The man with the plan sees grey skies turn blue for Dublin hurling
Michael O’Grady believes one MacCarthy Cup would be worth five football All-Irelands
Another event in 2011 had a bearing. Dublin won the football All-Ireland for the first time since 1995. For a crop of talented under-age dual players the big ball exerted a centrifugal force that drew them out of hurling’s orbit. But O’Grady believes Dublin hurling has attained sufficient stature that it shouldn’t be looking for the grace and favour of dual players.
“It’s been a bone of contention. Having watched the under-21s play [and lose to] a good Carlow team, you had to notice that Dublin on the night had two dual players, who hadn’t been hurling after joining the football panel.
“That makes a difference. If it’s not possible for Ciarán Kilkenny, who’s a serious hurler – and a serious footballer, as he proved on Sunday – who’s going to be able to do it? The codes are not even related, in my view.
“I believe we don’t need the dual player because there are enough hurlers who are good enough. It’s just not possible to go from hurling to football.
“I proposed to the county board only recently that dual players should be asked to commit to football for one year and then hurling for the next, just to see how they go with each.
“I know it’s probably not possible to get players to make that sort of commitment but maybe if it became an established practice in future it could work.”
He understands the lure. Football has always been far greater box office in Dublin than hurling but O’Grady emphasises the power to make history, to be part of a new era, is more strongly vested in hurling.
More chance of glory
“Of that there is no doubt. Look at the crowd in Croke Park. I’m not blaming players; I’m just saying there’s actually more chance of glory with the hurlers.
“There hasn’t been a hurling All-Ireland in Dublin since 1938 – and only one Dubliner on that team – so in my view a hurling All-Ireland would be worth five football titles.
“Win one and the team become all-time legends – there would be massive glory to be on that team.”
To create a genuine new era, he feels players should choose early what game they would prefer to concentrate on, which would allow wider involvement at the elite levels from a younger age.
“I think young fellas should make up their mind at 16. Pick a code and stick with it.
“You’ll become better and won’t be keeping places on a panel from committed hurlers or footballers, who could develop by being part of the county set-up.
“People point at the All-Irelands lost – two under-21 finals and two minor finals. Those experiences are all part of it and I think we would give all of them for one senior All-Ireland.”