Annual Report: John Costello, Chief Executive Dublin Co Board 09/12/2013
Páirc Parnell, Dé Luain 16ú Nollaig 2013 ar 7.00 i.n.
1. Minutes of 2012 Convention.
2. Adoption of Standing Orders.
3. Auditor’s Report and Financial Statement.
4. Secretary’s Report.
5. Appointment of Tellers.
6. Election of Officers.
7. Fixture Planning & Competitions Control Committee Reports.
8. Coiste Éisteachta Report.
9. Coaching & Games Development and Strategic Programme Reports.
10. Appointment of Auditor.
12. Appointment of Delegates to Leinster Convention.
13. Appointment of Delegates to Congress.
Standing Orders for Convention
1. The Proposer of a Resolution, or Amendment thereto, may speak for 5 minutes but no longer.
2. A Delegate speaking to a Resolution, or amendment, shall not exceed 3 minutes.
3. The Proposer of a Resolution, or Amendment, may speak a second time for 5 minutes before a vote is taken, but no other Delegate may speak a second time to any Resolution or Amendment.
4. The Chairman shall, at any time he considers a matter has been sufficiently discussed, call on the Proposer to reply, after which a vote will be taken.
5. A Delegate may, with the consent of the Chairman, move “that the question be now put” after which, when the Proposer has spoken, a vote must be taken.
Aindriú Mac Coitil (Rabíní Fhine Gall) Outgoing
Seán Mac Seanlaoich (Craobh Chiaráin) Outgoing
Séamus de Róiste (Fionnbhrú Colmcille) Outgoing
Fionnbharr Ó Mathúna (Naomh Pádraig Baile Phámar)Outgoing
Dómhnall Ó hIcéadha (Na Fianna) Outgoing
Aindriú Mac Coitil (Rabíní Fhine Gall) Outgoing
Gearóid Ó hArrachtáin (Naomh Mearnóg) Outgoing
Nollaig Ó Murchú (Gael na Trionóide) Outgoing
Oifigeach na Gaeilge
Bairbre Uí Néill (Cáisleán Cnucha)
Tuarascáil An Rúnaí
Tá sé in am dom arís féachaint siar ar na príomh imeachtaí don bhliain atá imithe. Chomh maith le sin, seo an t-aon seans atá agam, mar Rúnaí Chontae, mo thuairim phearsanta a chur ós bhur gcomhair. Teastaíonn uaim mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le hOifigigh an Chontae agus na gClub as ucht a gcuid oibre i rith na bliana.
It is a winter of content after the superb achievements of our senior teams this year – National Football League Division 1, Leinster and All-Ireland Senior Football Championships, Walsh Cup, National Hurling League Division 1B and Leinster Senior Hurling Championship. The Fingal Hurling team also won Division 3A of the National Hurling League.
We might be enduring one of the worst recessions in modern Irish history but, for those involved in Gaelic games in the capital, we live in prosperous times in terms of on-field achievements and honours!
This year, Dublin’s senior footballers captured the ‘Grand Slam’ with the All-Ireland success perfectly bookending the championship as the Dubs were crowned All-Ireland winners for the second time in just three years.
So for the first time since 1976 Dublin are the holders of league, provincial and All-Ireland honours – a fantastic achievement. Perhaps it was a fitting tribute to the late, great Kevin Heffernan who, of course, managed the team in 1976.
A quick glance at their statistics throughout the season clearly illustrates Dublin’s dominance as they progressed through their entire league and championship programme losing only one solitary match.
The style of football played by Jim Gavin’s panel was refreshing and, at times, spell-binding. In the championship they accumulated a massive 13 goals and 99 points with 16 players contributing to the scoring charts – a spread of scorers that highlighted that this Dublin squad is a very united group who do not put self-interest ahead of their team targets and goals.
The blue flame burns brightly which means the onus is now on those involved to make sure the torch is passed successfully from one generation to the next as best we can. This year’s senior team had a mix of experienced players from 2011 merged with some of the emerging talent in the county – all blending into one to capture the Sam Maguire.
Early in the year some of the new faces were given valuable game-time in O’Byrne Cup and National Football League action. Dublin opened their National Football League Division 1 campaign in impressive fashion with a 1 – 18 to 2 – 9 victory over Cork in Croke Park. It was a winning momentum they maintained when defeating Kerry in Killarney (1 – 11 to 0 – 4). Trips to the Kingdom have proven to be some of the least successful for Dublin over the years but that psychological barrier has been removed in recent years as Dublin looked composed and assured with Craig Dias’ goal wrapping up proceedings.
Victories over Mayo (2 – 14 to 0 – 16) and Leinster rivals Kildare (2 – 20 to 2 – 7) followed before we suffered our only defeat in the league and championship when going under to Tyrone by the minimum (1 – 14 to 0 – 18). However, it was a result that proved a great education for some of the younger players as Championship action appeared on the horizon.
We culminated our regulation league games with a draw away against the then All-Ireland champions, Donegal, in Ballybofey. The most encouraging aspect of the game was the fact that some of the younger players ‘stood up to the plate’ late in the game to secure the draw.
The league culminated in impressive fashion with victory over Mayo in the semi-final (2 – 16 to 0 – 16) and Tyrone (0 – 18 to 0 – 17) in the final. Toppling Tyrone happily reversed the earlier result from the regulation stage of league with Dean Rock – in a portent of things to come – kicking two late scores to see Dublin crowned Division 1 league champions for the first time since 1993.
Dublin’s recent domination in the provincial Championship continued during the summer as the team made it three Leinster titles in-a-row with victories over Westmeath, Kildare – showing good temperament to recover from a poor start – and Meath to reach the Bank Holiday weekend in August, widely held to be the beginning of the business end of the championship. Cork were overturned in the All-Ireland quarter-final to set up a clash with Kerry.
This game turned into the game of the season, and despite the concession of three first half goals, Dublin had the ability, focus, will to win and strength in depth to make it to All-Ireland Final Sunday with late goals from Kevin McManamon and Eoghan O’Gara seeing the Dubs home in an epic tussle between two modern giants of the game.
In the lead-up to the final the suggestion, in many quarters, was they Mayo’s greater hunger would prove to be crucial. However, a second half power-play from Dublin put them in the driving seat as they held on for victory to see Sam Maguire reside on Liffeyside for the second time in just three seasons.
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 seems to bring the ‘Anyone But The Dubs’ out in greater numbers. Perhaps the most pathetic commentary on the game was the suggestion by one columnist that Dublin’s games should be played late at night as it was wrong for juveniles to have to witness them. Such nonsense, but I suppose it earned the columnist a handy headline!
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 weight a bit more heavily on their shoulders.
To the panel, management and backroom staff of 2013, the Dublin County Board extends its congratulations on their incredible year. It was a season that saw six Dublin footballers (Stephen Cluxton, Rory O’Carroll, Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Darragh Macauley, Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan) honoured as All Stars and Michael getting the Player of Year gong with Jack McCaffrey winning the Young Player of the Year Award. An excellent haul of awards, overall, which capped a wonderful season.
After the annus horribilis of 2012, Dublin hurling received a much-needed boost as the senior hurlers produced a series of exceptional displays over the past year.
Three titles were garnered, namely the Walsh Cup, National Hurling League 1B and the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship with the Dubs only a whisker away from qualifying for their first All-Ireland Final since 1961.
An encouraging 2 – 19 to 1 – 21 win over Galway in the Walsh Cup semi-final offered Anthony Daly and his men a reassuring start to the year. That positivity was continued as Dublin claimed the title when overcoming Wexford by 1 – 19 to 0 – 16 in Enniscorthy with Paul Ryan contributing 12 points.
