Sport: Why the possibility of Dublin winning the Football and Hurling All- Irelands can only be a good thing for GAA

Originally published by, Friday 5th July, 2013. To read the original, please click here

United we stand: The Dublin senior football team.

WHILE THE PROFILE  of Dublin hurling has been on the rise since Dublin’s 2011 National Hurling League victory, it was last weekend’s genuinely historic 1-16 to 0-16 semi- final replay win over the seemingly unconquerable and dominating Kilkenny hurlers that has brought the Dubs to a different level and blown the hurling championship wide open. In a sport desperately crying out for new champions and more competition, it isn’t impossible that Dublin could win the All- Ireland Hurling Championship. Should the Dublin senior football team, who continue to dominate Leinster and looked awesome against Kildare, last weekend, win this year’s All- Ireland Football Championship, it would be the first time since Cork’s 1990 double- win that a county has won both the hurling and football titles.

A rare case of Dublin GAA venturing for managers outside of the county, the success in recent years of the Dublin hurlers is no doubt down to Clare man Anthony Daly, who captained Clare to All- Ireland victories in 1995 and 1997. That said, the 2011 All- Ireland win for Dublin footballers also brought a fever and momentum of support to the county which hadn’t been seen during the years in which the All- Ireland football championships continued to be dominated by Tyrone, Armagh, Kerry and Cork. It is, quite simply, a case of Dublin hurlers catching up with their successful footballing counterparts.

True, many still see Dublin supporters as fair-weather supporters who wouldn’t travel to league matches and turn up, in the summer months, on Hill 16, 2 litre bottle of Bulmers in hand, when the going is good. That said, a double win for the nation’s capital could only great for a sport that has long been characterized as “bog ball” or a sport exclusively for “culchies” and has previously lost ground to rugby and soccer. With competition for places rife in the Dublin football team and pressure on Dublin hurlers to deliver and capitalize on last week’s unprecedented win over Kilkenny, The Dubs might just pull the double out of the bag.

Sport: GAA Managers under the spotlight: Who will / won’t still be at the helm at the end of the Championship?

Originally published by, Monday 24th June, 2013. To read the original, please click here

GAA Managers under the spotlight: Who will / won’t still be at the helm of their county football team by the end of the Championship?

Though it’s fair to say that GAA managers are given much more grace than their soccer neighbors across the Irish Sea, GAA football supporters and pundits alike have no problem in telling their managers, and the members of the county board who appoint said managers, when it’s time to leave the party.

Let’s have a look at some of those whose future could be decided when the dust eventually settles on this year’s GAA All- Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Kieran McGeeney – Kildare

The All- Ireland winning Armagh captain, who proved to be an outstanding leader on the pitch, has similarly brought Kildare out of the doldrums of their most recent, post- Mick O’Dwyer heyday. That said, there’s a feeling that until McGeeney secures a Leinster title that Kildare will never pose any real threat to other teams in the Championship. Sure, they were unlucky in the 2010 and 2011 Semi and Quarter finals, respectfully; those games were there for the taking. But with McGeeney’s future to be discussed in September with the Kildare county board, an unsuccessful Championship campaign might find the former Armagh workhorse jaded and frustrated and looking at other teams that he can similarly lift to point where they provide a degree of competition to an increasingly dull Leinster Provincial Championship.

Conor Counihan – Cork

Visibly disappointed and “annoyed” with his side’s recent scrape- victory against Mick O’Dwyer’s Clare, Counihan may feel he has taken Cork as far as he can in recent years. Having brought Cork their first All Ireland in 20 years in 2010 and lost last year’s All- Ireland semi- final to 2012 champions Donegal, Counihan has brought in some fresh talent and Cork continue have forwards, such as Daniel Goulding and Brian Hurley which any county team would proudly have in their starting 15. With a provincial decider against Kerry 3 weeks away, Counihan will no doubt be under no small degree of pressure to get his men into the shape and style of All- Ireland Winning Champions.

Jim McGuinness – Donegal

Celtic boss Neil Lennon recently attempted to dismiss claims that Jim McGuinness’ secondary role as a part- time performance consultant for the Scottish soccer side was leading to a lack of focus in his role as Donegal’s All- Ireland winning manager. However, McGuinness was said to be nervous ahead of Donegal’s recent victory over Tyrone and there are short amount of pundits, players and opponents who’d be happy to their knives out for the Glenties man.

Mickey Harte – Tyrone

No longer the powerhouse they once were, Tyrone have lost too many key players and have not been able to adjust to the game, post- Jim McGuinness. There’s also a distinct lack of fresh talent coming into the county team; their recent defeat to Donegal showing that Tyrone, who haven’t been able to break into an All Ireland Final in recent years, are simply a spent force. Harte recently blasted Sunday Game pundits, who include Colm O’Rourke, Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane, for the “utter contempt” that he believes they continue to show, which could be a sign that Harte is ready to leave the sometimes unkind limelight that comes with being a GAA manager.

Mick O’Dowd – Meath

There’s no questioning that Mick O’Dowd, ratified as Meath’s sixth manager in nine years in October 2012, will still be Meath manager after the championship comes to a close. However, the pressure and the weight of expectation on O’Dowd from supporters of the once- great football team, which has been in a state of perpetual upheaval and transition for over ten years, now, will no doubt be something of which he and his back room are acutely aware. Meath still boast fantastic talents, such as Brian Farrell, Joe Sheridan and younger players such as Graham Reilly and Eamonn Wallace. But Meath still lack that class; that flair and creativity that teams like Kerry, Donegal and Dublin have in spades. If O’Dowd can knit the team together to play the full 70 minutes, he might just keep those doubters at bay.