Monday 19 February 2018

Splitting up Dublin would be disaster for football - Costello

Costello: Dublin chief executive
Costello: Dublin chief executive
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Split Dublin and suffer the financial consequences in a "supposedly brave new world".

That is the warning from Dublin County Board chief executive John Costello in his report to next week's annual convention. Costello was reflecting on a year when Dublin dominance and the scale of their operation was once again a talking point. He insists that Dublin shouldn't be punished for the impressive work they have done over the last decade, and he cautions that others would be just as affected by a split.

"Never mind how such a change would affect us, how would the rest of the country fare in this supposedly brave new world? In terms of gate receipts, TV deals and championship sponsorships, the financial consequences would be severe for Croke Park and potentially catastrophic for the Leinster Council. The Dublin brand sells, so we should be careful what we wish for," he writes.

"Moreover, to cite population as a reason to break up the county is another red herring. Yes, we have enjoyed great success over the past decade in pushing up juvenile participation rates, identifying our potential future stars and exposing them to improved coaching etc.

"But the key question is whether we should now be punished for doing so. Besides, there are still large swathes of the city where Gaelic football is seen as the 'foreign' sport. Our best chance of spreading the GAA gospel in these areas is through the Dublin senior team. Would, for example, Team Fingal or Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown have the same magnetic pull?"

Costello suggests there was also an anti-Dublin sentiment at play after the All-Ireland football final.

"While Dublin's style of play has brought many new followers to the game, the end-game against Mayo brought more than a fair degree of criticism. No All-Ireland victory is greeted in all quarters with great enthusiasm but Dublin's victory this year seemed to bring the 'Anyone but the Dubs' out in greater numbers," he writes.

"When the Dubs contributed to some All-Ireland semi-final classics in recent times and lost, they were always clapped on the back as if it was a great consolation to have 'played their part' in a great game. However, when we capture Sam it can be expected that the knives will come out. But, thankfully, this negativity does not take its toll on our current players, whereas in the past it seemed to weigh a bit more heavily on their shoulders."

Costello hails Dublin manager Jim Gavin for his philosophy on the game.

"Has the wheel turned and is expansive football the new way to go? If so, then Jim Gavin can take a bow. The Dublin manager is to be applauded not just for his commitment to attack-minded football but for having the courage to stick to his convictions."

Costello also reflects on a successful year for Anthony Daly's hurlers, but wonders if the time is right for two referees to police football and hurling.

A word of caution about a potential deal with Sky Sports is sounded while Costello, a supporter of the concept in the past, also believes it is time to wind up the International Rules series.

"Based on the crowds Down Under in 2011 and this year's 28,525 at Croke Park, the public have switched off. Whisper it softly... is it time to put International Rules out of its misery?"

Irish Independent

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