Dublin county CEO John Costello released his annual report on the county board convention, and we've had a look at the 72-page document and gleaned a few learning from it. Advance warning: there's a lot of complaining.
Costello rejects claims made by former Dublin hurler Mick Carton on Off The Ball
Mick Carton - who left the Dublin hurling panel last year - appeared on Off the Ball last month to highlight the "toxic" atmosphere within Dublin hurling, and amid a number of criticisms made, Carton claimed that the Dublin County Board gave preferential treatment to the footballers.
I think the county board have a huge role to play in this too.
For the county board, they are happy enough for the Dublin footballers to be winning All-Irelands and for Dublin hurlers to survive in Division 1. And if that's the sum ambition of Dublin hurling now, there's something seriously wrong, after where we've brought it to over the last ten years.
Costello rejects this:
In conclusion, could I briefly address some allegations that were made about the county board and their aspirations with regard to hurling in the county by a former senior hurler. It has never been Dublin's way to air any perceived dirty linen in public so I have no intention of doing so here.
However, the allegations that were made are totally wide of the mark and those entrusted with the control of Gaelic games in the capital do so with a fair an impartial manner, in terms of both the hurling and football codes.
He accepts the new All-Ireland quarter-final format...taking a dig in the process
On the new format for the round-robin All-Ireland quarter-finals (where teams will play a game in Croke Park along with one both home and away), Costello lended his support.
Overall, in fact, I can see merit in the overall plan. Some white elephant provincial venues will get the big games they've long craved for. It might even silence some of the plaintive wails about Dublin "playing all their matches in Croke Park" - although I doubt it, for I can already hear mutterings if and when we play two of our three group fixtures at Headquarters.
He doesn't believe that Dublin are unstoppable, and therefore should not be curbed
Here is Costello on the perception that Dublin enjoy too vast an advantage to the rest of the country:
But I have an issue with the more extravagant hyperbole that tends to greet most All-Ireland champions, and more especially, a team that has garnered four of the last six SFC titles.
And it's this: all this talk of Dublin domination could strengthen the argument (a nebulous one, I believe) that something radical must be done to "stop them". We're not even talking about splitting the capital in two – thankfully that canard has been buried in the dustbin of daft ideas.
There is much talk of funding equalisation in the GAA, how the finances at our disposal must be curbed to "level the playing field". But this presupposes that Dublin GAA is awash with cash (we aren't) or that you could slash our funding from central coffers without any negative effect. At the most basic level, this is about jobs - that funding is diverted to coaches operating at the juvenile and club coalface throughout the county.
Let me stress, I fully support efforts to bolster the central funding available to so-called weaker counties – they aren't blessed with some of the advantages that Dublin possess and they need help.
However, it behoves Croke Park to find ways and means of generating more resources, instead of settling for a division of the same cake. Put bluntly, extra funding for other counties should not come at the direct expense of Dublin's games development initiatives.
Bleed that well dry and it won't be long before soccer and rugby make inroads back into terrain that Dublin GAA has fought, tooth and nail, to colonise in the first place.
Some cracking phrases in there, to be fair. Although points off for 'so-called' weaker counties.
He advocates the replacement of the Black Card with a sin-bin
The Black Card is a terribly bad thing, now, so Costello believes it should be replaced with a sin-bin.
Was the ‘sin bin’ option discarded without getting proper consideration? It came in for criticism when trialled some years ago but that’s no reason not to reconsider it now. It works perfectly well in rugby where players are sent off for ten minutes.
I have no doubt that if our footballers were asked to choose between a ten-minute ‘sin bin’ and a permanent black card dismissal, they would choose the former.
Costello is not against the odd Donald Trump reference
Costello makes a very fair point regarding how difficult it is to pass a motion through Congress.
Donald Trump would be proud of us. He won the US Presidential election despite getting less than 50 per cent of the vote but that’s still a massive surplus compared with what passes for a majority in the GAA.
Yet again, several motions that won comfortable majorities were deemed lost at Congress last February because they did not get two-third majorities. The idea that 34 beats 66 when it comes to voting on rule changes is impossible to justify.
He cries foul over the deliberate targeting of Diarmuid Connolly
Under the sub-heading of Targeting, Costello makes the point that 'targeting means different things to different people'. Here's what it means to him:
I’ll give one example of ‘targeting’ and how the victim can ultimately be deemed to be the guilty perpetrator if action is not taken by officials when the ‘targeting’ is not cut out at source and the instigator for the most part goes unpunished.
In one of our championship games this summer one of our players – (no prizes for guessing who!) - Diarmuid Connolly, was struck about six times before the ball was even thrown in to commence the game. Okay, they were not Mike Tyson haymakers he was hit with but, never-the-less, each blow was an infraction of the rules and worse still happened right under the gaze of one of the referee’s linesmen. A
t most breaks in play, this action continued with the perpetrator turning his back to the play and repeatedly striking Diarmuid, with one intention only, i.e. provoking a reaction that may get him in card trouble. The linesman’s attention was brought to it but again no action taken.
In conclusion, to clean up this aspect of our games which often culminates in messy pushing and shoving contests and, ultimately the odd ripped jersey or two, it is important for the welfare of the game that action is taken to cut it out at source i.e. the original instigator.
Costello believes that it was harsh of the All-Stars to recognize just six Dublin players
Replete with another reference to a Donald, this time Rumsfeld.
The annual All Stars perennially generates great debate. This year it could be argued was a case of the ‘Known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns’ (© Donal Rumsfeld).
That is the definites, the probables and the possibles resulting in a few contentious selections. Congratulations to all those who were honoured by the awards scheme, particularly our own players, but I think it would be remiss not to suggest that Dublin were a bit harshly judged in receiving just six awards after a season which saw Jim Gavin’s men go unbeaten through the League, Leinster Championship and All-Ireland Series, to secure back-to-back All-Irelands.
It was somewhat mystifying that some players who were not always present be it through being subbed in games, black-carded, or more general card trouble or simply not being picked in the first place, were attributed the same rating as if they had been always present, while players who played consistently were down-graded by dint of not delivering a flawless performance on some occasions.
There is lots more besides in the report, and you can read it in full on the Dublin GAA website.