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Sport, culture, history June 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Sport.
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We don’t do much on sport here and that’s a pity – but after IEL’s post here expect more on the World Cup…

This made me smile.

And this may well be of interest to some of you, a newsletter from Dick Fields of Naomh Barróg GAA club which gives a history of the Club (founded in Scoil Lorcáin in Kilbarrack where I went to school myself) from 1974 to date.

Even if you’re not into GAA it’s a great social history. There’s an aerial photograph in the first issue (viewable here) of the area which shows a pre-urban Kilbarrack/Foxfield, probably from the 1960s. By the time I was in the school in 1969/70 the estates were already built or in the process of being built and just looking at it they would have surrounded the farm and stretched northwards (towards the top of the photograph).

 

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1. Joe - June 27, 2014

It’s certainly of interest to me. I grew up in Kilbarrack and played for Naomh Barróg.
Clare Daly’s been slipping in my estimation somewhat lately. Her “Grab All Association” dig at the GAA will lose her some friends, might gain her one or two as well I suppose.
When Dick Fields and his comrades founded Naomh Barróg, they certainly grabbed all. They grabbed all the kids in the area and got them involved in playing games, they grabbed the grown ups and got them involved in organising the games and all that. They got organised and grabbed a field that was originally down to be a site for a women’s prison and turned it into a pitch and clubhouse.
That club got the older and newer residents of Kilbarrack together and formed friendships and solidarity that lives on to this day. If that’s what the Grab All Association is about I’ll take that over Clare and Mick’s sporting sectarianism any time.

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WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2014

And I should have mentioned your name in sending me in its direction too!

I did think that quip about the GAA was far from the whole story. Living close enough to Croke Park and seeing the disruption that can be caused by stuff going on there I have great sympathy for resident and community groups complaints about the excessive number of (non-GAA) events there and that can squarely be laid at the GAA’s door (indeed today’s thoughts from Kieran Mulvey were sensible), but there’s a lot of people working away unsung around the island within the GAA as you say getting kids involved in playing games, etc. Very very important to differentiate between aspects of it and the totality.

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Jim Monaghan - June 29, 2014

Warts and all the GAA invests in sport for all especially kids. Compare the prices for their summer schools. It is open to democratic control. It’s bad points reflect Irish society. Like the credit unions when good are very good.

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2. Brian Hanley - June 27, 2014

By no means anti-GAA in general, but the organisation gets away with all sorts of bullshit. Widespread hooliganism and fighting at games throughout the 70’s- written out of history. The fact that the ‘no foreign games’ rule was completely ignored when Notre Dame played the US Naval Academy at Croke Park in 1996 – is American Football less ‘foreign’ than soccer? The myth of amatuerism – county managers are certainly paid, sometimes very large sums, tax free and under the counter- never mentioned in public. The myth that it includes all classes and all communities- never historically the case.

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Michael Carley - June 27, 2014

Hooliganism I’d never heard of and I’d be interested to know more; on `no foreign games’ you’re exactly right; re amateurism, what do you mean by `county managers’.

Re `all classes’, I think you’re factually wrong but right in principle. There is cross-class participation in the GAA in much of the country, but that feeds a myth of (a certain idea of) Ireland being `classless’ and `egalitarian’.

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WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2014

Certainly strongly working class in parts of Dublin when I was growing up and after, but as someone who has been going to Dublin matches for years on and off I think once Croke Park was remade that did have an impact on the social composition of those who went, more middle class spectators, but that’s just a perception and could be completely wrong. But then that seems true of all sports – tv has had an enormous impact in the last two decades.

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Michael Carley - June 27, 2014

I think there’s a cyclical element to some of that, like the way speaking Irish became fashionable (is it still?) amongst certain sections of the middle class. How many people started going to watch GAA after the rugby got them used to the idea of crossing the river to go to a proper stadium?

I’m going to see Dublin in the Leinster FInal on Sunday (first time at a proper game in Croke Park for a couple of decades) so I’ll be interested to see if it feels different, other than the obvious novelty of watching hurling from the Hill.

The last game I saw live was the Wexford-Kilkenny League match a couple of months ago, in Wexford, and though I wasn’t thinking of it in those terms, it had the same feel to me as going to a game in the eighties. Maybe Dublin, again, is an exception, for its own good reasons.

