Dublin’s Gavin calls for year ban for racism

Dublin manager says there is no room for such behaviour – on or off the field


It’s not just about image, it’s about respect. And as suited Jim Gavin sits in a meeting room on the third storey of the Gibson Hotel – his back to a window that overlooks the Liffey where the East Link toll bridge is rising occasionally to allow water traffic go about its business – there is nothing but clarity when the Dublin manager addresses some unsavoury allegations that have emanated from GAA fields in recent weeks.

Allegations of spitting. Of racism. Of sledging, that term that applies to players who verbally abuse opponents. As far as Gavin, a product of a military background having spent over two decades as a pilot and instructor in the Aer Corps before moving to the Irish Aviation Authority, there is no room for such behaviour – on or off the field – in Gaelic games.

“It’s completely unacceptable. There should be zero tolerance policy on everything from that [spitting] to racial abuse to sledging,” said Gavin, who compared current behaviour with those of his own playing days.

Stand their ground
“We got up, dusted ourselves down and got on with it. And that’s what I would expect the Dublin players to do and wouldn’t expect anything else of them.

“They’d need to stand their ground, but that [behaviour] wouldn’t be in my playbook at all,” said Gavin, whose unbeaten Dublin team face Tyrone at Croke Park tomorrow in the glamour match of this round of Allianz Division One matches.

Gavin – who won an All-Ireland with Dublin in 1995 and coached two winning All-Ireland under-21s teams in 2010 and 2012 before succeeding Pat Gilroy as senior manager last October – adopts a hard stance on images which have the potential to tarnish the GAA.

“I notice this week is the Europe Against Racism week and what better time to put down a marker for trying to encourage people into the Gaelic Athletic Association and that the GAA comes to the forefront of showing zero tolerance to racism.

Different cultures
“What better way to bring people from different cultures and different ethnic backgrounds into Irish life? Let them become Gaels.”

In advocating “strong punitive measures” for anyone found offending, Gavin continued: “I know the GAA want to eradicate it but, to really do the right job on it, you need to have zero tolerance [for racism].

“To me, that’s a 12-month ban straight away . . . we need to address the problem and move on.”

The spitting issue has come into the public domain following recent alleged incidents where Donegal’s Karl Lacey and Kerry’s Paul Galvin were victims of such behaviour, whilst the GAA are to deal with the racism issue on the clár of the upcoming congress in Derry.

Dublin standpoint
For sure, the start of the league campaign has been all that Gavin could have wished for from a Dublin standpoint.

As for talking about the work-in-progress that is the Dublin senior football team, Gavin – although his team has opened with four wins from four to top Division One – is more tolerant as he looks “for a consistency in performance for the full 70 minutes,” describing some of the performances to date as “patchy, so we can’t put up the sign yet on it. But it is getting there.

“Every session we do with the guys, you can see the progress.

“At this elite level players, by their nature, their game intelligence is very high and they absorb what you are trying to teach them or coach them very quickly.

“I’m sure very coach has experienced that at intercounty level and it is very satisfying what we are trying to impart in them, we are getting there in small bits and it is a work in progress.

Tactics deployed
“You are always reflecting on the performance and on how the team played and on the tactics you deployed so it’s very much a cycle of you looking back on stuff and trying to improve I still haven’t got that game yet where you can say there has been perfection in it and that’s a long way away and you are continuously looking at areas to improve on.”

A case in point? The two goals conceded in the demolition of Kildare last Sunday.

“It was very disappointing, and very disappointing for the backs as well, and they have looked at it and tried to address it.

“But that’s part of the learning process.

“It is nice to win but winning isn’t the be all and end all.

“We are looking towards June [the championship] and trying to have things sorted out by that stage.

Hopefully we will get there, but these things are to be expected I don’t expect the players to be 100 per cent at this stage in the season.”