First things first, the very best of luck to Declan Bonner on his appointment as manager of the Donegal senior team. As someone who has both played with and under Declan I know the enthusiasm and passion he takes to the job. He will, as many will confirm, do everything in his power to make sure that Donegal will be successful.
It will be up to everyone from county board, supporters, sponsors and especially the players to get behind Declan and his management team, as another rebuilding process has to take place with the majority of the 2012 lads gone.
It will take time and patience from everyone involved but I have no doubt the Na Rossa man will pull out all the stops to make sure the green and gold are back where they belong.
Last Sunday as I opened the Sunday papers expecting to read about the great Dublin team who had achieved the first three in-a-row since the great Kerry team of the mid-eighties, instead it was nothing but criticism of the way the Dublin manager conducted himself after the final whistle and in the press conference afterwards.
I thought I missed something so I went back and looked to see what sort of controversy Jim Gavin has created. It seems Jim, not noted for his wild celebrations at the end of any game didn’t come across as happy enough for the core of national journalists.
Gavin is a quiet man; he does not do the Sam Maguire circuit; he has been manager now on four occasions when Dublin have won the All-Ireland and I have yet to see him holding the Sam Maguire on his own.
I have heard him interviewed on many occasions and his line is simply that it is for the players and the supporters.
However, some in the media have taken offence to this. They question why. Where is his emotions? They question whether he has any empathy towards the Mayo players; all these negative questions just because a man doesn’t jump up and down. Maybe he should do a Jose Mourinho and slide down the touch line on his knees, or run to the hill and kiss the Dublin badge.
I know what they would be writing or giving out about the following week if he pulled a stroke like that.
Maybe it’s the Irish in us that we need to find some sort of fault with those that rise to any sort of height and we feel the urge to pull them down. Getting beyond their station and all that stuff.
Why do we have to know why a manager doesn’t feel the need to be like every other manager before him? So what if he doesn’t want to jump up and down; so what if his press conferences are measured and maybe somewhat boring; he is the manager of a football team, an amateur. He is doing it for the love of his county, the game and the group of players and backroom team that forms the group, that’s it.
Dublin are where they are because of long term planning. The people behind that plan felt Jim Gavin was the man to carry out that plan. It is their plan to make Dublin the Barcelona of Gaelic football. It’s up to every other county to do the same. We can’t attack a manager or a county just because they are good at what they are doing.
Another criticism that was thrown out at the weekend was the way the game finished. There were players wrestling all over the place, one of the Dublin players threw away the Mayo goalkeeper’s kick out tee. Once Dublin went in front after Dean Rock’s free the Dublin players decided to slow the game down; they caused a bit of chaos by breaking up the game. Mayo were restricted in getting forward to get the equaliser. The referee did his best to sort things out but the game tapered out.
The criticism of players doing all sorts of stuff just to see out the game, or slow the game down, is nothing new. Some call it cheating, some call it gamesmanship, others I know would suggest it is experience but to suggest Dublin or any team is above all that stuff is for the birds.
Paul Kimmage, a very well respected journalist, asks the question: “Is winning all that matters?” He was extremely critical of the behaviour; a fair question. However, if you put your whole life on hold, not just for a year or two, to be the best you can be and be part of a county team, you do it for one reason, winning; nothing else; you do whatever it takes, within reason, of course, to get over the line. That’s it.
What Dublin did to get over the line against a better Mayo team on the day was, in my opinion, well within reason. To some who may want to sensationalise what went on, they, too, have a case.
If I see it at an underage game would I agree? Of course not. But playing in an All-Ireland final with one minute to go and you’re a point up. Ask the Mayo lads what they would have done; then make up your mind.