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Values

HAD last night's launch of Dublin's Strategic Review had a Western theme, those who run the fortunes of Gaelic games in the capital might have stumbled into the local saloon, looked enviously at the tanned, ripped figure of Leinster rugby attracting all the attention at the bar and declared: "Partner, this town 'aint big enough for the both of us ... "

Except it wasn't like that. The Strategic Review, for those who have yet to review its content, is an expansive, ambitious document outlining the challenges, targets and plans for Dublin GAA over the next five years.

It is hugely detailed, wide-reaching and closely defined document.

Contained within, however, is a couple of paragraphs about the increased competition from other organisations, sporting and otherwise, for "hearts and minds in Dublin" and a thinly-veiled jab at Leinster's Rugby's perceived opportunism of a couple of years back.

For what it's worth, we remember the launch of that jersey and the casual jeers which greeted it and yes, to many, it was deemed an attempt to tap into that great pool of bums on seats commonly derided as 'bandwagoners' and labeled 'The Sunshine Brigade'.

"The Blue Jersey is an unique, inclusive brand," reads the offending line in the Strategic Review, "uniting Dublin's dense expanse, blurring the difference in class and possession which became so pointedly manifest during the delusional days of the Celtic Tiger."

"We can't copyright a colour but the subliminal exploitation of Dublin's unique sporting hue by our competitors has not gone unnoticed."

The line is quite clearly a reference to Leinster's decision to adopt a sky blue jersey for each of the last two seasons as their first choice strip. Indeed, when Leo Cullen lifted the Heineken in May of this year, they wore a colour more closely associated with gaelic games in the capital.

It's worth noting, though, that Leinster have since returned to the 'Royal' (won't win many Dublin fans with that) shade of the colour, a change which CEO Michael Dawson insisted "will be popular amongst the supporters" at the jersey's launch.

The next line of the statement is much more interesting.

"Mutual respect," the report's authors contend, "is essential in Irish sport yet the appeal of a flourishing professional franchise is still a real challenge in the while the demographic shift continues to distort traditional values and interests."

Competition then, is a good thing. Indeed, Dublin's hugely successful 'Spring Series' earlier this year was largely a counterpoint to the box-office status automatically granted to Leinster by the Heineken Cup.

Against that, Leinster get no coverage during the summer when Gaelic games rules the media's attention. If there is a cross-over, they don't tend to thread on each other's patch too often when their crops are in season.

Dublin's support didn't seem to dwindle this year after Leinster won the Heineken Cup whilst Leinster's fanbase appears unharmed by Dublin's All-Ireland success.

Strangely, this latest 'row' comes within weeks of Dublin captain, Bryan Cullen, taking up a coaching role with Leinster rugby.

Cullen has started his new role - a unique opportunity for which he was best qualified - and to the best of anyone's knowledge, will captain Dublin again next year as they go to retain the All-Ireland.

It was a classic example of how one side can help the other and why, for obvious reasons, this town is plenty big enough for both.


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