All-Ireland or a county title with their club, say that it meant that little bit extra to win silverware alongside their friends, family and the people they have soldiered with ever since they picked up a Gaelic Football in the first place.
The likes of Ciaran McDonald, Colm Cooper and Oisin McConville, for example, have distinguished themselves for their respective counties in recent years but they also happen to belong to clubs like Crossmolina, Dr. Crokes and the Daddy of them all, Crossmaglen, who have enjoyed some big days out at club level over the years.
Does the fact that they’re not playing in front of big crowds and not playing in an elite inter-county competition affect their dedication to the cause? Not a bit of it. In fact, you could say they are even more committed at club level because their talent equates to greater responsibility and greater pressure when playing for their home towns and parishes.
Kildare’s Johnny Doyle is another good example. The man’s longevity at inter-county level is, quite frankly, ridiculous but although it is fairly well known that he hasn’t missed a championship game for Kildare since the year 2000, it should also be pointed out that he hasn’t missed a single championship game for his club, Allenwood, in the same period. That dedication, at a time when demands on inter-county players are greater than ever before, is something to be respected and admired.
While the names listed above are high profile examples of how dedicated GAA players are to their clubs, it is a theme continued through every level of the association.
From senior to Junior C, from players who will sacrifice their social lives, put up with fixture changes at short notice and train in often awful conditions from early in the year to the volunteers selling lotto tickets, bringing children to under-age games and putting in the hours behind the scenes, like the chap below from the Seir Kieran club in Offaly, who had a rather novel way of picking up the flags after a match.
GAA at inter-county level is watched, followed, analysed and scrutinised more than ever before these days, but no matter how big it might get, the club will be there in the background.
Without the club there would be no GAA. And that’s the way it should be.
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