Dublin began their National Hurling League Division 1B campaign with a narrow 1 – 20 to 2 – 16 win over Offaly at Parnell Park and they remained undefeated as Antrim were overcome by 3 – 12 to 1 – 10.
However, their momentum was punctured when falling to Limerick by 1 – 21 to 1 – 15 in Croke Park but successive wins over Wexford and Carlow ensured Dublin were given a second shot at the Treaty County in the league decider on 6th April.
With promotion at stake, a nervy encounter ensued but Paul Ryan’s prowess from placed balls proved pivotal as Dublin eked out a narrow 1 – 16 to 1 – 15 success, with David Treacy and Niall McMorrow making telling cameos in the second-half.
That was Dublin’s first target in the league to get promotion but they were outclassed when falling to Tipperary by 4 – 20 to 0 – 17 in the 1A semi-final a fortnight later.
Suitably forewarned, Dublin entered the Leinster Hurling Championship in uncertain terms and that showed to a certain degree as they managed to secure a 1 – 17 to 1 – 17 draw against Wexford in Wexford Park. Seven days later in Parnell Park, Paul Ryan’s first-half goal handed Dublin a suitable cushion to prevail by 1 – 17 to 0 – 12 against 14-man Wexford.
Dublin’s win saw them pitted against All-Ireland holders Kilkenny in Portlaoise the following week with the Sky Blues producing a much improved performance as TJ Reid’s late score salvaged a 1 – 14 to 0 – 17 draw for the Cats. Joey Boland, who scored nine points in total, looked to have secured a landmark win for the Dubs but Reid’s late score ensured Dublin had to play their fourth successive championship clash in as many weeks with O’Moore Park the venue again.
Those who argued that Dublin had missed their opportunity of springing a surprise were left speechless as the Dubs deservedly registered their first Championship win over Kilkenny since 1942. A second-half goal from Danny Sutcliffe proved the decisive score for Dublin, who never trailed over the course of the seventy minutes en route to a 1 – 16 to 0 – 16 win.
Their reward was a Leinster Final appearance against Galway with Croke Park witnessing a superb display from Dublin as they defeated the Tribesmen by 2 – 25 to 2 – 13. A goal in either half from Paul Ryan saw Dublin enjoy a healthy lead early in the second-half and despite a Galway comeback, late scores from Conor McCormack, Sutcliffe and Simon Lambert confirmed Dublin’s first provincial crown since 1961.
Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-final against Cork will live long in the memory as a game that had it all, with the sides level on 15 occasions over the 70 minutes as a late Patrick Horgan goal saw the Rebels triumph by 1 – 24 to 1 – 19. In total, 18 different players scored over the 70 minutes with a David Treacy goal ensuring the Dubs trailed by just 0 – 15 to 1 – 11 after a breathtaking first-half. With Dublin seemingly in control after the break, the dismissal of Ryan O’Dwyer turned the tide in Cork’s favour and they took advantage of the extra man with Horgan’s goal the final nail in Dublin’s coffin.
Dublin’s encouraging year was reflected in the All-Star nominations with a total of nine players shortlisted for the coveted award. They were as follows: Gary Maguire, Peter Kelly, Liam Rushe, Michael Carton, Joey Boland, Conal Keaney, Danny Sutcliffe, Paul Ryan and David O’Callaghan. Peter, Liam and Danny were honoured on the starting 15 – Dublin’s greatest ever number of hurling All-Stars in one year.
Dublin’s defence of their provincial and national titles ended in disappointment following their Leinster Minor Football Championship semi-final defeat at the hands of Kildare. The year had started positively for the team as they registered successive wins over Tipperary and Westmeath before confirming their qualification for the Leinster Minor Football League final after defeating Longford by 0 – 10 to 0 – 6 in Belfield.
Three goals in the final against Kildare in Chanel College proved pivotal as the Dubs retained their provincial league crown. In truth, Dublin laboured for parts of that encounter but the victory ensured we entered the championship with a morale-boosting win.
However, that confidence was somewhat eroded as Dublin struggled in their tricky-looking Leinster championship 1st round encounter against Louth in Drogheda on April 13th. Nerves and the inclement weather certainly played a part in Dublin’s excessive wide count of 17 that afternoon, with only a late point from impressive substitute Con O’Callaghan forcing extra-time for the holders.
The Cuala dual player added two further scores in the ensuing 20 minutes and with Eoghan O’Donnell excelling from centre-back, a late Basquel free ensured a fortuitous 1-9 to 1-7 victory. Dublin, managed by Cyril Kevlihan, were much improved in their quarter-final four weeks later. O’Callaghan was rewarded for his showing against Louth with a starting slot at full-forward and scored four points in the process. Dublin were far more fluent as they overcame Wexford by 0-17 to 0-9 at the DCU Sportsgrounds.
However, any momentum from that win was punctured somewhat by the seven week gap before the semi-final and an injury to O’Donnell deprived an already inexperienced Dublin team of its most experienced player and arguably one of their best.
Dublin also picked up several injuries in advance of their next clash and these were exposed by a ruthless Kildare side that produced a superb display when accounting for Dublin by 3-13 to 2-6 in Parnell Park on 6th July. Martin Cahalan and Aaron Byrne were forced to retire early due to injuries and despite Cillian Sheanon finding the net in the first half, the hosts were continually on the back foot against a physically superior Kildare team.
To their credit, Dublin battled until the final whistle with a late Colm Basquel goal a positive note. The silver lining from a Dublin perspective is that many of this year’s more prominent performers will be eligible again in 2014 and the experience garnered from the past 12 months could prove invaluable as Dublin look to regain provincial honours. However, over the past year Dublin have lost several players to professional soccer contracts – players who more than likely would have featured for next year’s minor footballers.
A lack of experience proved Dublin’s downfall as they endured a truncated Leinster Minor Hurling Championship campaign when falling to eventual provincial winners Kilkenny back in late June.
Dublin manager, Pat Fanning, was hampered in a similar manner to that of his footballing counterpart Cyril Kevlihan, with many of the players that had featured in the 2012 All-Ireland Minor Hurling final against Tipperary now ineligible. Of those available, only Cian Boland, Cian Mac Gabhann, Shane Barrett and Eoghan O’Donnell started in Dublin’s replay defeat at the hands of the Premier County while, Seán Treacy, was another player to feature heavily in 2012.
A series of impressive displays in challenge matches against the elite minor counties saw Dublin overcome Offaly and Limerick, in addition to competing admirably against Waterford and Clare.
Dublin’s defence of their provincial title began with a trip to Tullamore on 4th May and despite missing the talents of Shane Barrett, Chris Bennett and Cian Boland, they secured a well-deserved 1 – 21 to 1 – 11 victory. The concession of a second minute penalty was hardly the ideal start for the Sky Blues but O’Donnell showed all his leadership qualities as Dublin seized control of the tie. Dual player Con O’Callaghan hit 1 – 5 for Dublin as they pulled clear in the second-half. In addition, Seán Treacy’s seven points and strong showings by Eoghan Conroy from St Maur’s and John Bellew helped the visitors to a ten-point win.
The upcoming Leaving Certificate ensured a lengthy break prior to the semi-final and a dispiriting loss to Cork in a challenge game at Parnell Park was not ideal preparation for their impending clash with Kilkenny. Eoghan O’Donnell’s broken fibula also deprived Dublin of some much needed leadership and the Cats took full advantage when registering a deserved 0 – 17 to 2 – 7 win in Donnycarney.