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Dr. Nightdub - June 28, 2014

On the hooliganism, I remember our primary school teacher running an outing to Croke Park in 1974(ish) for a Dublin v Cork match and there was violence on the terrace that was no different to what I saw at Rovers v Bohs in Milltown around the same time.

What’s worse, I think, is the tacit acceptance of violence on the pitch that then escalates to involve coaching staff, fans, the lot. There was another such incident during the pre-match parade only a few weeks ago.

On the upside, I’ve relatives down in Clare and there’s no doubt the GAA plays an amazing role in creating a fantastic community spirit where they live. Kids of all ages seem to be constantly shuttled to hurling training or matches, there’s huge pride in the fact that one of the local kids made it onto the county camogie team and how the parish team got on is always headline news among the locals. Maybe all those things are more feasible in a rural area than Dublin, but I’ve never seen that anywhere else.

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workers republic - June 29, 2014

Re. DR. Nightdub’s comments, I’ve seen the same in Cork parishes, parents driving their children to matches; great community spirit.
Violence on a big scale with players, officials and supporters involved is a fairly new development and seems to be confined to certain counties Dublin and some Northern counties, ie Armagh and Tyrone .
I can understand a bit of robust play, an odd fist flying on the field of play when adrenaline is running high, but violence involving officials and supporters should be heavily penalized, it needs to be stamped out.

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Brian Hanley - June 29, 2014

The GAA annoy me more than the FAI or the IRFU because it claims to be something they are not. Hence the nonsense about the Sky deal being for the benefit of the ‘diaspora’ etc…

http://gaeliclife.com/2014/04/joe-brolly-the-gaas-forgtten-principles/

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Liberius - June 29, 2014

For me the overtly nationalist nature of the GAA has always been a problem, the idea of codifying a sport purely as an attempt to block the potential popularity of another ‘foreign’ sport just isn’t the sort of thing that a good natured recreation is made of. Another example of this sort of thing might be the creation of Volata by the Italian fascists in the 1930’s as an attempt to head off football and rugby, didn’t work, but then that might have something to do with the fascists getting in there just too late, unlike the GAA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volata

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workers republic - June 29, 2014

+1 for everything Joe Brolly wrote. For years now, I’ve heard people say GAA-grab all association .
I love participation in sport, I was a finalists in the Munster boxing Championships back in the early 60s and trained in the Sparta Wrestling Club a few years later. Amateur sport
is wonderful,but if Marx was
alive today he would
say professional

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workers republic - June 29, 2014

(continued)
Marx would say Professional Sport is the opiate of the masses.
We recently FIFA officials taking bribes from Qatar.Commercialism corrupts, we’ve seen it in other sports, one we see it in the GAA

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shea - June 29, 2014

have wondered about match fixing in the GAA before, but how would you do it, think its easier for one player to feign under performance in soccer and go unnoticed than hurling or football. Dodgy umpire decisions maybe.

have to say i like the counter hegmonic roots of the GAA myself, to an extent they pulled off their objective which is more than can be said for other such organisations.

That full quote the soul of a soulless society, the hart of a hartless world the GAA is the true opium of the masses. Is that thesis not being disputed here?

The big matches which make up a small part of the GAA, there is defiantly big money made of people playing for free from the petrol station down in mayo or kerry to the big tree or coppers, there is with out doubt a corporate side to the GAA, its worth talking about it either to reign it in or to set up the conversation to go for pay for play, would not agree with an association football model of paying players don’t think its sustainable or comparable to the parish county model but think a suitable system can be constructed, but that corporate side of the GAA should not be confused for the whole.

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workers republic - June 30, 2014

I’m not suggesting their is bribery / match fixing in the GAA; no, nothing like that; but the profit motive at the top, by the bureaucrats at HQ.
This is something that goes beyond the GAA,a thing that’s pervasive in Irish society;- a lack of internal democracy. In fairness the sentiments expressed by Joe Brolly are shared by GAA members all over the country ( the 32).
As with the unions, the grassroots of the association need to assert themselves and reclaim their association.

