Costello admits shallowness of hurling pool but rejects that Dublin are ‘made hurlers’

County CEO also doubts if club championships can be squeezed into calendar year

Dublin chief executive John Costello has conceded the county's senior hurlers lack the depth at the moment to mount a consistent challenge in championship but has strongly disputed the allegation that Dublin hurlers are "made" or "manufactured"

The comments come in his annual report, which will be presented to next Monday’s county convention.

"Possibly (we learned) that the strength and depth required to consistently compete at the top level does not currently exist in the senior panel. The injury to Danny Sutcliffe (2013 All star) prior to the summer had a detrimental effect on his preparations and, without him operating at the very top of his game, our forward unit never really functioned to its full potential."

The comments about Dublin being manufactured hurlers weren't actually made by any pundits but were widely alluded to after the county's heavy All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Tipperary by among others former Cork hurler Donal Cusack, who added that he didn't agree with the characterisation.


Costello takes issue with: “ . . . the argument that Anthony Daly’s team was essentially a collection of ‘made’ hurlers who lacked the innate or intuitive skills of touch, timing, vision and execution possessed by their counterparts in Kilkenny, Cork, Tipperary, etc.

"Now, if you're to view in isolation the two-match box set that was the Leinster final against Kilkenny and All-Ireland quarter-final against Tipperary, you might veer towards such definitive conclusions.

"But this is the same group that lit up last year's championship with its passion, precision and poise; that overcame the two most recent All-Ireland champions, Clare and Kilkenny, in this year's league; that looked a serious championship proposition as recently as Wexford Park last June.

"Maybe, in retrospect, they succumbed to a certain staleness as summer unfolded but Anthony Daly owes us nothing after six epic seasons. Now it's up to Ger Cunningham to take up the baton and enliven a talented group that, I firmly believe, still has plenty to offer.

“Paudie O’Neill, the Tipperary senior coach who was at the capital’s underage hurling coalface for many years, summed it up succinctly a few months back when suggesting that Dublin has a ‘manufactured’ tradition, rather than manufactured hurlers. Thirty years ago, he reminded, there was basically no hurling in Ballyboden St. Enda’s.”

On the subject of hurling, the Dublin official further argued for the introduction of the black card into hurling to combat cynical play, which he maintained is as prevalent in the game as it is in football.

Although critical of inconsistent application of the rule in football - which he argued affected results in last summer's championship - he referred to an incident in this year's hurling championship - presumably Donal O'Grady's foul on Richie Power in the All-Ireland semi-final between Limerick and Kilkenny, arguing.

“If the hurling player was an inter-county footballer, he would have received a black card (we presume, although that’s open to question on this year’s evidence); moreover, his team would have been reduced to 14 men as he was already carrying a yellow. Could anyone have reasonably argued with such an outcome?

“The above snapshot is just one example of where hurling could actually benefit from a black card deterrent - even more so if the current penalty rule isn’t amended to tilt the balance back in favour of the attacking team, instead of encouraging the fouler.”

Costello elsewhere expressed support for the idea of restricting defenders at a hurling penalty to just one, the goalkeeper, now that the GAA has ordered all such awards to be struck - as opposed to just lifted - from 20 metres. He also favoured the introduction of an ‘advantage’ rule.

“Here’s another area where hurling could learn a thing or two from its big-ball cousin. The advantage rule. It works. It favours the attacker. It punishes the cynic. Just go for it!”

Elsewhere in his report Costello becomes the latest GAA official to express reservations about the proposal to conclude All-Ireland club championships by the end of the calendar year. This goes before Central Council next month and if approved will be debated at annual congress in February.

“In theory it’s a perfectly valid aspiration,” he writes, “and there is no doubting that prolonging the elite club season until St Patrick’s Day causes its own share of headaches for the clubs involved, their counties, and indeed for the overall fixtures calendar.

“But will it work in practice? Can all counties hope to meet this demanding schedule given the conflicting demands of the inter-county season? Will enough people be willing to compromise? More pointedly, will Croke Park grab the bull by the horns and restrict the length of the inter-county season, thus offering sufficient leeway for the clubs?”

Costello was very critical of suggestions that Dublin’s central funding be reduced because of the county’s success in securing sponsorship deals and ability to raise funds in order to divert funds to less populous and weaker counties.

"Let me set the record straight: the Dublin County Committee has no issue with Croke Park offering additional financial support to help so-called weaker counties in their quest to keep pace with the stronger units.

“But let me be equally blunt: this should not come at a direct monetary cost to Dublin.

“Remember, it’s not so long ago since equally prominent GAA people were decrying the absence of any football or hurling presence in large tracts of the city. A concerted, focussed effort was launched to rectify this. Now, when Dublin gets its house in order and success starts to flow, most notably at U21 and senior football level, the inference is that we should stop doing the right things or even be handicapped from doing so.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times