John Costello mocks suggestion Dublin’s success has been paid for

Dublin GAA’s chief executive fears new rules may become detrimental to the game

Dublin’s Jonny Cooper celebrates with Dublin County Board chief John Costello after winning the All-Ireland final. Photograph: Inpho

Dublin’s Jonny Cooper celebrates with Dublin County Board chief John Costello after winning the All-Ireland final. Photograph: Inpho

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Dublin county board chief executive John Costello has gently mocked certain criticism of the current football team, and also described the suggestion their success is down to superior funding as “at best is mischievous”.

“Some of the commentary on our senior footballers and management was eye-catching and I think it would be remiss of me not to let it pass unchallenged,” Costello writes in his annual report ahead of the Dublin county convention at Parnell Park on December 14th.

“Words such as ‘robots’, ‘automatons’, ‘emotionless’ were used, by a small group of commentators, to describe our management and players on several occasions this summer.

“Concerned by this matter we undertook an examination of the sum of the parts of all involved and am glad to report that no microchips, levers, wires, transistors, relays etc. were discovered! However, I can exclusively reveal that we did discover that Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey do have a sixth gear!”

Continuing, Costello made it clear that things won’t be changing as Dublin begin their quest to win a record fifth successive football All-Ireland.

“On a more serious note, I am not sure what purpose this fulfils for some commentators? When we were less successful, we were ridiculed for being too showy etc. - now it’s the opposite. Perhaps Jim Gavin should run up and down the sideline during games gesturing to the crowd or throwing water bottles around to show his ‘passion’ or a senior ranking county board official should run to Hill 16 after some victory and throw their tie into the famous terrace?”

On the issue of games funding and the suggestion that the Dublin senior team benefits more than it should Costello writes: “The subject of Dublin’s games development grants is another crude device used by some to try and devalue the achievements of Dublin’s senior footballers this decade, those who want to engage in some alt-history of this decade.

“The money Dublin has received has been invested in our Games Development programme solely at nursery and juvenile level. Our Go Games programme alone, over the last 10 years, has seen a participation growth of 58 per cent in football and 98 per cent in hurling and 11,500 fixtures scheduled annually for children in the Under 8 to Under-12 age groups.

“Massive numbers attend nurseries the length and breadth of the county on a weekly basis. The focus is on enjoyment, fun and introducing young boys and girls to Gaelic games and their local clubs, while also trying to strengthen the link between the local primary schools and the clubs. Many stay and enjoy great years with their local club, while others, unfortunately are lost to the game, concentrating eventually on other pursuits.

“However, to draw a simple straight line, some linear equation, directly connecting this investment at nursery/juvenile level and the success of Dublin’s senior footballers years later is inaccurate.

“I have read articles using the figures of adult players in the capital to suggest that the grants have been invested in our adult games and indeed directly towards our senior footballers and hurlers. This is untrue and at best is mischievous.”

Costello also gave his backing to the introduction of a new second tier football championship: “Amid all this talk of the Super 8s, we shouldn’t forget that there’s a whole swathe of counties with little chance of advancing that deep into summer...

“In the summer just gone, counties from the lower divisions have suffered a series of crushing defeats against top-flight opposition. Waterford’s delight at securing a rare qualifier win (over Wexford) was followed by the grim reality of a 27-point loss to Monaghan. Sligo shipped a 21-point defeat to Galway. Limerick conceded 5-19 to Mayo. Even Clare, who have made great strides and established themselves in Division 2, endured a 22-point setback against Kerry. Dublin may have reached dizzy new heights under Jim Gavin, but it’s doubtful whether all those counties suffering double-digit defeats to us have benefitted greatly from the experience.

“The solution? Not for one second am I advocating abolishment of the provincial championships. Even those counties with little chance of silverware, still want to play in them. But what then? Have the qualifiers run their course? It seems to me, at this stage, that a second-tier championship is the next logical step.”

Commenting of the experimental football rule changes to be trialled in the upcoming league, Costello commented “when taken as a package I fear the new rules will be detrimental to the game and, will in fact, strengthen the hand of those who worship at the altar of the more defensive/negative game.”

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