Two early points from Seán Treacy set Dublin up well but they struggled for primary possession throughout. However, first-half goals by goalkeeper Jonathan Treacy and Bennett handed the hosts a 2-4 to 0-7 interval lead. However, a strong breeze at Kilkenny’s backs saw the visitors draw level early upon the restart and despite Chris Bennett adding two scores for Dublin in the second-half and Cian Mac Gabhann’s excellence at full-back, Kilkenny advanced to the Leinster MHC final.
With Pat Fanning on board as manager for 2014, Dublin can derive many positives from the past year with a large number of the panel available for selection again next year.
Under 21 Football
Dublin’s reign as Leinster and All-Ireland U21 Football Champions came to an abrupt end as they fell to a talented Longford outfit in their Leinster U21 Football Championship quarter-final at Parnell Park last spring.
With successful 2012 manager Jim Gavin having taken over the senior panel, Dessie Farrell’s positive tenure with the minor footballers over the previous two years made the Na Fianna clubman the outstanding candidate to take over Gavin’s reins.
However, the U21 grade is a tricky one. One of the key issues is to build momentum as, historically, the early rounds are potential minefields. In addition, third level competitions and senior call-ups have to be facilitated while Dublin also had a few injuries.
But all these proved academic initially as Dublin overwhelmed Carlow by 4 – 27 to 0 – 2 in Parnell Park in their Leinster U21 FC first round clash. The mismatch prompted unnecessary hyperbole, focussing on the perceived advantages enjoyed by Dublin on the inter-county stage.
Certainly, Dublin looked particularly sharp that night with Ciarán Kilkenny grabbing the headlines with 2 – 10 over the hour. The contest ended as it began with Dublin re-affirming their scoring threat with Shane Carthy and substitute, Harry Dawson, netting towards the end.
The ease at which Dublin accounted for Carlow proved misleading in the build-up to the Longford tie – a team who had caused lots of problems for Dublin minors in 2011. However, given that Longford had won the corresponding Leinster Minor Football championship three years previously and had claimed the Hastings Cup earlier in the year, there was little chance that Dublin would suffer from complacency on the night.
On a difficult evening for football, any concerns in Dublin proved prescient as the team lacked fluency from the outset, struggling with both the elements and any cohesion against a team who defensively were set up very strongly. Dublin received a major boost when Paul Mannion found Ciaran Kilkenny for a superbly taken goal in the 20th minute and an Emmet Ó Conghaile point soon after handed the hosts an interval lead.
The tightness of the first-half was mirrored upon the restart as both sides exchanged points but the breakthrough that Longford desperately required arrived in the 53rd minute with an unerring finish beyond Lorcan Molloy. Substitute Gavin Ivory offered Dublin hope with two late points but, despite the sending-off of their captain in the 58th minute, Longford clung on for a 1 – 6 to 1 – 5 victory.
The knock-out nature of the championship ensured there was no second chance for the Dubs. However, with the corresponding minor teams of 2011 and 2012 having reached All-Ireland finals, there is sufficient talent within the panel to prompt more optimistic thoughts for 2014.
Under 21 Hurling
Dublin’s ambitions for a Leinster U21 Hurling Championship title were left in shatters as they fell to Carlow in their provincial quarter-final at Parnell Park last June. Having reached successive All-Ireland minor finals over the previous two years, the Dubs were considered favourites to progress to a semi-final meeting with Wexford later in the month.
However, preparations had not been ideal, given the absence of key personnel from training due to both senior hurling and football commitments, leaving manager Shay Boland short of numbers in the build-up to the game. The Leaving Cert also deprived Dublin of eight panellists, including Cuala duo of Cian O’Callaghan and Colm Cronin, with the former having captained Dublin in their run to the All-Ireland Minor Hurling final last year. Others to miss out that evening included Robert Murphy, Oisín O’Rorke, Seán McClelland and Paul Winters.
Another fly in the ointment was the question surrounding the availability of senior panellists Danny Sutcliffe and Eamonn Dillon, who were preparing for the county’s Leinster Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final replay against Wexford four days later.
Nonetheless, a strong Dublin selection, including both Sutcliffe and Dillon, took the field on another inclement evening and the latter made his presence known when scoring a superb goal in the sixth minute. Sadly, the Dubs failed to build on that platform against a very powerful and talented Carlow side that had forced extra-time with Dublin in their corresponding Leinster Minor clash back in 2010. As a result, their more settled unit began to dominate affairs, particularly in the aerial battles.
Danny Sutcliffe, who captained the side, competed ferociously in driving Dublin forward but despite the St Jude’s player landing two sublime points from play, the hosts deservedly trailed by 0 – 9 to 1 -5 by the interval. Carlow’s advantage in experience, with many of their panel involved in the county’s National Hurling League Division 1B campaign, proved telling after the break.
Carlow took full advantage of a few missed scoring opportunites by Dublin with two successive points and despite Dublin replying through Sutcliffe and substitute Tom Devlin, the momentum continued with the visitors. Carlow were level by the 59th minute with a superb goal in injury time putting paid to Dublin’s provincial ambitions.
The parallels with their U21 footballers are obvious and despite the disappointment of their early exit, there are sufficient grounds for hope that Dublin can bounce back impressively from their disappointing year.
Fingal entered the Kehoe Cup and were defeated by a strong Dublin City University side in the opening round. The Kehoe Shield competition followed and Fingal were defeated by St. Patrick’s Training College, Drumcondra. However, both these games gave the team management an indication of their strength and they produced some outstanding performances to win Division 3A of the National Hurling League. My thanks to Michael Kennedy and his management team and Liaison Officer, Colm Crowley, for their dedication and commitment to the Fingal team.
