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6 February 1997 Edition

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Dublin Blues

By Sean O'Donaile

In the Spring of 1974, Dublin GAA was deemed to be in crisis. There hadn't been a Leinster hurling title won since 1961, Sam Maguire hadn't visited in eleven years, and Dublin's youth seemed more interested in wearing flares and following Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Enter Heffo's Army, the first team in GAA history that didn't wear their togs up to their chest, and three All-Irelands and a plethora of championship epics later, Dublin football was saved. Heffo's Army brought glamour to Croke Park with their fancy gear and good looks, none more so than Kevin Moran.

On reflection this era may appear more like a blip in the steady decline of the GAA in the city. Hurling struggles for survival and the County Chairperson said recently that one was ``more likely to find a syringe than a sliothar on the fields of Dublin''. There has been tremendous progress on the part of some clubs but a pessimist might argue that the vast estates that cover the city are home to Cantona and Collymore.

The pessimists had a good day out last Sunday in Parnell Park when Dublin allowed a five point second half lead to turn into a defeat against a Louth side who were heavily reliant on Colin Kelly - he kicked all but one of their white flags.

The Dublin manager Mickey Whelan is now about as popular as the Tories as his side have won only one competitive match since their narrow victory against Louth last June. Louth considered last summer's loss an injustice and were keen to redress affairs although it looked unlikely after they missed an open goal 30 seconds into the second period. This was immediately followed by the best score of the game by Charlie Redmond, who pointed from 45 metres out. Dublin led by five points until a 44th minute penalty was converted by Kelly and after that Louth turned the screw on the Metros, who continue to rely on the old warhorses.

A glaring problem for the Dubs, with a pick of over one million, seems to be the lack of talent to fill very obvious vacancies on the team. Allied with the gloom surrounding Mickey Whelan's reign, the prospects of toppling the country's most unglamorous side, Meath, look dim. Dublin is the team that everyone loves to hate, but with such a high percentage of the country's population, their success is vital to the success of the games nationally. Let's hope the Blues go away.

Tyrone seem to be another side in decline, or hungover, after a nine point beating from Kerry who are keen to prove that last August's performance against Mayo was only a minor aberration in their road back to former glory. Mayo seemed also to have their minds elsewhere when going under to Clare, failing to register a single score in the first half. Cork look likely to be in the shake-up for league honours as do Kildare, Kerry, Meath and possibly Louth. Cavan, Tyrone and Monaghan meanwhile look to be Manchester City bound.

Speaking of which, City fans must surely be celebrating after their glamorous enemies fell foul to Vinny and his Crazy Gang on Tuesday night. A lifelong United fan has informed me that their season will now fall apart. There's loyalty for you!

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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