Tuesday 17 October 2017

Flashback to Dublin's 'Blue Book' and how one quote fits for Mayo's long wait

The cover of the Blue Book which reads: These are our principles of play. 3 second rule; Blocking; Kick Out Position; The Tackle; Re-Starts; Take Good Shots; Don’t Foul
The cover of the Blue Book which reads: These are our principles of play. 3 second rule; Blocking; Kick Out Position; The Tackle; Re-Starts; Take Good Shots; Don’t Foul
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Remember Dublin's 'Blue Book', the manual which was supposed to help them change from contenders to All-Ireland champions?

Issued to the players for what turned out to be 'Pillar' Caffrey's last year as manager in 2008, they were asked to promise to utilise it "to the fullest in the hope of gaining that extra inch."

They were also instructed "not to show or admit to the existence of THE BLUE BOOK to any other person except another Blue Book holder" and to "accept any disciplinary measures including withdrawal of my MY BLUE BOOK, should I not apply myself as a BLUE BOOK holder is expected to."

Every page had 'DUBLIN ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS 2008' emblazoned on top, which was a noble aspiration until August when Tyrone demolished them in the All-Ireland quarter-final.Each month was allocated a quote, designed to inspire a squad that just couldn't get past the All-Ireland semi-final fence.

August 2008 featured Muhammed Ali stating "that only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."

The trouble for Dublin was that the clash with Tyrone rarely came under the 'even' heading as Mickey's Harte men, who later won the All-Ireland final, powered to an 11-point win.

The cover of the Blue Book which reads: These are our principles of play. 3 second rule; Blocking; Kick Out Position; The Tackle; Re-Starts; Take Good Shots; Don’t Foul
The cover of the Blue Book which reads: These are our principles of play. 3 second rule; Blocking; Kick Out Position; The Tackle; Re-Starts; Take Good Shots; Don’t Foul

And here's an irony. Tyrone won by 3-14 to 1-8, the precise margin and points total (2-17 to 0-11) which applied in Dublin's semi-final win over the Red Hand three weeks ago.

The book covered a wide variety of areas, including how to deal with challenges on and off the field, coping with setbacks, tactical advice etc.

The Blue Book's Creed
The Blue Book's Creed

It was decorated with inspirational quotes from well-known sporting and political high-achievers, as well as philosophers and assorted others.

There was advice on communications too, which started with the clear instruction to 'ignore the media'. Players were also told that 'publicity is like poison - it only kills you if you swallow it'.

As for comments about the team, they were to be used 'as a trigger to re-focus.'

If Dublin won the 2008 All-Ireland, THE BLUE BOOK would have been regarded as an ingenious work of art.

Instead, it was seen as no more than pretentious nonsense that served no purpose. Such is the narrow divide between success and failure.

Nine years on, a quote from the Blue Book will resonate with Mayo as they attempt to end a barren run which has seen the county win none of their last ten All-Ireland finals (two draws, eight defeats).

Whoever compiled the book chose American writer OG Mandino for the quote allocated to All-Ireland final month.

"So long as there is a breath in me, that long will I persist. For now, I know one of the greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win."

No team has persisted with greater resilience than Mayo - now the question is will it rewarded with success?

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