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GAA is feeling the toll of mass emigration as Ireland's youths leave in their droves to find work abroad Photo by: Sportsfile / GAA

Emigration taking a deep toll on the GAA in Ireland

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GAA is feeling the toll of mass emigration as Ireland's youths leave in their droves to find work abroad Photo by: Sportsfile / GAA

Lack of jobs is forcing young GAA players to leave Ireland to look for work.

As GAA fans look forward to the All-Ireland football final and a replay of the All-Ireland hurling final later this month, the grassroots of the organization  are losing their life blood.

Thomas Gould, a Cork city councilor, told the Irish Independent that the best young players in his club are leaving.

"We are losing the cream of GAA talent in the 21- to 25-year age group," he told the Irish Independent. "These are the guys who would have provided the backbone of a club for the next 10 years."

West Kerry has been hit very hard. . In the Dún Chaoin and Castlegregory areas, the population has fallen by 71 per cent and teams are badly affected.

In Leitrim only 10 players from the 2010 championship team, usually 30 or so players,  are still involved.

The economic downturn and lack of opportunities are causing players to leave the country, with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States among the places they go to seek a better life.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office show that 40,200 Irish citizens emigrated during the 12 months up to April 2011, nearly 13,000 more than in the same period in 2010. The majority of those leaving are aged between 15 and 44 years.

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