Hot takes and potshots overshadow substance in John Costello's report

Dublin GAA chief suggests changing to 13-a-side to curb defensive systems

BY Darren Cleary 3 days ago, 12:42 6 Dec 2018

Dublin GAA chief executive John Costello believes criticism of the senior team in 2018 unfair.

The top ranking GAA official took exception to Jim Gavin's players being labelled 'robots', 'automatons' and 'emotionless' by some commentators.

In his annual report Costello writes: "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!

“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?”

Costello also tackled the idea that Dublin’s success is down to money between 2007 and 2017 the county received over €16million in games development grants - that’s €15 million more than the next best funded county - Cork.

Beaten All Ireland finalists Tyrone received €560k in that time. Dublin also pocketed €12.76 million in funding from the Sports Capital Programme funding, which totals almost €56 million.

Dublin’s chief executive John Costello dismissed the suggestion though that the funding offers Dublin an unfair advantage:

“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% in football and 98% in hurling and 11,500 fixtures scheduled annually for children in the Under 8 to Under 12 age groups.

“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.

“We all learned to join the dots in the early years of primary school but we didn't all make it to the status of artists like Jack B. Yeats!”

He also likened two of the leading GAA analysts in the country as 'Statler and Waldorf', the Muppet characters known for their cantankerous opinions and shared penchant for heckling.

The two elderly men first appeared in The Muppet Show in 1975, where they consistently jeered the entirety of the cast and their performances from their balcony seats:

“Football and hurling are two separate sports, under the one sporting umbrella, and that should be reflected more in analysis. Constantly comparing the two will inevitably result in misleading conclusions.

“In a summer just passed the comparison of hurling and Gaelic football was always going to make the 'big ball game' look like the ugly duckling. But even that is interesting. When a game of hurling is not of five-star quality, the analysis will more often than not concentrate on positives within the game, the defensive work, the hooking/blocking, or some individual acts of great skill.

"Less so in football, where the implementation of defensive tactics make it a more difficult game to score in, and such strategies seldom enjoy success in hurling because of the long-range accuracy of players on summer days. Unfortunately when it comes to football, more of a 'Statler and Waldorf' tone is set from the get-go by some of Gaelic football's leading analysts, if the game does not enrich our summer afternoons. This tone spreads like St Brigid's cloak and by midweek the end of the world is nigh!”

Costello claims he is apprehensive about the new rules and mooted the idea of 13 a side game being a viable alternative to curbing defensive styles. He argues it could alleviate some gridlock without altering any other rules.

“While we should never be afraid or reluctant to embrace the challenge of new rules, it is with equal measures of interest and apprehension that I await the trial period of the new rules. From the outset it should be stated that no rule changes will affect the footballing philosophy of managers/coaches who worship at the altar of massed defences and the more negative game-plans that certainly have become more prevalent in the past few seasons.

“And I'd argue certainly that some of the current trial rules won’t either. I thought it would be more interesting if a 13-a-side game was trialed without any alterations to the playing rules to see if it would alleviate some of the gridlock that sometimes permeates Gaelic football.”

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