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Battle for Dubs' hearts and minds ... but room for all

TRUE Blues? Who are they? Dublin GAA are of course the ones we always associate with the sky and navy blue. And recently, the success of Leinster has brought the royal blue and provincial harp into our minds.

The document released by Dublin GAA in Croke Park yesterday is a very worthy one, citing as it does the ambition of winning Sam Maguire at least once every three years. But they do take a side swipe at Leinster claiming blue as its colour.

That for me says one thing: the battle for the hearts and minds of young Dubs is truly on. Throw in soccer and our qualification for Euro 2012 and you have three great sporting organisations all competing for virtually the same talent pool. And bear in mind that the biggest schoolboy football leagues in Europe are all based in the capital.

What great fun for the fan and spectator but behind it all is the very serious business of securing the future of the various sporting organizations: GAA, FAI and IRFU. Of course this battle for the 'hearts and minds' of the hundreds of thousands of youngsters right across the city and the county goes way back.

How many out there remember the Ban? That was when the GAA banned for life players who were found to be playing 'foreign' games. Great footballers and athletes suffered because of this lunacy. In my own county of Kerry, legends like Mick Galwey got abuse for playing rugby when they were also playing for GAA clubs and counties.

This paranoia turned into a more real threat when Jack Charlton came along. If you drove across Dublin in those halcyon days you would have seen a huge upsurge in young people, boys and girl, wearing the green and not the blue of Dublin's GAA teams. Charlton added fuel to the fire by saying he was 'suspicious' of a game where you were the only country that played it.

'Unleashing the Blue Wave' is a very good document and a very achievable. There has been immense and really positive development work done. That saw fruition in stunning All Ireland football success and in the success of the hurlers under Anthony Daly .

It will put Dublin GAA on a professional footing. They mention how: "The Blue Jersey is an unique, inclusive brand, 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,"

Of course the GAA are right to be alert to all competition. After all, Leinster rugby hired football captain Bryan Cullen on their Rugby Academy team just days after the Croke Park success and rugby has been introduced to many working class areas far from the playing fields of Blackrock..

However the GAA can relax. Dublin is big enough for all of them and always has been. It's probably true to say that no one owns the colour blue. I think Dublin GAA is one of the great franchises in this country.

Ultimately there is a place for all three sports where all three codes will be successful. One success lifts the other and if we get kids out exercising it doesn't matter which blue they wear. Are they not all, at the end of the day, True Blues at heart?


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