The relatively surprising resignation of Jim Gavin as Dublin senior football manager in late 2019 provided the GAA community as a collective with an opportunity to both reflect on Jim Gavin’s exceptional legacy and understand his critical role in the facilitation of Dublin’s dominance and the rise of players who have become icons within their sport.
Gavin can be credited with implementing a culture of honesty and humility, a defining aspect of Dublin’s enduring success.
However, his departure and the junction which Dublin football now finds its self is an ideal opportunity for the GAA to confront Dublin’s depressing dominance.
When Kerry captured the Sam Maguire in 2009 after a convincing victory over a Cork team who would return to the summit of inter-county football the following year, few could have possibly imagined that a Dublin team painfully deprived of All-Ireland success during the 2000s would emerge as the team of the next decade.
Moreover they have retained the Sam Maguire for an unprecedented five times consecutively, having made the Leinster championship void of any real competition and having accumulated a record number of All-Star awards.
It would not be an overstatement to suggest that this Dublin team are the single greatest GAA team in the more than 100 years of history of the association.
However, even the most ardent of Dublin supporters will concede that the prospect of Dublin winning six and seven All-Ireland championships in a row is somewhat counterproductive to the enjoyment of our national game at its elite level.
The approach taken by the GAA in confronting Dublin’s dominance, as part of a collective effort to ensure that genuine competition in the annual quest for the Sam Maguire does not become totally extinct, must be one based on logic and not emotion.
As Ireland’s capital Dublin’s population will continue to grow rapidly over the next 10 years.
As a consequence, Dublin’s direct GAA funding, commercial partnerships, and internal fundraising efforts enable them to establish an essentially professional environment within an amateur sport.
This is something not attainable for any other county.
At the root of Dublin’s success is athletic talent and ability on a broad scale, a commodity which is not purchased.
But the ability of Dublin to invest in world-class training facilities, attract the most qualified coaching staff, and crucially pick from a player pool which would provide at least two highly competitive inter-county football teams, will ensure Dublin can replicate this same success for some time unless the GAA is proactive in its response.
In contradiction to my argument, many GAA members will highlight that Kilkenny were the singular dominant force in hurling for the best part of two decades.
My response: In the modern era for any inter-county team to win five consecutive All-Ireland championships is a watershed moment and must be treated as such.
I am an advocate for the ideals of capitalism and find I am opposed to the socialist ideals of limiting natural progress.
But an economy cannot function effectively without core pillars of competition and the same is true in sport.