The Laois GAA Strategic Review was launched on Monday night.
A new GAA club in Portlaoise, the appointment of a full-time Coaching and Games Manager, and up to ten clubs could cease to exist in the next decade.
Those were some of the most eye-catching conclusions drawn from the Laois GAA Strategy and Action Plan, which was launched last night in the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise.
The review committee, chaired by former GAA President Nickey Brennan, have recommended that a new GAA club be set up in Portlaoise town, based in the Knockmay or Mountmellick Road area.
Laois GAA have been urged to set up this new club in 2018, with a view to the club participating in competitions in 2019. The club would be specifically for juvenile players, and they propose it would, in time, be a “feeder unit to the adult clubs in Portlaoise and environs.”
They proposed the new club in the town due to the population boom predicted in Portlaoise over the coming years, with the town's population scheduled to reach 25,382 by 2023. An estimated 6,000 non-Irish nationals live in Portlaoise also.
In contrast to the rise in population in Portlaoise and other urban centres in the county, the committee have also warned that up to ten clubs could cease to exist in the next ten years.
Drawing from Laois County Council's Local Authority Development Plan for 2017 to 2023, which predicts the future population growth in all areas of Laois, the Strategic Review Committee have noted that clubs in rural areas already struggling to field teams are not likely to see the population in those areas increase.
This major factor, coupled with a proliferation of Gaels teams in recent years, have resulted in some clubs no longer able to field their own juvenile teams.
As a result, the report contains a stark warning to some smaller clubs in the county. “It is clear from the responses which were submitted by clubs via the Questionnaire that perhaps as many as ten clubs may cease to exist in ten years, or less in some cases.”
The other key recommendation from the report is the appointment of a full-time Coaching and Games Manager, who would report to the county secretary.
That is one aspect of a wide-ranging review of Laois GAA's Coaching and Games structures, which also highlights the huge workload placed on the GDA's, while not enough input is received from either the Coaching Officer or the Coaching and Games committee. The review also discovered there were no evidence of regular meetings of the Coacing and Games Committee.