ALLIANZ FL DIVISION 1:
Dublin V Mayo
Dublin manager Jim Gavin says there is no convincing evidence to suggest the county should be split into two teams.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last week after his U21 footballers’ 37-point defeat to Dublin, Carlow chairman Michael Meaney said Dublin were on a different playing field to all the other Leinster counties at underage level.
Former GAA president Christy Cooney has regularly put forward the idea of dividing the county into two. However, Gavin doesn’t see any reason why Dublin should lose its identity and insists their success at underage level has only been brief and recent.
“From the senior level first of all, one All-Ireland title in 17 years speaks volumes for the dominance of the Dublin senior football team, or lack of, and I don’t think when Kerry were dominant in the 2000s or Kilkenny and Cork were dominant in the hurling, that there was any talk of splitting those counties into two.
“I’m not surprised to hear it but I just think you have to look at the pure stats of even how many All-Ireland finals we have competed in. Mayo have competed in more than we have in the last few years.
“At underage level, yeah, Dublin have been dominant, but only in the last few years. There is not a decade trend there.
“In most Leinster counties there has been a hell of a lot of good work done in all of those underage grades and I think you’ll see some of those teams come through in the next few years.”
Only an unprecedented and highly unlikely run of success at senior level would give cause for concern at Dublin’s size, says Gavin.
“If we’re dominant for a decade then you might look back but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
“It doesn’t wash with me to say we have a dominance because there’s 6.5 million people on the island and we’ve got 20% of that in the capital. There’s not 20% of the population [in Dublin] playing Gaelic games.”
With two wins from two, Dublin sit pretty atop Division 1 going into tomorrow evening’s game against Mayo in Croke Park. It’s the first of four games in as many weeks in HQ and a first meeting with James Horan’s side since last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Mayo have become something of a bogey team for Dublin but Gavin isn’t buying into the idea tomorrow’s visitors have an Indian sign over them.
“That has no resonance at all. We have different fellas here this year than were there last year, a different style of play and it’s many moons ago.
“A lot has happened since then.”
Gavin confirmed Alan Brogan and Bryan Cullen are progressing well having returned to training later than the rest of the panel. However, Rory O’Carroll will not be considered for inclusion as he lines out with UCD in today’s Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final.
The timing of the competition is a thorny subject for Gavin. “You talk about dual players and the whole concept of having the Fitzgibbon Cup the same weekend as the National Football League blows that argument out of the water for me because the fixtures don’t communicate with each other.”
Gavin admitted the Ballymun Kickham players he will call into the panel after their All-Ireland final against St Brigid’s on St Patrick’s Day are also victims of a condensed GAA calendar.
“The Ballymun lads are at a disadvantage, as are the lads playing Sigerson. I’ve said before that the way the league fixtures are set-up, it shouldn’t start until after the Sigerson competition. Same with the club championship, that needs to be reviewed as well. Counties are at a disadvantage. But it is a disadvantage to the club players because they can’t play with their counties. To get that balance right there is only one way and that is to split the fixture list.”
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