It’s five days since the epic All Ireland Final between Dublin and Mayo and although Jim Gavin’s men won an historic three in a row the reaction and coverage in the media has been nothing short of shocking as far as showing due respect to the achievements of one, if not the, best Gaelic football teams to ever grace the game.
Rubbish about splitting the county into anything up to four teams has been the order of the day.
Instead of acknowledging this great Dublin teams achievements, as they have done when Kerry dominated the game and Kilkenny ruled the world of hurling, the media have been more interested in spewing stories about GPS’s and kicking tees.
You would swear that Mayo had in fact won last Sunday, never in the history of game has there been such a volume of articles dedicated to the losing team of an All Ireland Final.
Below are the reflections on Dublin’s the All Ireland win and the subsequent media coverage by our good friend and huge Dublin fan Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin who expressesa few home truths about the generations of volunteers who tirelessly promoted GAA in Dublin.
Reflections on Dublin’s All-Ireland win and begrudging media reaction.
Driving to a meeting in Lucan on Tuesday evening I missed my turn off the N4 because I was increasingly irritated by an item on Newstalk’s Off The Ball programme relating to GAA funding in Dublin compared to the rest of the country.
This was in the aftermath of a genuine suggestion from two The Sunday Game analysts that the county of Dublin should be split into regions for future competitions.
What baffles me is the apparent lack of appreciation of what an incredible side this Dublin team is. Their achievements have already been overshadowed by what can only be described as a begrudging debate which is undermining the success of this remarkable group of players.
I think its only fair to air a few home truths.
There are generations of teachers, coaches and activists who have promoted Gaelic Games in Dublin often in very difficult circumstances. There has always been competition in Dublin from a variety of other pursuits and the GAA has at various stages struggled to keep up.
Before the success of this current squad under Jim Gavin and previously under Pat Gilroy, Dublin had won eight All-Ireland titles since the Civil War. Eight All-Irelands in ninety years. That includes the team of the 70s who won 3 in 4 years.
In the Jack Charlton era it was the 1991 saga that helped rescue the game in the capital. Fifteen years ago when Saipan was on everyone’s lips, Dublin hadn’t gotten out of Leinster in seven years. When Ireland won the Grand Slam in 2009, Dublin were in between two double-digit Championship hammerings from Kerry and Tyrone.
The reaction in the early 2000s was to devise a plan, to stick to it, and to continue to promote the games in Dublin through our schools and our clubs with expert coaching. I was one of hundreds of teachers who coached children in the Cumann na mBunscol competitions with the dream of reaching a Croke Park final. I sat in late evening meetings in Parnell Square with other teachers listening to Noel McCaffrey spell out a vision of a different style of games. We were encouraged by Jerry Grogan and others to promote the odd-sock game to delevop two-footed footballers. The clubs did the same, and the progress began to tell.
Dublin needs this team and the success of this team. Dublin needs its heroes and we love this side. The idea that any Dublin child would aspire to play for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown is as ridiculous as to suggest a Cavan child would want to represent Cavan-Monaghan. We have an identity as a city and as a county. We have our failings and our troubles. We’ve been through difficult times and we continues to have almost unbearable challenges. But we have this team. A team that came from us and represents us. And they are the best. And that means the world.
The dedication of the teachers, mentors and coaches in Dublin wasn’t bought. The fact that our mens and womens teams are regularly featuring in All-Ireland finals doesn’t deserve to be undermined. It deserves to be celebrated. And our team wasn’t manufactured on a multi-national assembly line – men like Rock, McCaffrey, Brogan, McCarthy, O’Callaghan come from families of players who have represented Dublin in the 70s, 80s and into the 1990s.
They have won three All-Irelands in a row. Five titles in seven years. Multiple Leinster and League titles to boot. They are decent and respectful young people. On Sunday they will hopefully be joined as Champions by the most committed group of women footballers that have ever worn the blue.
They deserve respect. Not begrudgery. Our county is who we are. And we are damn proud of those who represent us.