herald

Sunday 13 October 2019

'There's no helicopters, there's no bag of gear, there's no deals for free boots'

Ray Cosgrove is annoyed at the claims that Dublin underage teams have an unfair advantage due to money
Ray Cosgrove is annoyed at the claims that Dublin underage teams have an unfair advantage due to money

Nowhere are the supposed effects of Dublin GAA's reported wealth more robustly disputed than among those involved with the teams said to benefit.

"It really galls me," says Ray Cosgrove.

"I'm involved with the Under-16 development squad and I see the time and effort that's put in at underage level, bringing young guys through."

Asked whether the team he works with enjoys any advantages of finance, welfare or facility over groups from rival counties, Cosgrove is adamant.

"Absolutely nothing," he states.

"Our fellas, they train two nights a week. They're with us one night, they go to the gym a second night.

"We get them for an hour and a half. That's it.

"There's no helicopters. There's no bag of gear. There's no deals for free boots. They get a pair of shorts, a pair of socks and a training top.

"And actually, they got a tracksuit top recently.

"So it's not as if they're at any advantage to any kid from Kerry, Cork, Galway … the time and effort they put in away from our sessions … there's no silver bullet.

"I can tell you for a fact it's nothing to do with money. The lads might get a wrap and a piece of fruit after a match. Nothing more.

"It really gets under our skin."

The natural follow-up question is - where has all this success come from?

Success

If it's not due to factors of financial clout, what then is the genesis of Dublin's recent surge?

"It's got to do with the work and effort and the application," Cosgrove outlines.

"There's only so many hours in a week the guys can train. All the players are in work or college so it's not as though they're full-time professional athletes where they can do any more than any other team.

"It gets under my skin."

Cosgrove goes on: "Success is a big thing.

"When you're successful at underage, that carries through the senior level.

"And when you're winning senior titles, that always helps to keeps fellas coming back for another year."

Cosgrove was on a Dublin senior team he admits "never wanted for anything," yet found that level of comfort never made up for the shortfall in their collective abilities.

"Unfortunately, we weren't good enough," he admits.

"We never wanted for anything. Gym membership, gear - we had everything we wanted. Training camps.

"But it never gave us an unfair advantage. I do not subscribe to that whatsoever."

"The money - I won't say it's a cheap shot - but it's not the reason they're going for five-in-a-row this year.

There are plenty of theories but the precise source of Dublin's success is unlikely to be categorically proven until this side fades and the next group, privy to the same conditions, either continue in the same vein of dominance or fall short of their predecessors' exalted standards.

Harvests

The 'special group of players' argument has been largely disproved by Jim Gavin's renovation of the 2011 team with no discernible drop off in standards.

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that two richly talented batches arrived within close proximity of one another and that subsequent crops will yield more modest harvests.

But it's not hard to see the current team sustaining their levels.

"The one thing is the humility of the group that have been so successful," Cosgrove notes.

"It's testament to Jim and the rest of the management team. But OK, Jim can do so much.

"But it's got to be player-led as well. Jim can do so much to put a slant on it. But they have to take personal ownership if it as well. Because when they're away from the group, they've got to look after themselves as professionally as they can.

"And that's got to do with the mindset and the attitude of the players.

"There's a lot of guys around the country who have All-Ireland medals but wouldn't hold themselves like this group of players. Some of the lads - five, six medals - and you wouldn't know who they were around town.

"They're as humble. They don't look for attention.

"I put that down to their attitude and their hunger for success."