GAA

Dublin U20 Coach: Dublin's Success Not Just A Money Thing

Dublin U20 Coach: Dublin's Success Not Just A Money Thing

In one month and one day's time, Dublin will be crowned All-Ireland champions for the fifth time in a row. If we're lucky, we'll see Kerry or Donegal make Dublin sweat in the All-Ireland final, but realistically all we can hope for is a close game. Dublin inhabit another stratosphere. Complacency always seemed like their greatest challenge, but remarkably Dublin of 2019 seem better than their recent predecessors.

Which leaves us with a not-very-exciting autumn, winter and spring of debating the cause of Dublin's greatness and what the rest of the GAA can do to compete.

If you're looking for an impassioned and articulate defence of Dublin's dominance, read Dublin U20 coach Tom Gray being interviewed by Ian O'Riordan ahead of Sunday's U20 final between Dublin and Cork. Gray is clearly frustrated by the narrative that Dublin's success this decade has been bought.

To Gray, this Dublin team is the greatest of all time, and their success is not the result of financial doping, but instead by quality volunteer work.

“It [funding] is one of a multitude of factors. In my own club [Na Fianna], we produced a social value report which Michael Clifford wrote about in May. That objective research suggested in Na Fianna there was over 2,000 volunteer hours a week and 40 hours from our Games Promotion Officer (GPO).

“Ballymun Kickhams are arch rivals of Na Fianna and have five or six on the Dublin team but that’s down to the work of the people on the ground, the work Paddy Christie does providing the social service to the area over the last 10 years. I’m sure Paddy Christie gets hugely frustrated when he hears the stuff in the media, when he’s provided a service to society.

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Is it possible to be both right and wrong at the same? Obviously the volunteer work and ceaseless commitment to the GAA by the likes of Christie have had a massive impact on Dublin's success. It's impossible to imagine Dublin's 5-in-a-row run without the likes of Philly McMahon and James McCarthy, two Ballymun stalwarts who might have slipped through the cracks of Dublin GAA in previous years.

That said, the numbers don't lie. Allocating 14% of the 2016 GAA Development Fund to Dublin must, at some level, trickle upwards to senior team. The GAA's decision to invest heavily in Dublin GAA at the grassroots level. As the most populous county in Ireland, at the heart of where the country's wealth is located, Dublin was always the GAA's sleeping giant. Dublin's awakening has been enabled by commendable volunteer work but every county has those. Not every county has the money that Dublin has its disposal.

Either way, we commend Gray for arguing for a nuanced debate on the subject of Dublin's success. That however seems unrealistic given the inevitable coming on September 1.

Donny Mahoney

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