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'I Was A Little Bit Disappointed That There Was No Dublin Representative'

'I Was A Little Bit Disappointed That There Was No Dublin Representative'
By Arthur James O'Dea

As another International rules series comes to its conclusion, doubts regarding the feasibility or desire of continuing the once annual match-up tend to linger longer than the spectacle of the series itself.

A sporting event once known most prominently for its excessive on-field violence, this year's series contained fewer flare ups and a higher demonstration of the basic skills required - no more so than by the victorious Australians.

That the first leg of this year's series came in the wee morning hours of a sporting weekend that promised international football and rugby probably didn't help popularise the first such series since 2013.

For many, the absence of any Dublin representative on the Irish panel was similarly troubling. The best team Gaelic football has had in recent years, their inability to commit to Joe Kernan's side left many wondering how serious the contest could realistically be.

Speaking post-match, RTÉ panelists Sean Cavanagh and Ciaran Whelan echoed these concerns. Former Dublin footballer and international rules representative Whelan was not pleased with the block absence of the All-Ireland champions:

Whelan: I'm going to be honest, I was a little bit disappointed that there was no Dublin representative. ... We are at a point where there are huge demands on our inter-county players throughout the year, that when teams progress or they're involved for the full length of the championships, sometimes there are other commitments that come in the way.

[However], I think it is a huge honour [to represent your country] ... so, I have to say, I was surprised there wasn't a little more appetite from the Dublin players to travel out there.

Cavanagh, and original member of the travelling squad Kernan selected, had a different understanding of their decision not to partake.

As in his own case, Cavanagh believes that the GAA calendar does not allow for participation in the series - irrespective of the player's appetite:

I was part of the initial panel that was to go to Australia and play, and I was part of the Whatsapp group, and the Dublin players were there and they were posting that they couldn't make the training on the Friday night, couldn't make the training on the Saturday morning, and that just boils down to one thing; the GAA calendar.

It's not that the Dublin players didn't want to be there.

With many querying the validity of the series if Ireland's best players cannot feasibly partake, Whelan remains adamant however - with, or without Dublin - that the series must continue:

I think the dynamic has changed a helluva lot as well. I think fifteen, sixteen years ago, when [the series] had a higher profile, it kind of came first and club games were called off to facilitate this. That has changed now, where clubs come first, and rightly so, but that does rule out a helluva lot of players.

So it probably means you're not going there with your strongest panel, but does that mean we abandon it and move away from it? I don't think so. If you look back, there is generally a crowd of 30, 40 thousand at all the games, when they come over here there are 40 or 50 thousand in Croke Park.

I think we also have to remember that [the series] gives the opportunity to players from weaker counties who don't get to win provincial titles, who don't get to play in August or September, Niall Murphy from Sligo, Eamonn O'Hara before him ... all these guys, and its massive for their clubs, massive for their counties. They are getting to engage with the top players in the country. I definitely think we should retain it.

Cavanagh, who captained Ireland to victory in the 2008 series, was of a similar belief:

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I think this has been talked about for a long time ... and I think as Irish people, we like to criticise. I personally love the game, love playing the game. I think if you went around and asked all the players at inter-county level ... they would enjoy the chance to represent Ireland.

Its a really competitive game, the players love the chance to represent Ireland ... it's not a junket, the guys really put in a serious effort.

Speaking to the Australian players over the years, they really enjoy the chance to represent Australia too.

In what amounted to a tightly-contested battle between two sides that showed no signs of antipathy toward the competition in question, the desire to see this international tie continue should be encouraged.

See Also: Watch: Chris Barrett Hit With Sickening, Late Hit By Aussie Joel Selwood

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