"Sport is not about war, and death and famine. That's not what sport is about at all. Sport is there to remind us that there is a world outside of that." - Michael Parkinson.
Parky was onto something.
The reasons that we love our sports are many, but one aspect that Irish society underappreciates is sports' ability to link - and in its own small way, save - fractured communities. They help us to keep our perspective when society's difficulties threaten to overwhelm. Few places in Ireland encapsulate the worst aspects of modern life like south inner-city Dublin where gangland feuds, crime rates, drug addiction and relative poverty mean that its children are exposed to more danger than other parts of Ireland.
Our special report into the area, in light of the Sports Capital Programme's recent funding controversy - caught up with community leaders and activists that are trying to raise more money for a grossly under-resourced part of the country.
Tommy Daly, of Kevin's GAA club in Dublin's Liberties, is part of the Sporting Liberties group that was formed to act as a unified voice for the area's GAA, soccer and rugby clubs. He let us into why he feels the Government have so far let them down.
"There's 50,000 people in the Liberties and Dublin 8, from the 2011 census [...] We've been promoting GAA hurling and camogie since 1902 continuously, and the big problem all clubs have in this area is the lack of facilities. There isn't one playing pitch for those 50,000 people in that area.
"We want to promote sport - we are trying to get young people engaged in, and reap the benefits of, participating in organised sport. And it s very difficult for the clubs in the area because they have to bring their kids outside to play games.
"Somebody said 'Why don't you play in the Phoenix Park?' - it's very difficult to walk a team of ten year-olds to the Phoenix Park from here twice a week, and then back again. Suddenly, it dwindles to nothing. We have been actively campaigning as a group - Sporting Liberties - for the past three and a half years, as part of the redevelopment of this area [...] that a full-size, multi-purpose sports field be encompassed in that.
"We've learned that the GAA are pulling the carpet from underneath us. They are selling the lands on Crumlin Road - that is the nearest field to this area."
Tom McGee - President of Liberties Saints Rugby - is also part of Sporting Liberties, and painted a stark picture of the training and playing facilities available to the club.
"As a rugby club, all of our home games we play away. We train out the back of St James' Primary School on a plot of land which is about the size of two tennis courts.
"In five years time, if we go with what Dublin City Council have planned, there will be a pitch here. There will be forty seven teams queueing up to get on and play on it, and it'll probably be the busiest pitch in Europe. But it will be something."
To get a better understanding of the political issues that the area faces, OTB:AM spoke to Rebecca Moynihan, a Labour councillor for the South West Inner City ward that Kevin's and Liberties Saints falls under. She felt that the most recent inflagration of the issue points to a split in Irish society that threatens to deepen:
"When you look at a map of Dublin, it is quite visible where the lack of green spaces and lungs are for young people, on the west side of the inner city.
"We started a campaign - I worked with Kevin's [GAA club] at the time of the development plan. [...] I saw what Wesley College, which is a private college which serves a much smaller number of people, had for themselves - it really, really shows the difference between the two Irelands."
Rebecca also feels that investment in key, strategic areas will ultimately save the city money - let alone lives.
"The inner city of Dublin [...] is one of the most deprived areas of the city. You have large drugs gangs operating out of it, you have kids that have a higher chance of going to prison than elsewhere in the country. I think where you have organised sport where you have mentors and people that are guiding and looking after people - having the discipline and social circle of a sport - is really important.
"I think if you look at some of the sports stars, [sport] saves people's lives.
"The city, long-term, could save money if it invested in very, very basic sports facilities.for younger people so they weren't getting involved in those activities, and they weren't getting involved in those areas - which they are, at the moment, at a really young age."
We will leave the last word to JJ O'Mahony, Kevin's GAA coach, who called for the Taoiseach to grasp the nettle and rescue the area by investing in sports facilities that are desperately needed.
"I call on Taoiseach Varadkar to do the same as Enda Kenny did on the northside, and make this his project and take responsibility for the young people [in this area]. There are 4,500 kids under the age of 14 in this area. What are we going to do? Just turn our backs on them and abandon them as a society? You should come down here, see what's going on and make a difference - this could be your legacy in this part of Dublin. It would be a fantastic legacy to have because you would unquestionably be saving lives as well."
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