Photo Of Dublin GAA CEO John Costello
Dublin GAA CEO John Costello (Image Credit: We Are Dublin GAA)

This year has been unprecedented for Dublin GAA and no it’s not because of what was achieved on the field of play, but for the concerted negative narrative that was aimed at the Dublin Senior Football Squad and manager by the media.

It seems that the Dublin Senior Football Squad and manager were fair game this year for all sorts of accusations, character assassinations, distain and disrespect from the various media hacks and pundits.

The intensity of the campaign ramped up at the start of the championship with the frenzied witch hunt of Diarmuid Connolly, funny though there wasn’t the same over the top coverage aimed at Lee Keegan for throwing his GPS unit in the direction of Dean Rock as he ran up to take the free that won the All Ireland Final or many other incidents from players from various other counties.

Jim Gavin was accused of having lost it and was not fit to manage Dublin, why?, because he defended one of his players who was being hung out to dry.

Dublin went on to do something that hadn’t been achieved since the mid 80’s and won a third All Ireland title in a row. Cue the plaudits for a fantastic achievement by possibly the greatest team to ever play the game, ah no wait that didn’t happen.

Instead they were accused of being cocky, big headed, unloved by most and Jim Gavin was portrayed as emotionless because he didn’t jump around the place like some demented diabetic Duracell Bunny who had ingested too much sugar.

Throughout the year there were a multitude of articles ridiculing Gavin’s press conferences as non events because of the lack of entertaining sound bites or information coming from the Dublin manager.

Gavin’s job though is not to entertain the media or in fact do their job for them and maybe those that attend these press events should have a look at themselves for the answer to the perceived lack of engagement as their predisposition to twist what is said at pre and post match press conferences or during interviews for a sensationalised story has managers and players from all counties very wary of what they say and the amount of contact they have with the media. As the old saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

And of course after Dublin’s All Ireland win the old rubbish of the supposed population and sponsorship advantages that the sky blues enjoy did the rounds and the old split Dublin in two brigade were back out in force and had suddenly become the split Dublin in four brigade, if Dublin go on to win four in a row there will be calls to split the Senior football team into area codes.

Their main spokesman, a former inter-county player turned pundit professed his concern for the poor children of the Capital not being given an opportunity to wear the Dublin Jersey, it was either a pathetic attempt at ramping up support for his crusade or maybe Ryan Tubridy’s slot on the Late Late Show is up for grabs and he was just auditioning for the role with his best there’s one for everyone in the audience line.

It’s said that success breeds contempt and that maybe true, but if so why wasn’t there the same distain shown towards the Kerry Footballers or Kilkenny hurlers when they were lording over their respective sports.

Well Dublin GAA CEO John Costello has hit back at the naysayers in his annual report which will be presented at next Monday nights capital convention.

But even that led to one national newspaper to lead with a very distasteful headline of “The Empire Strikes Back” and was accompanied by a cringe worthy caricature of John Costello, obviously the journalist or editer with a new Star Wars movie due out this week thought they were being clever, hip or funny, but it just came across as very sad and small minded, but of course was keeping with the negative Dublin narrative that has become tiresome and boring at this stage.

“Some of the commentary around Dublin’s perceived ‘advantages’ — such as population and finance — is both repetitive and often, quite frankly, misinformed,” Costello said.

“Myth 1: Our senior teams have meals delivered to their homes on a daily basis. Untrue.

Myth 2: Our senior teams are given five-star, ‘all-expenses-paid’ treatment. Untrue.”

“The hard yards every year are done in Innisfails GAA club in late winter/spring before they move to St Clare’s, DCU for Championship preparation. Last year, two training sessions were cut short owing to floodlight failure at Innisfails.

On investigation, it turned out this was caused by a player, who had to return to the dressing rooms following an injury on the pitch, who turned on a heater which cut short the circuit! Nothing five-star about that!”

Costello continued: “The battle for young hearts and minds is ongoing — and tougher than ever. My belief is that it is tougher in Dublin than in any other county in Ireland. In rural areas, the local GAA club is often the very heartbeat of the parish.

Playing underage for the local club is often a rite of passage for young people. This is less so in the larger suburban areas of Dublin.

