Posted by Ciarán Whelan

The GAA is right to make grounds available for a World Cup bid but there needs to be investment not just in those grounds but in sport in general

2012 Donegal

It’s certainly something to be welcomed that the GAA have confirmed they will make a number of grounds available for the potential staging of a rugby World Cup.

Any sporting event of that scale should be welcomed. It would be great for the economy and would give the country a lift. Obviously there is a slight competition issue with the GAA but it wouldn’t clash with the championship here.

I think it’s a sensible approach from the GAA. There are a couple of stadia here in need of an upgrade so there might be a sense of urgency to get started on that process.

We’ve seen with Croke Park in the past, and despite the opposition there was to opening it up in some quarters, how much of a success that it was and the financial boost it provided the GAA coffers. But they have to be sure to use the money wisely and invest it back into the game’s grassroots and coaching.

Whether it happens, though, remains to be seen, but it’s nice that we’re at least talking about hosting it and improving some of our facilities.

Since the Olympics the focus has been on facilities, especially with the success Team GB achieved as a result of investing in sport. They are now a world power in terms of what they achieved at the Games and now they are talking about PE in their schools.

That’s something that is often ignored in our system. There are plenty of kids in the country interested in a range of sport but you sometimes feel that PE is just there as part of the curriculum but that a lot of schools lack the expertise to develop a sports program.

The GAA deserves a lot of credit for the work they’ve done with clubs and schools over the last ten years. Leinster have also contributed a lot in terms of rugby but there needs to be more done because sport can have such a positive impact in so many different ways.

It’s something that the government can’t ignore. We’ve seen what Katie Taylor and the boxers have achieved but there needs to be more investment in more sports if we are to be successful again on the international stage.

But the reality is that we’ve probably lost a lot of young talent in this country because of a lack of proper facilities. Kids then don’t have the interest and I know from my own young lad that a lot of the time PE involves just running around a hall.

It’s not always the school’s fault and we need to look at local infrastructure and ways to improve it if we are to nurture the talent that we undoubtedly possess in this country.

THE GAA ARE now asking county boards to declare and sign off on any payments to managers but we have to be realistic and say that some managers are getting paid but not necessarily by the county board.

County boards may adhere to the process but it remains to be seen whether that will stop payments. I don’t see a whole lot of change further down the line even if officials are more acutely aware of their roles and responsibilities.

But it may not change the ethos that exists at the moment in some counties and clubs. I don’t think the latest moves will have a significant impact because I don’t think any county boards are paying managers from their own funds anyway. We know that payment tend to come from other sources.

And I don’t think that a formalised system of paying managers would ever work. The game can never go professional because the money would never be there so I think player welfare must be a priority instead.

In any event, I think that in these tougher economic times there are fewer managers getting paid. Clubs and county boards are under significant pressure and some contributions that may have been made during the Celtic Tiger are not there anymore.

The positive is that the core values of volunteerism and amateurism have thrived so I certainly don’t think that payments to managers is a growing problem.

OF MORE IMMEDIATE concern, the two football semi-finals are very difficult to call. Pound-for-pound, Cork probably have the best side in the country and the most strength in depth.

But Donegal will make it very awkward for them. Cork have suffered in the past coming up against a blanket defence and I think the game is going to be intriguing, if not pretty on the eye.

It will be low scoring and Donegal will flood the midfield, play a high half-back line and stop Cork building up any sort of momentum. Having said that I think Cork will create enough chances and just about squeeze through.

In the other semi-final an awful lot will depend on Alan Brogan and whether he’s back because he’s pivotal to Dublin’s chances.

Pat Gilroy knows they have a lot of work t do in the forward line and they’ve had four weeks to improve that area. They have to get their shape back because they haven’t played well to date.

Mayo are on an upward curve and were very impressive against Down. Andy Moran, though, is a huge loss and they are coming up against a side with a much better defence. I’m not sure Mayo have the consistency in their forward line to score enough points from play. Dublin will be able to stop them scoring goals so Mayo will struggle to get the scores.

It’s going to be a tight one again but I think Dublin have enough to come through.