The County Treasurer came in for some criticism recently as a result of the high costs of registration and insurance within Tyrone. Sean Darcy of Tattyreagh spoke very eloquently about the additional strains being placed on clubs in economic recessionary times as they are forced to find new sources of income. There is little doubt that fund raising and sustainability of fund raising will have a serious impact on many clubs in the county. However an even greater challenge facing clubs this year could well be in terms of human resources.
The Christmas and New Year holiday period is always a great time for catching up with and meeting people whom you have not seen for quite a while. Interestingly I met up with quite a few GAA folk from various clubs during the past two weeks and the talk inevitably centred around football as we reviewed the year and looked forward to 2011. Surprisingly what came through as a common thread from nearly everyone I spoke with was the challenge to their clubs from emigration. The number of clubs who are losing players and members was significant and unfortunately in many cases there were large groups of young people from small clubs packing their bags in search of work abroad. In one case I was told about the club were losing six key members of their senior squad. But in addition to being senior footballers all six were involved in managing youth teams within the club so the effect of these guys emigrating will be felt much wider than places on the senior or reserve teams.
As many clubs are well aware fielding two senior teams each week can be quite a challenge and as last year showed there were a number of reserve games in each division that were not completed as the season drew to a close. The big fear now is that with the prospects of such widespread emigration and loss of personnel some clubs might find fielding a reserve side more difficult than ever. So although the new season for clubs is still some way off the challenges they face are already mounting and while finance will always remain high on the agenda of every club, human resources and their deployment could well take on a greater significance than ever. To lose four or five key players from any club would be a massive hit but when you consider the wider impact on a small community in difficult times the effect is even greater. It will be interesting to see how many teams struggle this year to consistently field two adult teams each weekend.