County GAA Secretary's Take On The Game

You might think GAA scribes have it handy. Turning up at matches of a Sunday and carping on about what they've seen, the state of the game etc.

However part of the territory includes covering county board matters.

The GAA is a democracy. Built on community activity and grass roots engagement.

Whether it's a club meeting or a county board meeting or annual congress, what goes on in the board rooms around the country and at Jones road can have a big bearing on your experience of the game.

Some scribes have noted that attending many of these meetings should be served up as a penance for any mortal sins in this life.

Every so often though nuggets can emerge which either provide a snapshot of the game or grass roots sentiment.

There is no question that among the 31 other counties on the island of Ireland and with international units one of the biggest talking points is the Dubs.

Will they be stopped? How did they do it? How did they get there?

Hence when the secretary of the Dublin GAA county board issues his report for the county convention it's scrutinised for insights.

This year John Costello doesn't disappoint with insights on the row over Croke Park as a 'neutral venue' for the Dubs Super 8's fixtures, suggestions Jim Gavins side are 'robots' and rule changes.

Everyone has a view on TV pundits who share their views on the modern game and these columnists are among those on Costelloe's radar.

'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.

'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! 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?' writes Costello.

The issue of funding Dublin also triggers much debate and Costello wants to put the record straight. 

'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.'

In his 2018 State Of The GAA Nation address, Costello has his say on the issue of Croke Park as a venue for the Dubs Super 8s fixtures.

'You might accuse me of bias when I resist the argument that Croke Park cannot be considered an appropriate venue for hosting any neutral quarter-final fixture involving Dublin.

'I still believe the Super 8s deserve an audition on the biggest stage and that all four neutral games should be played at HQ – but not on the first weekend, rather the last. One obvious weakness in this year’s structure was the fact that Donegal opened their campaign with two games on the road, against Dublin and Roscommon, hence their understandable anger.

'They were, after all, Ulster champions – is that due reward? The danger, here, is that Donegal could have been eliminated even before hosting a game.

'As it transpired, when it came to the crunch, they lost to Tyrone in Ballybofey … but that doesn’t mask the unfairness of a scenario that was designed to foster a competitive roundrobin series but has had the effect of punishing provincial champions.' says the GAA Official.

New rules will be trialled in gaelic football in the new year and it remains to be seen if they will make it to the Allianz Leagues but Costello has his own suggestion.

'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 trialled without any alterations to the playing rules to see if it would alleviate some of the gridlock that sometimes permeates Gaelic football.'

So some of the key points from the annual report of one of the key figures in GAA.

You're welcome.