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shea - June 30, 2014

ah right, would be surprised myself if there is no match fixing, big gambling money and all that but how do the feckers do it.

yeah in terms of the big matches the commercial side is getting a bit to powerful. something simple but i think is ruining croke pk, all the advertisments at half time or between games. that time belongs to the fans to sing, but can’t because the things are blaring, they give out about none attendance but from stawberrys at wimbledon to streakers, going to any sporting event can be a bit more than simply being a spectator.

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Gewerkschaftler - June 30, 2014

“Professional Sport is the opiate of the (male-gendered) masses”

+1 WR – More than a half-pint of truth in that. What’s interesting is the way spectators are so often inventive about the way they break out of that role.

Sky is a plague, along with FIFA.

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3. Gerryboy - June 29, 2014

I agree with the opening sentence of the post – “We don’t do much about sport here…” The low income multitudes, many of them known as working class, do a lot about sport. They talk it, they practise it, they buy tickets and watch GAA and soccer. They study the newspaper racing pages and back horses; sometimes go greyhound racing. The coverage of sports is grandly avoided by the left press including blog sites. The right-leaning tabloids and broadsheets like Evening Herald and Irish Independent are allowed to hog sports coverage.

Sports have their social-economic ‘class’ dimensions and their cultural nuances – enough there for leftward writers to get their teeth deeply into the arena. But ordinary people like sports for exercise, relaxation, entertainment and identity fixing, so coverage of sport for sport’s sake needn’t be ruled out.

I could say something about the coverage of music too, but this thread is about sport.

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WorldbyStorm - June 29, 2014

The basic problem is that this is all voluntary. It’s not about ‘coverage’ as such. The site isn’t a magazine or a newspaper. I could spend my life writing just about Irish politics with no reference to social issues, etc, etc and getting space in my life apart from work and commitments is limited. There’s only so much time in the day and also only a limited number of people who write here.

And, in fairness, I’ve asked people whose knowledge and interest in sport is massively greater than me to write if they want to, but I can’t and won’t force them.

It’s like music. You might not like music coverage here or elsewhere on the left (or maybe you do) but I’ve asked people to participate in writing about that too for ‘This Weekend’ etc, etc, same goes for many topics, but at the end of the day the only regular writers on music are myself and IEL who alternate on successive weekends.

I agree with you that broadly speaking the left can appear disinterested in culture and popular culture (An Phoblacht has on the other hand always had some interest in sport). And that is a problem (actually it reminds me of years ago in the 1980s when I was on my way to some WP event, an Ard Fheis I think, and my father who was a strong GAA supporter said to me ‘typical bad timing on the left’ and asking him why he said it was a semi-final in Croke Park or something like that).

But one thing that I’ve tried from the off with others involved here is to keep the door open so that if people have ideas about sport, cinema, books, tv, whatever they are more than welcome to contribute. And that goes for you as well.

And just to +1 you re sports for sports sake.

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4. Joe - June 30, 2014

Nothing is all good or all bad. What I like about the GAA is the type of example linked to in WBS’s original piece. And the examples cited by commenters of community GAA clubs and the great stuff they do. One of the things I don’t like about the GAA is the focus on senior men’s hurling and football teams. A lot of resources go into them – too much resources. The amount of money spent on the Dublin senior county teams is disgusting.
I’m a soccer fan too and I watch rugby when Ireland are playing but I will admit to a bit of reverse snobbery towards the crooked ball game.
Any and all sports clubs and organisations and activities are good.
But I’ll finish with a probably apocryphal story about juvenile GAA and soccer. A dad’s seven year old son was interested in playing football. Dad got the name of the under 8’s manager from a local soccer club, a club that sent may young lads off to England in its day. He rang the under 8’s manager and told him his 7 year old would like to play. The response was “Is he any good?”. He then rang the chap from the local GAA club to enquire about his lad playing with them. The response was “Bring him down. We’ll fit him in. Has he any friends? Bring them down too.”

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CMK - June 30, 2014

Joe, your last point concurs with what I’ve been told regarding the soccer/GAA kids’g game. I doubt the story is all that apocryphal. Soccer is insanely competitive for kids. I’ve a close relative who coaches under 9’s and has fathers ringing him constantly to give out to him for leaving little X or Y out of the team. GAA, on the other hand, very open and very little overt competitiveness at that age. Good points about the senior teams and the funding they get.