The following is a record of the performances of our various teams in official competitions during the past 12 months:
Allianz Hurling League
23/02/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 1 – 20 Offaly 2 – 16
10/03/2013 Belfast Dublin 3 – 12 Antrim 1 – 10
16/03/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 15 Limerick 1 – 21
24/03/2013 Wexford Dublin 3 – 19 Wexford 0 – 15
31/03/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 3 – 15 Carlow 0 – 11
06/04/2013 Thurles Dublin 1 – 16 Limerick 1 – 15
21/04/2013 Thurles Dublin 0 – 17 Tipperary 4 – 20
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
09/06/2013 Wexford Dublin 1 – 17 Wexford 1 – 17
15/06/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 1 – 17 Wexford 0 – 12
23/06/2013 Portlaoise Dublin 0 – 17 Kilkenny 1 – 14
29/06/2013 Portlaoise Dublin 1 – 16 Kilkenny 0 – 16
07/07/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 25 Galway 2 – 13
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
11/08/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 19 Cork 1 – 24
Walsh Cup Senior Hurling
02/02/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 2 – 19 Galway 1 – 21
10/02/2013 Enniscorthy Dublin 1 – 19 Wexford 0 – 16
Allianz Football League
02/02/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 18 Cork 2 – 9
10/02/2013 Killarney Dublin 1 – 11 Kerry 0 – 4
02/03/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 14 Mayo 0 – 16
10/03/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 20 Kildare 2 – 7
16/03/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 14 Tyrone 0 – 18
23/03/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 15 Down 0 – 9
07/04/2013 Letterkenny Dublin 0 – 13 Donegal 1 – 10
14/04/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 16 Mayo 0 – 16
28/04/2013 Croke Park Dublin 0 – 18 Tyrone 0 – 17
Leinster Senior Football Championship
01/06/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 22 Westmeath 0 – 9
30/06/2013 Croke Park Dublin 4 – 16 Kildare 1 – 9
14/07/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 15 Meath 0 – 14
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
03/08/2013 Croke Park Dublin 1 – 16 Cork 0 – 14
01/09/2013 Croke Park Dublin 3 – 18 Kerry 3 – 11
22/09/2013 Croke Park Dublin 2 – 12 Mayo 1 – 14
O’Byrne Cup Senior Football
06/01/2013 Carlow Dublin 3 – 13 Carlow 1 – 12
09/01/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 3 – 16 U.C.D. 1 – 11
13/01/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 0 – 10 Wicklow 1 – 11
20/01/2013 Drogheda Dublin 4 – 15 Louth 0 – 10
26/01/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 0 – 17 Kildare 1 – 16
Leinster U21 Hurling Championship
11/06/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 1 – 11 Carlow 1 – 13
Leinster U21 Football Championship
19/02/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 4 – 27 Carlow 0 – 2
06/03/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 1 – 5 Longford 1 – 6
Leinster Minor Hurling Championship
04/05/2013 Tullamore Dublin 1 – 21 Offaly 0 – 11
22/06/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 2 – 7 Kilkenny 0 – 17
Leinster Minor Football Championship
13/04/2013 Drogheda Dublin 1 – 9 Louth 1 – 7 AET
11/05/2013 D.C.U. Dublin 0 – 17 Longford 0 – 9
06/07/2013 Parnell Park Dublin 3 – 13 Kildare 2 – 6
Allianz Hurling League
24/02/2013 Swords Fingal 0 – 15 Louth 1 – 12
10/03/2013 Inniskeen Fingal 2 – 10 Monaghan 1 – 9
16/03/2013 Omagh Fingal 2 – 11 Tyrone 0 – 15
23/03/2013 Croke Park Fingal 1 – 16 Fermanagh 2 – 10
31/03/2013 Letterkenny Fingal 2 – 11 Donegal 1 – 9
13/04/2013 Cavan Fingal 1 – 9 Donegal 1 – 5
Kehoe Cup Senior Hurling
20/01/2013 Russell Park Fingal 0 – 14 D.C.U. 3 – 15
Kehoe Shield Senior Hurling
28/01/2103 Alfie Byrne Pk Fingal 1 – 10 St. Patrick’s T.C. 3 – 12
A Victory for Style – and Substance
There is no sporting organisation quite like the GAA for debating, ad nauseam, not just who is winning what competition, but how. We are consumed by tactical trends, and maybe for a very good reason given how both football and hurling have changed over the past decade.
In football, ever since Armagh in 2002, quickly followed by Tyrone in ’03 made their All-Ireland breakthroughs, we have obsessed with the defensive make-up of teams. First, we had Armagh’s ‘blanket defence’, then Tyrone’s ‘swarm defence’ and, many years later, for one infamous game against our good selves, Donegal’s ’14-man defence’. In between, even the great aristocrats from Kerry, faced with the prospect of being left behind, modified their game-plan to take account of the new defensive realities.
Fastforward to 2013. 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. The sceptics may argue that it almost backfired in the first half of our All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry but Jim didn’t blink. Ultimately, he has proven that Gaelic football teams can be pretty on the eye as well as being pretty effective at the same time too … hence the clean sweep of National League, Leinster and All-Ireland titles all in the one season!
My own belief is that a manager has the fundamental right to set up his team in whatever manner he believes is most likely to bring reward – on the proviso, of course, that it’s within the rules and doesn’t discredit the Association.
This year, the Dublin footballers have brought credit to themselves and the wider GAA. We even enticed an unusually large number of neutrals … now that we’ve captured Sam again, one suspects their new-found devotion won’t last forever!
This year, we lost arguably the greatest Dublin personality of all-time, Kevin Heffernan. A quick glance as his achievements only partly tell the story of the man and his impact on Gaelic games both in the capital and the country at large – Dublin’s only member of the ‘Team of the Millennium’; one All Ireland inter-county senior football championship as a player; three League titles; Seven Railway Cups; 21 County Championships (between football and hurling), steered Ireland to Compromise Rules success in 1986 in Australia, and managed three All-Ireland winning sides (1974, 1976, 1983).
Kevin was ahead of his times as a player, a manager and an administrator – a visionary with a taste for evolution by revolution. He revolutionised the modern game of Gaelic football in both how players and teams operated but, also, in terms of the philosophy and psychology of our games. For his unparalleled devotion and contribution to Gaelic football and hurling, the Association at both local and national level will be forever indebted to him. Indeed, Irish society is also indebted to him for the way in which he lifted the awareness of Gaelic games and put it on a revered pedestal.
It was fitting that his beloved Dubs and St Vincent’s both enjoyed success this year – a fact that was not lost on the current Dublin panel and management, nor obviously in St Vincent’s. Congratulations to St. Vincent’s on winning the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship for the fifth time.
The speed of the modern game in both hurling and football has focused the spotlight ever more sharply on our inter-county referees. Refereeing decisions are played back, slowed down and analysed like never before. Is it possible for referees always to be in the best position to make a decisive call on whether a tackle is a free or not, whether a dispossession was clean or not? These close calls ultimately can have a very strong bearing on the outcome of a game. So I am posing the question would it be worth experimenting with two referees in the early season competitions such as the O’Byrne Cup and Walsh Cup (in Leinster)?
‘Plight’ of the Club Player
While Dublin have achieved great success in recent years at inter-county level in both hurling and football, to some degree, it has come at a cost to the club game and club players. In recent years, the inter-county calendar has dictated when we play our local championships. As a result, competitions often span half the season and finish in a sprint so that Dublin have representation in Leinster. While the inter-county teams are doing well, lots of club players feel it is futile to air their grievances too loudly or too publically.
However, there is no doubt that there is a growing amount of disillusionment and discontent among club footballers and hurlers at adult level. There is no doubt that it is a very difficult balancing act to perform but we must endeavour to put in place a schedule which does not isolate the club player. In football particularly, the standard of club football in the capital has brought both All-Ireland and provincial honours in recent seasons and it is not purely coincidental that the inter-county senior team has achieved so much in the same time spell, therefore, it is vitally important that this synergy is respected and improved on.
Three of the brightest stars in Dublin football – Paul Flynn, Ciarán Kilkenny and Jack McCaffrey – represented their country in October. All three were Irish debutantes and selection was richly deserved on foot of their stellar seasons in Sky Blue.
I, for one, don’t wish to rain on their parade … but what transpired, in Kingspan Breffni Park and especially Croke Park, left me wondering whether the otherwise elusive honour of playing for Ireland is sufficient reason to persist with the International Rules ‘experiment’.
And that is what it is … an experiment, albeit one conducted over three decades. It is, I believe, an ill-fated amalgam of two sports that will never quite gel into a cohesive game that can survive on its own two feet.
When the old ‘Compromise Rules’ was revived in 1998, I approached with an open mind and in fairness, initially at least, the “marriage” of Gaelic football’s finest and the cream of Australian Rules ticked plenty of boxes – it was novel, entertaining and, most important of all, it seemed to matter to both protagonists.
Now I’m far from sure. Rather, I’m pretty sure that while Ireland’s top players still relish the opportunity, the Aussies (a nation generally known for their ultra-competitive sporting zeal) have gone completely lukewarm. While clearly, drastic action was required to stamp out the violence that scarred the series of 2005 and 2006, the rule-makers probably went too far and we’ve ended up with an emasculated hybrid that has spawned landslide results watched by dwindling attendances in both hemispheres.