But through the wonderful work of our clubs and schools, we can reach as many young Dublin children as possible and introduce them to what will hopefully be a lifelong love of our national games. But we are not in a situation where we are turning thousands of children away from the gates of our clubs every day.”

Costello addressed the reaction from the media to Dublin’s Victory In Septembers showpiece final:

“Dublin teams, especially senior football ones, are well used to the cut and thrust of media analysis and scrutiny, successful ones even more so! It was there in the 1970s, there was a tsunami of vitriol after the 12 men of Dublin defeated Galway in 1983, and the current panel and management seem to be ‘fair game’ now in some eyes.

“A quick spin through this type of ‘commentary’ (after) this year’s decider against Mayo goes something like this — full-time whistle sounds, Stephen Cluxton lifts Sam — split Dublin in two, actually make that four; these conceited Dubs might be liked by some but they’ll never be loved. Those unpatriotic Dubs should be forced to surrender the GPO! Some of the ‘rhetoric’ was in fact so puerile it was like a collaboration between Roger Hargreaves, the author of the Mr Men series of books, and the writers of that timeless classic, The Magic Roundabout!

“There used to be a perennial column written in some publication about the dangers of the ‘Cult of the Manager’ – maybe some commentators should examine the ‘Cult of Me’ which seems very much in vogue with some of them. Have a go at the Dubs, then sit back, get invited as a paid guest onto various radio shows etc — kerching, cha-ching, cha-ching, kerching!”

“We’ve been down the road before with regard to the splitting of Dublin and I don’t wish to copy and paste old convention reports here. Suffice to say that sense of place and identity is one of the core principles of Gaelic games.”

“Dublin is a united county. However, this theme was given a fresh lick of paint this summer when it was implied that Dublin GAA was ‘short-changing’ young players in the capital and that it would be in the greater good if Dublin were split, for their own sake, if you wish.”

“I presume that was an attempt at engineering dissent and not really a genuine, heartfelt plea for the ‘boys on the hill’ to be thrown a Dublin jersey?

“Maybe, if the powers that be and all other counties were in agreement, Dublin could enter a senior development squad in Division 4 of the league? Yes, didn’t think so!.

“Our senior football manager, Jim Gavin, was the target on several occasions during the summer of plenty of hostility — one paper declaring mid-summer that Jim “was losing it” and that it was time for Jim to be moved on as “Dublin now need a true leader”. Jim’s ‘crime’ was standing up for one of his players, Diarmuid Connolly (who knows he crossed the line against Carlow) in the face so much rage and counter-rage.

“Then, after the All-Ireland final, Jim was again held up to much ridicule and inaccurate reporting. The atmospheres in the rivals’ dressing rooms after an All-Ireland final could not be any more polar. One utter delirium, the other utter dejection. As Jim, rightly, does not see his first priority as Dublin manager to provide a ‘Turn Down’ service for the media, he was accused of effectively being very hostile and that his delay in getting to the media area was provocative. Perhaps we’ll have to get Jim to wear a GPS tracker in future, to give up to the second information on his location.

“The truth of the matter is different though. After celebrating and congratulating his players, management and backroom staff, the squad and members of management made time for pictures with a young Derry supporter with special needs. This young lad and his family had requested that he could spend some time with the Dublin players and management after the game and the team and management gladly obliged.

“In response to (unnnamed pundit) ‘Mr Flip-Flop’ — neither his real name nor a real Mr Men character — obviously these Dublin players will never be loved the length and breadth of the country, but they are liked, admired, and respected by plenty outside the county. In fact, in terms of within the county, I don’t think, in my lifetime association with Dublin, that I have ever witnessed as strong a connection between our supporters and the current team and vice versa.

“And finally, you will be glad to read that suggestions that Dublin players had ‘snubbed’ the International Rules were totally untrue. Any player who was asked out for trials with the Irish team could not commit fully for the entire term owing to club commitments, or injury, or work. Despite Jack McCaffrey highlighting this for one commentator, in plenty of time before publication, it was still dressed up as a ‘Dubs snub’ story with, what read as some half-hearted disclaimer, stuck in.”