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Gewerkschaftler - June 30, 2014

But on the other hand, if you’re not that interested in GAA, the fact they dominate PE in many rural schools, means that PE does not serve all children.

I could give non-apocryphal examples of that.

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5. Brian Hanley - June 30, 2014

I agree with all that- the GAA is a fantastic organization in many ways. But I think it does have politics, which are often of the populist nationalist variety, which promote the idea of ‘Irishness’ as being somehow classless. if you look at the arguments put forward by people like Joe Kernan, Mickey Harte, Colm O’Rourke and Jarlath Burns in support of Sean Quinn for example- he’s a great Gael, he’s an Irishman etc (they don’t have to mention he’s a great Catholic- that’s implicit). I know that some people in the GAA disagreed but they weren’t very vocal. Peter Quinn (a former president of the GAA) gave an interview a couple of years ago which was all about how ‘risk takers’ and ‘wealth creators’ were being hounded out by Ireland by regulation. In a TV documentary about the redevelopment of Croke Park, Quinn had a sly dig at Liam Mulvihill (credited by many as the driving force behind modernising GAA HQ) for having a ‘public service mentality.’ I don’t see much vocal opposition to any of this from within the GAA. In fact I think people like the GPA bought wholesale into Celtic Tiger Ireland- hence the welcome for Sky.

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Michael Carley - June 30, 2014

I think you’re right about the myth of classlessness, and the GAA is handy cover for it, with a bit of assistance from prominent Gaels. I don’t think that culture quite holds at club level though, and the GAA as a culture didn’t fall prey to the Celtic Tiger mentality, and on the whole did not embarrass itself the way much of the rest of Irish society did.

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shea - June 30, 2014

there are people from all classes that love the GAA, hate the GAA and are ambivalent to the GAA, the only people who buy the idea of the GAA representing all are single minded GAA people, its not unique to them though, each year at the 6 nations the rugby team is presented as representing Ireland, or one of the provincial teams that is doing well but huge patches of people have no interest, its marketing aimed at people who buy it already bit of a kick in the shins to point out the fallacy to those that enjoy it though, bit of escapism for them and why not.

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Michael Carley - June 30, 2014

I suppose the reason the GAA can claim to be cross-class is that it’s almost plausible.

It’s interesting to see just how far behind other sports rugby is (fourth as a spectator sport by a long way):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_in_Ireland

So why does schools rugby get so much coverage?

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6. shea - June 30, 2014

i went to an inner city school, had no interest in soccer but it was all the majority of my peers talked about and teachers made small talk about, there was a hurling and football team but that was extra curricular never done at PE. School didn’t have a pitch and soccer was adaptable to the hall so a bit of practicality in it but just to throw in a apocryphal example about how the GAA stranglehold over the schools is not universal, some schools need more resources for them to be put in for that to happen, which will never happen.

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7. workers republic - June 30, 2014

In response to Brien Hanley
“In fact,people like the GPA bought wholesale into Celtic Tiger Ireland, hence the welcome for Sky”
Yes, but this is a generational ,I think.They are the Tiger Cubs, they grew up in the “greed is good ” era. The GPA are an example of it in the GAA ,but it widespread in Irish (and beyond)

society.I was in the “dole” office one day in the naughties and a young man, when asked for his P45,had none and said quite nonchalantly “I had a good contract” . I knew a lot of workers who were quite happy to work in the black or grey economy, where they had no rights and no job security, if they were getting, or thought they were getting a few more extra euro in the hand . A lot of them accepted rat-race rules as the norm: also a positive spin was put on emigration, especially by RTE,all fun and games, drinking, playing football and ‘having the craic’. Mobility of labour is part of the neo-liberal agenda as are zero hour contracts and workfare,where people are just units of labour force.
Some of the Cork GPA are disgusting greedy for money and celebrity status and it must be said, they got a lot of public support.

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WorldbyStorm - June 30, 2014

I saw similar stuff to what you describe too in the private sector workers republic. Total short termism in part because so many were young and that was noted and taken advantage of by employers.

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Joe - July 1, 2014

Janey, WR, don’t get me started on the GPA shower!

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