However noble the AFL’s gesture in selecting an all-indigenous team to tour Ireland this year, limiting your ‘pick’ to approximately 10 per cent of your playing population was always going to make an uphill task even more steep. Ultimately, in the longer term, it maybe also have caused even more damage to the health of the game.
To have any viable future, the AFL must select their strongest possible team, but will that be enough? At this juncture, it is difficult to see even such a radical move as replacing the round ball with an oval one will save it. Trying to squeeze in two Test matches into an autumn calendar already congested with county finals and various other important club matches is a perennial source of angst and divisiveness that won’t go away, as this year’s conflict involving Seán Cavanagh and the Tyrone county board underlined.
The two most crucial yardsticks, though, boil down to the product itself and its saleability. Is it worth watching? At present, I believe the answer is no. Are people watching it? 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?
Over a decade has passed since the Strategic Review Committee produced a wide-ranging report on the future direction of the GAA. This included many valid proposals and one other headline-grabbing recommendation – splitting Dublin in two. If their vision had become a reality, the Liffey would constitute our revised county boundary and instead of Rory O’Carroll and Bernard Brogan sharing in last September’s All-Ireland triumph, they might well have ended up marking each other at some juncture that summer. Perish the thought!
Thankfully, the SRC blueprint for the capital never came to pass. There was simply no way that the Dublin County Committee could embrace such a drastic measure … but, let us stress, opposition was not some knee-jerk response motivated purely by self-interest. Back then, and even more so today, we maintain that a strong and united Dublin is not just good for us but beneficial for the wider GAA family too.
We revisit this subject now for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a number of influential media commentators have resurrected the ’divide Dublin’ debate in recent times, most notably Colm O’Rourke who advocated such a move when writing in the Sunday Independent last February.
“At the moment, Dublin have a very exciting senior team with the introduction of many great young players. Sitting on the bench or not even getting a jersey in another team that would beat most other counties in Leinster. This is not a healthy situation for anyone but the players and management would certainly not want any change in the status quo until they have won at least one All-Ireland. This only goes to show that the best interests of the GAA in general and Dublin in particular are not the same on this topic,” the former Meath player-turned-pundit claimed.
Since then, of course, Dublin have added another senior All-Ireland – a second in three seasons – adding to our recent successes at minor and U21 level. Doubtless, this will fuel a fresh onslaught from the ‘split’ brigade … conveniently forgetting the fact that just one SFC title (in ’95) had been achieved over the 26-year period between 1984 and 2010.
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?
Finally, 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 be potentially catastrophic for the Leinster Council. The Dublin brand sells so we should be careful what we wish for.
The Black Card
As I write, Croke Park has recently launched its nationwide educational drive to ensure that all football referees, at club and county level, are fully au fait with the new rules coming into play from 1st January.
There are several important rule changes with the new five-second advantage and allowing a player to now score a point with an open hand being two welcome examples. But most of the focus, inevitably, will fall on the so-called black card, aimed at eradicating five clearly specified “cynical behaviour fouls”. These will now be punishable by a player’s removal for the remainder of the game.
A team will be allowed six subs per game (an increase of one) and you can replace a player who receives a black card, but only subject to a maximum of three. In other words, a team that keeps on committing cynical fouls will, eventually, pay a numerical price.
Most of you are now aware of the black card offences. The key ones include deliberating pulling down, or tripping, or body-colliding with an opponent after he has played the ball. In the long run, the implementation of this rule should be a positive development. Thankfully Gaelic football has evolved to a point where the crude hatchet man is an endangered species, but more insidious cynicism has been a blight on the modern landscape.
The debate over so-called rugby tackles reached a shrill crescendo with Joe Brolly’s TV tirade against Seán Cavanagh. Yet, the undeniable truth is that myriad players from countless counties in similar circumstances (no one can claim the high moral ground) would probably have committed the same offence as they strived to protect a lead. Why? Because the punishment didn’t fit their crime – they can take a meaningless yellow ‘for the team’.
That should now change, to at least some extent … but it would be naive to view the black card as a total panacea. So long as teams pick and choose their ‘cynical’ moments, they should be able to keep 15 men on the pitch most of the time. For the black card to succeed, referees must prove up to the job of differentiating between deliberate cynicism and an ‘accidental’ foul, otherwise chaos could reign. So long as they do that, the rule should work if for no other reason than one of the most basic motivations of all players – they want to play and that means staying on the pitch.
Once again I wish to acknowledge the huge contribution made by primary and secondary school teachers in the promotion of our games. I note that under the Haddington Road Agreement (which two of the three teacher unions at the time of writing have voted in favour of) extra working hours, known as “Croke Park” hours, will continue to be worked by teachers. I also note that according to the Minister for Education “a review of the usage of the Croke Park hours will begin in January 2014. The objective of the review is to ensure that the hours are used in a way which teachers see as productive and effective”.
I am aware that many teachers would see the continued promotion of our games as a productive and effective use of their time. In the circumstances, I would suggest that these hours, which would be spent improving the health and well-being of our young people and in the promotion of hurling, football and camogie, would be a far better use of the time involved than attending meetings which, anecdotally at least, have been said to be largely pointless.
Hawk Eye: Hero or Villain?
Raging rows about disputed wides and erroneously disallowed points are as old as the Association itself. This year, with the arrival of the Hawk-Eye score detection system for championship matches in Croke Park, we presumed such controversies were at an end, in GAA headquarters at least. How wrong we were.
The so-called glitch in the system that happened during an All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final last August was unfortunate for the GAA, who were entirely blameless. But it was particularly cruel on the young Limerick recipients of such a blatant miscarriage of justice.
In a contest that subsequently went to extra-time, they had a perfectly valid early point against Galway disallowed – not because Hawk-Eye technology was every bit as fallible as the human eye but, rather, because of human error in implementing this technology. All of the match-day settings had been adjusted to cater for hurling – bar one value for the Hill 16 posts which was set for football. Cue disaster, as conflicting readings led to a wrong decision.
Under GAA rules, Limerick’s various appeals always appeared doomed to failure. It is scant consolation for them, even now, but this controversy could be a blessing in disguise for the wider Association. It prompted a proper debate about the merits of using score technology but, more importantly, it should ensure against any future complacency over how such systems are overseen.
The bigger picture remains valid: a properly functioning score detection system is a positive development for the GAA in that it clears up this perennial grey area about the validity of points … as the Dublin hurlers discovered, to their advantage, during the Leinster final against Galway when Hawk-Eye overruled two erroneous decisions in their favour!
The Perils of Social Media
Forgive me if this sounds like the fearful reflections of an old fogey, but the Twitter world we inhabit today is a very different place from even that of five years ago. We now live in an age of instantaneous news (which is no bad thing) and instantly tweeted views on just about everything.
Now, regurgitating what you’ve just eaten for breakfast, via social media, may serve no public interest … but at least it won’t land the purveyor of such banal information in the cyberspace dock. The same cannot be said for comments posted in haste and repented forever.
This is why members of our Association, be they club or county board officers and especially players, must tread warily when it comes to what they say via social media, be it Twitter, Facebook or whatever their medium of choice. There is nothing inherently wrong with these incredibly useful tools – so long as they are used in a sensible and sober manner. Therein lies the problem.
Inter-county footballers and hurlers may be amateurs but they are still box office personalities. Their outpourings on Twitter are lapped up by many supporters/followers whom they have never once met. They are also forensically followed by various media organs. Thus, all it requires is one slip of the cursor or unguarded outburst to become back page news – or worse.
