Laois captain John O’Loughlin believes Dublin’s €1.46m per annum games development grant should be spread evenly around the 12 Leinster counties.
As half of the province go into action in the first round of the provincial competition this weekend including Laois against Wexford on Saturday, O’Loughlin knows there is a gulf between Dublin and the rest of Leinster that the others can’t bridge.
A former games promotion officer with his club St Brigid’s in Dublin, O’Loughlin has seen first-hand just how much the capital benefit from the large sums they receive.
“Every club in Dublin has one, if not two full-time coaches, which is a huge resource to have that other counties don’t have.
“Financially and logistically, other counties can’t compete, which is an issue.
According to a recent report Dublin have received €16,612,847 in coaching and development grants in the past decade and a half while Laois have picked up €864,376.
O’Loughlin knows the feeling among counties is that funding has to be equalised, which the GAA have begun to work on, but he argues more has to be done as Dublin becomes self-sufficient.
“I think the general consensus out there is that it should be more of a level playing field. I think that’s been the general consensus for a number of years. It would be great if it was equalised but other counties don’t attract the sponsors Dublin do so it’s not as easy as doing all that.
“I would imagine now that Dublin GAA doesn’t need the money from the grants development scheme because they have built up such a model and fair play to them. They’ve capitalised on their success and their marketing ability and they have made the most of it.
“Wouldn’t it be great if some of the other counties got money from that development (pot) to try to level it out?”
The days of Laois challenging Dublin for Leinster honours seem a lifetime ago and they know they enter this Championship from a low standing. Their Division 4 title was their first piece of silverware in Croke Park since the 2003 provincial final and was 29-year-old O’Loughlin’s first win in GAA HQ.
“I think Ross (Munnelly) was the only one who had won a match previously in Croke Park. That’s what it says for this group of players.”
Laois lost Colm Murphy and Robbie Pigott to Boston for the summer but he bears no ill feeling towards the pair.
“With the new rule there, if you’re named in a championship panel you can’t go, which is unfortunate, but all the best to them, I hope they enjoy it and play for Laois in years to come.”
In John Sugrue, the players have the manager they want.
“The players respect him and he doesn’t complicate things. If you ask a lot of people about Laois the last few years they would say Laois probably didn’t play as a team but this year there is a bit of cohesion and teamwork and we’re hopefully beginning to see the results of that.”
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