The False Narrative

We looked across the Atlantic during the Trump era - dismayed at the false narrative and the ease in which truth was distorted. It came much closer to home during the Brexit campaign as similar tactics and untruths brought, and continue to bring, chaos to the UK.

But there has been a huge false narrative here in Ireland over the last number of years too. Not with such serious consequences as the two above – but proof enough that we are not immune to false narratives through denial of facts, untruths and ignorance, wilful or otherwise.

Dublin fans have been blessed to witness some of the best players to ever wear the light blue shirt over the decade from 2011-2020. Eight All Ireland wins, 10 Leinster championships and 5 National League titles. Heady days.

The success brought much deserved acclaim but as in most things Irish, it also brought a huge amount of begrudgery, sheer jealousy and one of the great false narratives …. aided and abetted by blindness to facts and simple ignorance.

We’ll go back about fifteen years when the GAA and Dublin County Board were worried about the health of the organisation in the city and decided to devote specific funding to grow participation rates in Gaelic games. So from 2007, with an ambitious programme and buy-in from the clubs, Dublin County Board set about reaching out to schools and building links with their local clubs. This was very successful and participation rates grew significantly. The games promotion coaches introduced children to the games at a basic level in their schools and pointed them towards the local clubs.

The results were actually staggering with some of these kids winning an All Ireland with the Dubs just four short years later. Ha – not really. Let’s try to stick to facts.

Dublin won a first ever (then) All Ireland u21 title in 2003 and followed with a second in 2010. In 2011 and 2012 a hugely talented group of Dublin minor footballers and hurlers reached four All Ireland finals over the two years. These immensely talented young men enjoyed just a single victory - in the 2012 football final having lost the previous football final by a single point to a late goal. They lost the 2011 hurling final after a replay. A lot of heartache for young men. To be stored.

Fortunately many of them persevered and enjoyed All Ireland u21 success as Dublin added national titles at this level in 2012 and 2014.

With so much underage talent this could only be good for Dublin football. But the talent needed to be nurtured, harnessed and managed properly. Looking back it’s safe to say that that’s exactly what happened.

But the phenomenal success of the senior football team soon led to all sorts of accusations about our old friend the development funding. The awful ‘financial doping’ term was bandied about by some – a dreadful slur on amateur sportspeople. The blue juggernaut was on the road, 10 in a row was on the way and there was a never ending conveyor belt of talent churning out multiple Laochra Gael on a yearly basis.

In a world increasingly dominated by social media this kind of errant nonsense can easily grow legs. When it is perpetuated by established and national media outlets, unchallenged, then the legs can get longer. And when this deflection can distract from the underperformance and shortcomings of much of the opposition then it becomes that beautiful creature – the alt truth. Something to hide behind and deflect, while shouting at the clouds – but never accepting the reality.
But surely this development funding created the monster?

Well aside from the timing being a little off … no – not quite. But let’s discuss …

Did this funding create Alan and Bernard Brogan, James McCarthy, Dean Rock, Jack McCaffrey or Kevin McManamon. In short – no. Most were well through national school even by 2007. These lads were born of Dublin GAA royalty so it’s fair to say that they may have enjoyed excellent domestic coaching from an early age. This has often been pointed out … and largely ignored.

Similarly legends of this era like Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons, Rory O’Carroll, MichaelDara MacAuley, Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn were well out of short pants by the time they pulled on a pair of Dublin shorts. But sure …

The development funding would surely impact at underage level, given that’s where the money is going? Well, no – not when it is aimed at simply growing participation – and not fine tuning an Aryan race of footballers. One minor All Ireland title since 1984 (in 2012) might have afforded those men shouting at the clouds some hard evidence that there actually is no conveyor belt. In particular, critics from Kildare and Meath (All-Ireland minor champions – congratulations) should be aware that their counties enjoy regular success over their Dublin counterparts. Again this was often pointed out. But ignored.

It may actually be that Dublin underage needs more funding and help with structures to compete with their Leinster counterparts who have centres of excellence and such like but that’s for another day.

Why are we talking about footballers all the time – was this funding not for hurlers too? And camógs? Yes …yes it was. The funding was to increase participation in all codes for girls and boys. This discrepancy in the funding debate given that Dublin has not managed to develop the same levels of success in all codes has been repeatedly pointed out but again this has been ignored. It seems that the angry men shouting at the clouds are only interested in the ‘successful funding’.

Dublin County Board and the clubs can be proud of what they achieved with the development funding. And because of matching funding the value of the initial investment was doubled, enabling twice as many coaches to reach out to school kids.

But it’s a real pity that our national broadcaster saw fit to disingenuously portray the issue of development funding just three days after a fantastic Dublin team achieved the previously elusive five in a row. Or that someone like Pat Gilroy was mocked for pointing out the inescapable fact that GAA activity in Dublin is extremely weak in the area between the canals.

There is no denying Dublin’s advantages in terms of population and the fact that our players are almost 100% based in the county for training and playing. Why we have not won the vast (if not all) majority of All Irelands in all codes given that these advantages have been more or less there since 1884 is something the Dublin County Board should look into as a matter of urgency. We might also ask why Cork have not won more football titles or why Antrim have won no Ulster title since 1951.
Or maybe why America don’t get to the World Cup final every four years or why the Chinese cricket team doesn’t excel with their 1.4bn population. Questions for another day.

Dublin will have development funding reduced - which is fine. But let’s be absolutely clear about the effect of this. It will not reduce Dublin’s chances of success … but it absolutely will negatively affect the opportunity for many young school children to get an introduction to our national games.