If you want an extreme example, just consider the recent furore that engulfed Ireland’s world champion walker, Rob Heffernan, following an offensive tweet about the Roma community. He subsequently apologised for his “knee-jerk reaction” without having read “the whole story” … he had also deleted the incendiary comment but that’s no safeguard in this age of the viral tweet.
Suffice to say, there is a need for constant player education regarding when and how to use social media – and, equally, how not. Some players go silent when they are in championship mode but tweet openly (often too openly) in the off-season. But in Twitterland, there is no such thing as the off-season.
The subject of the GAA striking a ‘pay-per-view’ TV deal has entered the public domain recently. However, I think most people would agree that it’s a matter the GAA would need to thread very carefully. In a sense ‘pay-per-view’ began when some of the games screened live on Setanta were not shown in all parts of the country on the free channel but a deal with Sky would change the ball-game a whole lot more.
One of the many idiosyncrasies of the Irish psyche would appear to be that ‘we’ have no problem paying to watch professional soccer or rugby players in action but we’d be a lot slower to take out a subscription to pay to watch “local” players who attend our local university, work in our local bank or teach in our local school. .
However, if a Sky deal does come to pass, GAA headquarters will need to illustrate to GAA members and supporters alike where the added finances are going to be spent. There are clubs throughout the country in financial difficulty, as well as others who need support as they upgrade their current facilities. Perhaps if a large portion of these finances were ring-fenced for club development, as well as coaching and games development with county boards, it is a move that would garner greater understanding.
The same argument could be made with regard to opening up GAA stadia to facilitate the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023. When the doors of Croke Park were opened to international soccer and rugby with the lifting of Rule 42, I think a lot of clubs felt that the flow of finances from the top down should have been greater than what actually materialised. Overall, we must ensure a greater spread of wealth from central coffers.
The ‘Spring Series’ initiative proved to be a great success initially with terrific crowds and entertainment providing superb value for money. It provided a vision of the future as those entrusted with the marketing and development of our games have to ‘think outside the box’ in order to grow the GAA “family”.
While the games were central to the success of the Spring Series with the players in both hurling and football certainly playing their parts with some superb displays and great drama, the occasions were also sporting events attended by many punters who probably would not have been ‘regulars’.
Unfortunately, our efforts to continue and expand the series for 2014 in order to promote our games in the city have been hindered, firstly, by the procrastination over the structure of the national hurling league and, secondly, by the absence of a co-ordinated fixture schedule. Regrettably, on the two weekends that it would be possible to host double headers with our football and hurling teams both teams are playing in different parts of the country.
The Dublin County Committee is endeavouring to make gaelic games a more attractive proposition all round. They are at the heart of what we do, and we have to continue to re-invent ourselves for our players and supporters. We are developing a core commercial drive within the organisation to help increase the numbers participating in our games and the flow of supporters through the turnstiles. This means making Parnell Park or Croke Park a more welcoming proposition for our Dublin fans. We need to get Central Council to remove the barriers that have interrupted the staging of double headers in the Spring Series.
Our thanks to Vodafone for their commitment and support to the Board since 2010. Their promotions during their contract were innovative and of huge assistance to us and they certainly added to the match day experience for fans. We had an excellent partnership and their initiatives where they replaced their corporate logo with that of a charity (SOS and Pieta House) on two occasions was greatly appreciated and delivered a timely boost for the promotion of mental health issues in Ireland.
Thanks, in particular, to CEO Anne O’Leary, Anne Mulcahy, Head of Brand & Marketing Communications, Paula Murphy, Marketing Operations Manager and Robert Hyand, Sponsorship Manager, for their support.
In October, we agreed a five-year sponsorship deal with AIG, one of the largest insurance companies in the country, as the new sponsors of Dublin GAA. The nature of the AIG deal means that for the first time ever, the Dublin Ladies football and Camogie teams will also come under the one sponsorship umbrella.
This sponsorship is a clear statement that AIG is committed to both the Irish insurance market and the Irish community for the long term. AIG is a blue chip organisation with a proven track record in sponsorship. They are going to be an exceptional partner and they fully understand what we are trying to achieve in Dublin. Currently, AIG are finalising their sponsorship activation plans which will promote GAA in the capital at all levels. We are very much looking forward to working closely with AIG and their General Manager, Declan O’Rourke, over the next five years to ensure this partnership is mutually beneficial.
Thanks also to the Herald for publishing a weekly supplement and to Coca Cola for being our Official Sports Drink Partner. O’Neill’s supply playing apparel for our county teams and the excellent service from Tony Towell and his staff is much appreciated. We are also indebted to a number of other sponsors who provide valuable financial assistance to the County Committee.
Format of Club Senior Championships
The format of our club senior football championship is an issue that I have raised in the past in my Convention reports and it’s one that needs to be both revisited and acted upon. There is a new format in place for the senior football championship with all first-round losers competing in a ‘B’ championship.
However, the time has surely arrived for a proper senior ‘A’ and, if required, a senior ‘B’ football championship. There are simply too many clubs in our championship currently as clubs seem intent on maintaining their status as ‘senior’ when, in fact, their needs and those of their players might be better served in a second tier competition where they could be more competitive and have a realistic chance of honours and, therefore, promotion. Frankly, there are plenty of clubs currently participating in the ‘A’ championship, which are out of their depth. I suggest that the senior ‘A’ championship be limited to 16 teams and to appease clubs who still wished to be considered ‘senior’, a proper ‘B’ championship with another 16, or more if desired, clubs competing.
All Ticket Matches
This year we were involved in all-ticket games commencing with the Spring Series and concluding on 28th September with the replay of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final. The demand for tickets during the summer months places a heavy burden on the staff, particularly when games are scheduled for consecutive weeks. September was a particularly difficult month as we had unprecedented demand for the All-Ireland Football Semi-Final against Kerry and the Final against Mayo. We also had both the Hurling final and replay to cater for. The collection and reconciliation of payments are also very time-consuming. The co-operation of all the clubs was appreciated, especially the individual club co-ordinators who have the unenviable task of satisfying their members’ requests. A special word of thanks to Fiona Waters for her exemplary commitment and assistance for the duration of the ticket season.
GAA Club Planning Programme
All GAA clubs should plan ahead for the future. Clubs need to plan for their long-term viability in order to sustain what they already have and to grow. A club plan is a document that is designed to give the club direction in the short to medium term and takes into account the internal strengths and weaknesses, the external opportunities and threats, and details strategies to address or build on these.
The GAA Club Planning Programme provides clubs with a structured approach to developing a plan. The main part of the programme is the club planning workshop, where all of the club’s members are invited to attend a facilitated workshop to discuss all aspects of club activity. There is a club plan template that can be downloaded from the GAA website.
The AGM is the most important meeting of the year in any club. This meeting should take place before the end of November (Rule 8.3 club constitution) so that it has taken place before the county convention.
Annually, I receive emails and phone calls from clubs enquiring about the procedures to be followed and the eligibility of members to contest various positions. In brief, club members are entitled to receive at least 28 days notice of the meeting and, at the same time, be advised that they may submit nominations for election to the Executive Committee and motions for consideration at the Annual General Meeting. The agenda, reports and nominations for election to the Executive Committee must be circulated ten days in advance of the meeting. Only full members, whose membership fees are paid before 31st March (or earlier if stated in the individual Club Constitution) can vote at the Annual General Meeting and be eligible for election to the Executive Committee.
Friends of Dublin Hurling
The Friends of Dublin Hurling continue with their excellent work including arranging transport for supporters to games around the country. The annual Awards evening was held in the Red Cow Hotel on 19th November and at this annual event, the Friends of Dublin Hurling recognise the achievements of our hurlers. Michael Carton won the ‘Senior Hurler of the Year Award’, Danny Sutcliffe won the ‘Young Hurler of the Year’ and Con Ryan received the ‘Hall of Fame Award’.
