Tomás Quinn is not a man for looking back, in any aspect of his life.
A retired Dublin footballer, for the last 16 months, there has been inevitable speculation about a u-turn, given his tremendous club form with AIB All-Ireland finalists, St Vincent’s.
Club colleague and Dubs legend Jimmy Keaveney has suggested that the least county boss Jim Gavin should do is ring the 32-year old attacker and enquire about his summer plans.
But while the form is clearly still there — Quinn shot 1-8 against Ballinderry in the recent All-Ireland semi-final win — the will isn’t. Quinn says it’s full steam ahead now with Vincent’s only and his outlook is similar when it comes to his new role as Dublin GAA’s commercial and marketing manager. It is a new and unique appointment in Gaelic games and Quinn is excited about exploring uncharted territory. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the penny dropped for all counties of the need to simply protect their county crests from rogue traders by establishing patented ones which couldn’t be reproduced.
But what Dublin are seeking to do now and in coming years is leagues ahead and, potentially, could put them out on their on own as the predominant GAA brand.
The appointment of Quinn and Mike Farnan, their new senior consultant in the area of marketing, is in line with the recommendations contained in their Blue Wave action plan of 2011 to install commercial experts.
That plan stated that there is “strong potential” to make Dublin GAA the most “recognised and valuable sports brand in Ireland”.
Leinster rugby has been suggested as an obvious rival in the capital alone in branding terms for Dublin.
Quinn said: “People compare it (Dublin) to Leinster and Manchester United but the GAA is very different.
“First and foremost, the players with those teams are professionals. You’ve got to remember the players playing for Dublin are amateur players, so in terms of commercial deals, you can’t do a deal and tell a player he has to do something. You’d never try and get to that level. So there is going to be significant differences. In terms of where Dublin can go, I see a lot of potential for growth. Going where Leinster go? We wouldn’t be looking at them and saying we’re going to copy what they do. But you’re obviously aware of other sports and the GAA can learn from other sports, not just Leinster, on our doorstep, but you can learn from all other organisations out there and see if there’s little things you can do to improve.”
One obvious suggestion to push brand Dublin is to create a superstore somewhere in the capital. Quinn shrugged.
“I’m six weeks in the job and no more than anything, you could sit on a bar stool and throw ideas out to do with Dublin and they’re probably all right. But it’s actually about putting a strategy together to deliver on them, it’s about putting the building blocks in. There’s no point in just saying we’re going to have a superstore. You actually have to figure out what is the best way of doing it. How do we deliver on it? Is it sustainable and is it something that’s definitely going to be still there in four or five years’ time?
“What’s the point in having a shop and it going bust in a month?
“We’re reviewing everything at the moment and if it works for us, you might see it.
“But, as it stands, I don’t know is the answer to that.”
In GAA terms, a county would appear to be limited in marketing terms by its county boundary. Quinn isn’t so sure about that in Dublin’s case. He said: “I don’t know if it’s limited (to Dublin), that’s one of the things we have to look at. First and foremost, we’re trying to serve the people within the county. But there’s thousands of Irish people around the world who associate with GAA. Our organisation is a brilliant one for how it connects people. Is there different opportunities (outside Dublin) that you can look at? I don’t know but we can ask the question and see.”
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