The Munster Council have commenced a new initiative aimed at growing numbers in urban areas.
GAA chiefs are rolling out a scheme in secondary schools across the province in an effort to get more and more young teenagers playing gaelic games.
The project is the first step of a blueprint instigated by Munster Council chairman Robert Frost which aims to mine untapped potential within the province.
“One of the big challenges we face is the playing numbers in the urban areas. There are huge population areas around the province but we feel we’re not getting our fair share in terms of playing numbers,” said Mr Frost at the Bord Gáis Energy Munster GAA Awards in Killarney on Saturday night.
“I set up an Urban Committee to look into this area of concern and see how we can help to address this. One of the ideas they came back with is for us to go into secondary schools and talk to first and second year students about gaelic games. We did our first one in Cashel recently and it was very successful.
“Brendan Cummins gave the talk for about an hour or so about all that is good in the GAA. The hope is that some of the kids that hear these talks will then get involved with their local clubs in the near future.
“We are spreading this out around the province in the coming weeks and months and will be getting high profile players from past and present to talk to students.
“The hope then is that a lot of urban clubs, and clubs in their hinterland will benefit from new members.
“Even though it is early days it is something I am very excited about.”
Mr Frost admitted the challenge facing rural clubs with dwindling numbers will be another huge challenge for the council, and the GAA in general, in 2014.
“Rural clubs are decimated by emigration. There are great people in clubs trying to keep the show on the road but it is becoming harder and harder with fewer and fewer players in many of these areas. I predict we will see more and more amalgamations of clubs, especially at underage level in the years ahead. But it is up to us to try and work with them in terms of competition structures and the like.
“The most important thing for any GAA club is identity, that for me is vital. Even if clubs are forced to amalgamate I want to safeguard their identities.”
Mr Frost said the awards on Saturday night was bringing the curtain down on a ‘phenomenal year’ for the Munster Council.
“It has been an incredible year for hurling in particular. We had three Munster counties in the last four of the All-Ireland series and who will ever forget the incredible matches between Cork and Clare this year at Croke Park. “You also had Clare’s win in the All-Ireland U21 championship. Now the hope is that next year can be even better again.”
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