In addition, the work being done by clubs for the development of hurling in Dublin is recognised through the ‘Club of the Year’ awards at Senior (Ballyboden St. Enda’s and Juvenile (Skerries Harps) and also the School of the Year Scoil Fhursa, Cromcastle (Primary) and Coláiste Éanna (Secondary). I wish to acknowledge the commitment of Michael O’Grady and Tom O’Donnell and their committee to the promotion of hurling in the county.
Garda vetting, which is the pre-checking of an applicant’s background for criminal convictions or prosecutions, continued during the year as we continue to promote best practice in the recruitment and selection of persons to work with children in the GAA. Six thousand applications have been vetted and I want to acknowledge the excellent help and co-operation we received from all the clubs.
Press and Communications
I wish to thank our newspaper partner, The Herald, for their continued coverage of Dublin GAA. The Fingal Independent and local community newspapers also give excellent coverage and analysis of our games. It is important that juvenile games are covered prominently in these newspapers as it will help to retain the interest of our young members. Our thanks to the members of the press and radio for their co-operation during the year.
Our website www.hill16.ie has recently been relaunched following the start of our new sponsorship deal with AIG and will be further developed over the coming months. We also have a vibrant Twitter and Facebook following as we strive to help Dublin fans at home and abroad to keep up-to-date with the latest news and views on Dublin GAA.
Mick Hanley and Fergus Carroll from Dublin City fm (103.2) and Near fm (90.3) respectively, give wide coverage to our games with live broadcasts from both inter-county and club games.
Gerry O’Sullivan is stepping down as P.R.O. due to work commitments. Gerry produced the inter-county match programmes and the annual yearbook. An enormous amount of time is involved in compiling this data, pursuing clubs and individuals for articles, compiling statistics, editorially and proofing the final copy. We are very grateful to Gerry for his extraordinary commitment to his role as P.R.O,
I used to report annually that the lack of referees available to cover fixtures was a serious problem. However, that is no longer the situation. Coiste na Réiteoirí are responsible for the recruitment and training of referees in the county and have been very successful in enrolling new recruits to officiate at games. They are also responsible for the administration and development of refereeing in the county, including the assessment and classification of referees.
During November, Coiste na Réiteoirí arranged five seminars to brief referees on the changes to the rules of Gaelic Football which become operative from 1st January 2014. Over 200 referees attended and my thanks to Aidan Shiells and the trainers for providing this service and the committee for their work during the year.
Requests for the use of our county grounds continue to increase. Apart from our local competitions at adult and juvenile level, our grounds are utilised by Central and Leinster Council, Dublin and Leinster Colleges, Third Level institutions, International Rules, Camogie and Ladies Football Organisations, Cumann na mBunscol and Fingal Primary Schools.
The majority of championship games were played post our involvement in the All-Ireland championships and our county grounds were in excellent condition throughout, considering the volume of activity. I am indebted to our grounds-man, Noel Brady, for his efforts. Everyone wants to have the pitch in pristine condition for their game but no natural playing surface can cope with this schedule without damage to the pitch. Accordingly, at certain times of the year, it is necessary to close Parnell Park in particular. While it is understandable that the majority of clubs wish to play important games in Parnell Park, it is not possible to host all adult finals there, although every effort is made to host juvenile finals. I wish to thank Luke Lawlor and Paddy O’Toole for their work in O’Toole Park.
Attendances at the majority of championship games in Parnell Park were extremely disappointing during the year. The County Board and clubs both need to look at ways of promoting the games both to club members and members of the public through publicity in the club, around the local community, as well as media outlets like local newspapers and radio stations.
A special word of thanks to Patsy Kiernan for his attention to Parnell Park. His willingness to cater for the games programme, training sessions and all committee meetings are very much appreciated. Patsy also arranges a Coffee Morning in aid of St. Francis Hospice and a Mass for Deceased Members in Parnell Park annually. A sum of €17,000 was collected and donated to St. Francis Hospice this year.
The numerous games programmes staged in Parnell Park entail a significant amount of time for the essential preparation and planning. This involves communicating with all the statutory agencies to ensure the safety of all our patrons. I am also indebted to the very small team of regular stewards for their assistance, their attention to their different duties and their courtesy to our patrons, all of which adds to the presentation of our games. I would appeal to clubs to provide additional stewards for Parnell Park and to co-operate with requests from stewards.
Alfie Byrne Park
Alfie Byrne Park is a full sized, floodlit all weather facility situated beside Clontarf Dart Station. The facility opened in September 2010 and Dublin County Board, in partnership with Dublin City Council, have full access to the facility. Over 12 clubs use the facility regularly along with both primary and second- level schools. In addition to this, many of our Inter County Teams and Development Squads have used the facility for training and matches. It has been an invaluable asset to clubs, schools and county teams, particularly during inclement weather when grass pitches are often unavailable.
County Board Minutes
The Dublin county board minute books, covering the years 1908 – 1980, were deposited in the GAA Library and Archive (GAA Museum) in October 2011. The senior county board minute books have been fully catalogued by the GAA Archivist and, in 2013, these books were made accessible to the public, who can view them in the GAA Library and Archive’s dedicated and fully supervised reading room. A summary of the minute books and the application form to view them, can be found on the GAA Library and Archive’s website www.crokepark.ie/gaa-museum.
The minute books contain a record of each senior county board meeting and annual convention since 1908. Every major decision taken by the Dublin GAA is recorded in these books and, as such, the books are of huge interest to a wide variety of disciplines, including students, historians and journalists.
Of particular relevance to the current nationwide ‘Decade of Commemorations’ are the two minute books that cover the period 1913-1923. These minute books fully document how the Dublin GAA reacted to, and in some cases shaped, what became known as the ‘Irish Revolutionary Period’.
The Dublin minute books show that the staging of charity Gaelic matches, and competitions, was the most tangible sign of support provided by the Dublin GAA to the social and political challenges of the period. At their September 1913 meeting, the Dublin county board decided to ‘bring off a monster tournament…for the benefit of the men on strike or locked out, many of whom are either members or supporters of the GAA.’
This tournament, held in Jones Road on 12 October 1913, consisted of three games, (Parnells v Keatings (football), Davis v Raparees (hurling) and the Leinster Junior hurling semi-final between Wexford and Westmeath). The Freemans Journal reporting a large attendance although the Gaelic Athlete estimated that only £35 was raised. Similarly, in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, the Dublin GAA ran a countywide competition, throughout 1917, for the benefit of the Irish National Aid and Volunteers Dependants Fund (popularly known as ‘National Aid’). Collegians won the hurling competition while Lawrence O’Toole’s won the football competition with a total of £39.13.15 raised for National Aid. The Dublin inter-county hurling team subsequently won the All-Ireland National Aid Hurling Final.
Throughout the Irish War of Independence, the Dublin county board participated in the hurling and football competitions established for the more Sinn Féin-centric Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund (I.R.P.D.F.). Fundraising continued following the Irish Civil War with the Dublin County Board holding a football match between ‘city born’ (chosen by O’Tooles) and ‘country born’ (chosen by Kickhams) footballers in Croke Park, on 3 February 1924, in aid of the Released Prisoners Fund. This match, won by the ‘country born’ on a score of 4-06 to 2-03, was well-attended and raised a ‘substantial’ amount ‘in aid of the Dublin area prisoners.’
