Kilanerin and Tara Rocks look to join clubs at adult level
There is little doubt that the rural G.A.A. club is under threat.
There is a growing concern over the urban/rural divide, as the consequences for the G.A.A. are serious.
It's already having a negative impact on rural clubs all over the country, with the possible exception of the satellite parishes with close proximity to the urban spread.
The rural G.A.A. problem has constantly been highlighted at national level, with Galway presidential candidate Frank Burke taking it onto his election platform as one of his main areas of concern.
In Wexford we already have a record number of amalgamated clubs at under-age level, which even spread to Wexford town as, despite its population base, there was an amalgamation involving Volunteers and Clonard for hurling purposes which is now no longer in being.
Relaxing the parish rule to save rural players would leave many clubs facing an identity crisis which is something they would be anxious to avoid.
But in an effort to overcome this, Kilanerin and Tara Rocks, who have been amalgamated at under-age levels for some ten years, are applying to the County Board for permission to join, but under separate identities, with Ballyfad hurling uniting with Tara Rocks, while the Rocks footballers would transfer over to Kilanerin.
Kilanerin feel, given their declining population base, coupled with the fact that the clubs have long been united at under-age as Ballinastragh Gaels, that the time has arrived for both to join forces at adult level for playing purposes.
While one can see the merits in the application of the clubs, it's already led to mixed views at officer board level. At one stage a club spokesperson confirmed they had indicated their one hundred per cent backing towards the application, even going as far as liaising with Croke Park as to how the application could be dealt with.
While it would be typical to expect problems to arise and be aired, the clubs felt they had complete backing after a meeting with management committee representatives last week. However, matters have suddenly changed, with the clubs now believing that full support may not be forthcoming.
The clubs' application has been discussed at officer board level, but has yet to reach the Competitions Control Committee (C.C.C.), from where one would expect a recommendation to come from to the first County Board meeting.
Time is no longer on the clubs' side as it's proposed to have the county championship draws next Tuesday night, in conjunction with the first County Board meeting, which sees a declining timeframe for a decision.
No doubt this could ultimately come down to the clubs. Perhaps it's now time for the County Board to set up a special committee to liaise with clubs on an individual basis, to grasp their growing player concerns, and bring a special report back to County Board.
Also it could be worth the County Board's while to re-establish the isolated player rule, where a set number of players in a parish left without an adult team could join an adjoining parish as isolated players. When this was in vogue previously, St. Anne's (Rathangan) won the 1968 county Senior football title with five isolated players from adjoining parish, Kilmore.
Meanwhile, the plight of Coiste na nOg is expected to be eased somewhat with the announcement of Marguerite Furlong as its new Chairperson.
Marguerite, whose daughter, Bróna, assisted Wexford to All-Ireland camogie success in 2007 and is an international athlete, has been acting as Vice-Chairperson.
Club activity is beginning to step up now that the annual general meeting scene has finally been put to bed.
In what was a huge undertaking on Thursday, one would have to compliment Shelmaliers on their excellent hosting of the Wexford versus Dublin Walsh Cup Senior hurling game. The floodlights were top of the range, the pitch was in excellent condition, while the organisation was top class.
Meanwhile, one of the most contentious battles for leadership of a club reached a climax on Saturday evening. The outgoing Oulart-The Ballagh Chairperson, Mary Doyle, decisively held her position, easily defeating their County Board representative, Ger Doyle, on a 63-41 vote.