But the questions for today concern the ridiculously false narrative around the wonderful Dublin football team. The greatest and most successful of all time. Too often objectivity goes missing when the ‘experts’ are discussing this team …. Lost in a ball of smoke, along with the truth.

Why our pundits and journalists persisted with evident untruths, ignored factual evidence and would not countenance the fact that this team contained a number of once-in-a-lifetime players, many with rich All Ireland pedigree.

Why they ignored the fact that the team was originally blessed to have a manager of Pat Gilroy’s ability and then followed by Jim Gavin, the greatest manager our games have ever known.

Why the Dublin underage performances consistently and factually belied the false narrative that Dublin GAA was an out of control juggernaut with a never ending conveyor belt of talent.

So 2022 continues as 2021 ended - with a fact that many Dublin fans have known all along - that Dublin are indeed human. Many legends have retired and have been replaced by fine players – not at the level of their predecessors - at least not yet. Now we have the reality that Dublin can be beaten. That our games are alive again. So be it. It is a good thing. Mind you the funding largely remains.

As do the pundits and to call it as it is, the whingers. Many of them earning good money - licence payers’ money in a lot of cases. None ever called to account for their misrepresentation of facts. For their ignorance – we will assume it was not wilful – their ignoring of the many truths that were pointed out to them during their disingenuous and false appraisal of the greatest Gaelic football team of all time. The six in a row Dubs.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Thank you for a glorious decade, a life-time of memories – the magnificent Boys in Blue.




it was a hell of a decade. loved it. Nothing lasts for ever. i’ll still love the dubs no matter what.


I remember the hidings. That puts all the winnings in perspective.


A wonderful word smith that captures it brilliantly.

Like lots of other Ressers have been through the lean years before witnessing the greatest team of all time was extremely sweet, can easily accept a return to the pack but don’t feel we are finished yet.


Great post. To me, this is the saddest part of it all in terms of the GAA as an organisation.

The was 3 ways that this Dublin team would eventually be beaten:
1 - The pack kept up with us (didn’t happen)
2 - The pack caught up with us (Mayo nearly on a couple of occasions)
3 - Dublin came back to the pack

Unfortunately for the GAA we have come back to the pack. We are no longer a benchmark of the level of skill, strength, intensity and tactical acumen that can be achieved in the great sport of Gaelic Football.

What we are left with is entertaining, a pack of 4 or maybe 5 teams that on their day could beat anyone and win an All Ireland. Lost in this entertainment (not lost to everyone, puke football is widely commented on around here) will be the fact that overall, the standard of our games will have dropped


Outstanding article Dub.
Deserves to be published :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

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Dub09, that is a fantastically well written piece. Balanced and informative, if only those beyond the Pale could understand the sense written above. While today’s relegation may prove to be an eye opener to some, no doubt, there are others, lyijng in the long grass, waiting to say it was but a blip on the Blue Juggernaut, funded by Croke Park. We will continue to give our time and passion to Dublin GAA, expenses free, in the hope that we may once again reach the Nirvana of an All Ireland win. Maith an fear agus Átha Cliath abú.


Soo-poirb ! :clap:

The only silver lining to today & our apparent demise, is that the 6 in a row team may final get the credit they deserve in some quarters.

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Maith thú a Chara píosa galánta.

We’ve been blessed with a super bunch of players, who’ve had great Managers in Gilroy & Gavin. Unfortunately both our Hurlers & Camógs haven’t had the same level of Management, yet.

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Even at this remove, it’s obvious we were fortunate to witness a dizzying decade in which our Boys In Blue not only raised the bar but kept it there, out of the reach of everyone. The legend of them and their achievements will only grow with the passing of time - and rightly so.

We knew it wouldn’t last forever despite the skrieking from the various quarters who, heaven forbid, thought they knew better. “The end is not only nigh, it’s here in the shape of this merciless blue machine, that endless conveyor belt. Something must be done! Something HAS to be done!”
And now they and their false narrative has skulked away off down the drains. Funny, that.

Cracking write-up, Dub. While nationally these facts will be ignored for the most part as we’ve relinquished our grasp and our rivals can breathe again, it feels appropriate that you should broach the topic on this of all evenings.

History was made, 6 All-Irelands in a row.

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Welcome back horse.

JohnC!! He s here every day .

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Great Post @DUB09 and one I 100% agree with.

All teams who dominate do so in cycles. A few years ago you had ourselves, new England in NFL, Mercedes in f1, celtic in Scottish soccer never ending winning. Now all have either lost their crowns or are losing them.

Even as the 6 in a row was happening we knew it was a once off, and that it will never happen again probably in our lifetimes. What will also happen is that the bitter anti dubs of old on the tv and media will eventually shuffle off the stage like the headmaster on rte but the legend of this past decade will live on and on.

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some things we’ll never see again.

  1. bitter just asking questions
  2. another six in a row
  3. Duirmuid Connolly (the complete player)
  4. colm o’rourke not having the opportunity to reference sisyphus
  5. a bitch fest on sunday game after the dubs win an AI (maybe)

O Rourke loves Sisyphus. And lucky generals and the Roman Empire being at most vulnerable when it was at it peak .

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My young lads headmaster… its mentioned a few times in the school… though his weekly address through the app is very entertaining… he is good crack with the lads in the school… Colm ‘Sisyphus’ O’Rourke the lucky general.

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that will 100% happen if and when we win again.

Surely Colm Syphilis O’Rourke would be more appropriate.