The Dublin minute books record the contribution the Dublin GAA made to Gaelic Sunday, which was the GAA’s response to the British authorities’ interruption and curtailment of Gaelic games throughout the country in 1918. Following the central council’s instruction to county boards to stage a nationwide series of localised games on 4 August 1918, the Dublin county board, at their 30 July 1918 meeting, scheduled a series of county-wide games, including two intermediate football matches (St. Sylvesters v Fintan Lalors and Parnells v Glasthule Mitchels) in Croke Park. These carried the added directive that ‘all fixtures will be at 3 o’clock…and any team not turning up at the appointed venue will be suspended.’
This was a brave move by the Dublin GAA as the staging of Gaelic games in the national stadium was bound to attract the attention of the authorities. All games in Dublin were carried out successfully, including those at Croke Park, which, according to the Freemans Journal, ‘were decided…in [the] presence of a very large gathering of spectators. Outside the main entrances of the ground a few members of the [Dublin Metropolitan Police] were on duty, but there was no interference whatsoever with the progress of the contests on the part of the authorities.’
At the following Dublin convention, held in December 1918, Lorcan O’Toole, Dublin Secretary, congratulated the Dublin clubs and reported that the ‘determination of the members of the G.A.A. in Dublin and throughout the country on this question soon made the Government realise their mistake, and their order was withdrawn after a couple of weeks.’
The single biggest event connecting the GAA to the revolutionary period is Bloody Sunday, 21 November 1920. On this occasion British troops entered Croke Park, where Dublin and Tipperary were playing a challenge football match, in aid of the Irish Republican Prisoners Dependants Fund, and shot dead fourteen people. Similar to other minute books held by the GAA Library and Archive, (Central Council and Leinster Council books in particular), the Dublin minute books do not divulge any great detail of the day itself. At their 3 November 1920 meeting the Dublin county board agreed to accept the challenge from the Tipperary team, issued through the newspapers. At the 24 November 1920 meeting, ‘A vote of condolence was passed with the relatives and friends of those who lost their lives at Croke Park on Sunday last, and as a mark of respect it was decided to have no fixtures of any kind in the city or county of Dublin on Sunday next, November 28th.’
The Dublin county board was directly affected by the Irish Civil War. Harry Boland had been the chairman of the county board since 1911, but in 1919, owing to Boland’s frequent absences, he was appointed Honorary President of the county board. At the 2 August 1922 county board meeting, A.C. Harty, chairman of the county board, ‘in concluding the meeting, said it was his melancholy duty to propose a vote of condolence with the mother and family of the late Mr. Harry Boland, on his tragic death. As they were all aware, the late Mr. Boland was Chairman of the Board for several years up to a few years ago, when he was elected Hon. President. His activities, both in the field and Council room, were well known to them and it was with very great regret it fell to his lot to propose this vote of sympathy.’ All Dublin GAA members were requested to assemble at Earlsfort Terrace on 3 August 1922 to accompany Boland’s remains from St Vincent’s Hospital to Carmelite Church, Whitefriar Street.
Since the Dublin county board minute books have been made available to the public, they have been in constant demand, by third-level students (Irish and international) in particular. In 2014, the GAA Library and Archive will issue a policydocument to every GAA club, inviting clubs to deposit their records and archives in the centralised GAA Library and Archive.
Cuimhne na Marbh
Sadly, during the past year, a number of our colleagues were called to their eternal reward. I know I will be excused if I refer to a number of people that I knew personally – Jimmy McDermott, Seán Whelan, Christy Oonan (all Parnells), Clem Foley (Colmcilles), Christy Foran (Ballyboughal), Tom Donoghue (Ballymun Kickhams), Robert Delves (St. Maur’s), Martin Lawlor (Cabinteely), Bill Quane (St. Brigid’s), Paddy McConnell (Naomh Mearnóg), and Donal Bohane (Scoil Uí Chonaill). To all our members who suffered bereavements, I want to convey my sincere sympathy.
Rita O’Connor gave outstanding service to Liffey Gaels and served on many county sub-committees. She was a regular, committed steward in Parnell Park for several years and continued to attend notwithstanding her ill health.
The sudden death of another steward, Gerry Whyte, in November came as a great shock as he officiated at the County Final the previous day and also visited Parnell Park on the morning of his passing. Gerry also stewarded in Croke Park and was always very helpful and obliging.
The death occurred also of Ciaran Maher who played with Ballyboden St. Enda’s and represented Dublin at all grades winning an All-Ireland medal in 1983. Ciarán emigrated to Boston and became immersed in Shannon Blues GAA Club.
I’d like to give a special mention to Joan Kiernan, wife of Patsy, who sadly passed away earlier this year. She was firstly a wife and mother to her family but her generosity of spirit and helpfulness extended to all in the community. This was particularly evident in her GAA activities, be they in Parnells or here with us in Parnell Park. Together with Patsy, they were the driving force behind our Hospice endeavours as well as providing a warm and hospitable welcome to all visitors to our County Ground. Along with all our deceased, she is sadly missed by all of us.
It is heartening to witness the community solidarity and support by GAA clubs at funerals and I’m sure that anyone who has had a bereavement appreciates this support.
I wish to thank our Chairman, Andy Kettle, for his assistance and support during the year. Andy has worked tirelessly in the past year and was always willing to attend any operational / sponsorship / business / provincial or central committee meetings during the year. He was also elected to the management committee in Croke Park during 2013 for a three year term. Andy often remarked to me during the year that one of the great privileges of being Chairman of the County Board is visiting clubs around the county and seeing, at first hand, the great work that is going on with so many enthusiastic volunteers.
Thanks also to Seán Shanley and Jim Roche for their help and assistance and their willingness to attend fixtures or meetings, as required. I would like to pay a personal word of thanks to Paula – and all the office staff – for their continued support and loyalty. The work of Strategic Programme Manager, Kevin O’Shaughnessy, and Gerard O’Connor, Games Manager, and their team is appreciated as they face the challenges of increasing our participation rates and establishing new clubs.
I am indebted to Finbarr O’Mahony for the ongoing outstanding commitment he gives as Board Treasurer, resulting in another operating surplus this year in a very challenging environment. All financial matters are handled smoothly and efficiently by Finbarr.
I wish to thank Gerry Harrington and Noel Murphy for representing us diligently during the year at Leinster Council. It is important to have individuals of experience on these provincial committees.
I wish to acknowledge the support that I received during the year from the Árd Stiúrthóir, Páraic Duffy, and his staff. Michael Delaney, Michael Reynolds and their colleagues at Áras Laighean are always on hand to give assistance when called upon. John Horan (Na Fianna) is the incoming Leinster Council Chairman and we wish him every success in his three year term.
A special word of thanks to Michael Seavers, John McNicholas, Carol Monahan and the members of the Competitions Control Committee for their work in scheduling and implementing a games programme for our players. Also to Colm Crowley and Tom O’Shea and the members of Coiste Éisteachta for the huge volume of work undertaken during the year. Thanks also to the members of our various sub-committees for their commitment.
I wish to acknowledge the efficiency of Damian Murphy and Kathleen McPoland of Coiste na nÓg. A special word of thanks also to all the board officers, delegates and club officials for their dedication and co-operation with me during the past year.
I must again express appreciation on behalf of all involved in our game for the commitment of time and expertise by the many voluntary administrators at club and county level. Our games cannot function without them.
A busy year indeed! Finally, I would like to finish by paying tribute to the legions of team mentors who, week in and week out, perform minor miracles to keep our games healthy and growing in Dublin.
Seán Mac Coisdealbha