Gavin urges review of training ban

Dublin manager Jim Gavin has called on the GAA to review its closed season ban after his side needed special dispensation in order to play a charity match in Belfast next month.

The ban, which prevents his squad from resuming collective training sessions until December, impinges on his side’s preparations for next season.

“I’m not in favour of Croke Park putting bans on teams, I don’t think it’s right,” he said at the launch of the game between Dublin and an Ulster select side which takes place on November 15 at Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby.

“I think, almost without exception, inter-county managers at the elite level have a very good working knowledge of sports science, and certainly my players will have their own individual programmes with their county and with their clubs.

“We won’t go back collectively regardless of any restrictions on collective training until December. It just happens that this game will be part of our close season, so we’re just delighted to get the chance to come to Antrim to play this game.”

Gavin also backed mooted changes to the Leinster SFC, which last night proposed a round robin element to their format and Gavin believes that playing more games would benefit all the province’s teams.

“My take on it is there has to be more games, that’s the bottom line.

“It is unacceptable that teams might only play two games considering the preparation that goes into it, so we all acknowledge that a new format is needed. Change is constant, we see it in society and in our own sport, so we need to move ahead.”

International Rules commitments will rule several Dublin stars out of the game in Belfast, which aims to raise funds for a trust set by former Antrim football captain Anto Finnegan, who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Describing Finnegan as “one of life’s heroes”, Gavin compared the historic staging of a GAA match at the old Ravenhill rugby ground (Gaelic games were played at the venue before it was bought by Ulster Rugby in 1924) to the GAA’s decision to grant Sky Sports live coverage of Gaelic games this summer.

“Part of the GAA’s mission statement was to promote Gaelic games and promote Irish culture.

“The GAA has taken a brave step to promote its games on a TV station that is in the UK and it has proven to be the right move. And to play in an iconic stadium like Kingspan Stadium is a great opportunity to promote Gaelic games, but first it is about promoting sport. I played rugby, soccer, Gaelic games growing up and I’m thrilled I can bring a group of county players here next month.”

Asked whether he felt the game should be 13-a-side due to the tighter dimensions of the rugby pitch at Kingspan Stadium, Gavin quipped: “All I know is when we play Ulster sides we need our 15 players. Maybe we can play 15 and they can play 13! But the pitch is a little tighter so whatever the organisers feel is best. There are a couple of grounds in Dublin that might be this tight and we might need different tactics for the day itself.”


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