The Dublin Strategic Plan was launched recently amid much fanfare and ontheroad contrasts this development with the fate that befell the Mayo GAA Draft Strategic Action Plan that was produced earlier this year.
Resting on my table waiting to be read and devoured is James Laffey’s excellent book “The Road to 51”. Beside it sits a pamphlet called Unleashing the “Blue Wave”: A Strategy for Dublin GAA 2011–2017. The latter made familiar reading, almost a sense of déjà-vu or Groundhog Day. Going over to my modest bookcase, I fetched out a similar looking pamphlet entitled “Mayo GAA-Draft Strategic Action Plan 2011-2016”.
Reading through the Dublin plan which was enthusiastically supported by the county chairman, I came across familiar themes. The first thing of note that surfaced was the relationship with the Dublin colours and jersey. The report went “The blue jersey is a unique inclusive brand”.
The report continued with an unabashed view as to how Dublin saw themselves. “Whilst Blue must become the colour of success, this is no cheap marketing gimmick. Blue is the colour of our Dublin heritage”, mighty words that resonate amongst the followers, a recognition of what binds a people. When were you as a Mayo follower similarly roused?
The Blue Wave continues and like its ill-fated Mayo counterpart, it left no stone unturned. Volunteers are seen thus. “The challenge facing the GAA and Dublin GAA is to open the door to all potential volunteers and keep the door open”. Read that line again…carefully. Last year a question was asked about those who gave their time to put the failed Mayo Strategic plan together, the question posed was this: “Who are those people anyway?” Volunteers I might suggest but plainly not welcome.
The heading titled “Financial Pressure and Constraints” spoke for itself. It left all followers with a clear picture of where Dublin stands at present and what it needs to do for the future. To aid the drive forward the following was suggested:
- To develop the Dublin GAA brand as the leading sports brand in Ireland.
- To link with the ladies to achieve the above.
- Dublin County Board to appoint a professional brand and commercial team of up to four professional executives, comprising of a Brand and Commercial Director, Brand development manager, sponsorship and relationship manager and club commercial manager.
The above aims were encapsulated into the following aspiration: “To professionalise Dublin’s brand and commercial development focus to ensure that the revenue potential of Irelands leading sports brand is optimised”.
Note that they didn’t say the Irish soccer or rugby teams were the leading brands. Neither was Kerry or Tyrone either. The aim is for Dublin to rule the waves.
Towards the end they put down key performance targets. They are as follows.
- Win a Senior All-Ireland every three years.
- Win a Minor All-Ireland every three years.
- Win an Under 21 All-Ireland every five years.
I could go on but there would be no point. Looking at the above, it’s a target that with a bit of luck and mental strength Mayo could have achieved between 1996-1999 and 2004-2007, in addition to adding in a National league and a club title for good measure but alas…
The Blue Wave document finishes with this quote: “What gets measured gets done”. They have their aptly-named blueprint and will drive forward. I am not exactly sure what we have. I live a long way from my river so I depend on the Western People and the web. Seemingly the liaison officer for the team reports to the county board and chairman. The liaison officer being the chairman…not the most streamlined system is it?
Looking through the deflated and forlorn Mayo Strategic Review that hit the rocks, I am amazed at the similar sentiments it expressed when compared to the Dublin one. I was heartened by the way Croke Park lent its muscle and support to the Blue Wave with introductions from all the top men in Croker prefacing the document. Alas the Mayo effort from the review committee was made to feel as welcome as a penguin in the desert.
To refresh the reader here are a few of the recommendations put forward in the ill-fated Mayo Review. Huge emphasis was made of our jersey, its iconic status and its ability to unite Mayo people everywhere across the globe. A commercial director was mooted. Take note – just one. Dublin feel the need for four. The Mayo GAA brand was to be treated in the same format as Dublin now intend to.
There was to be a Non-executive Advisory Group to be implemented. That might have aided communications instead of producing the debacle regarding the liaison officer. Finally, and this is where the gold lies, a world wide Mayo supporters’ club was mooted. This would have been inclusive, wide ranging and lucrative for the county and its teams.
Sometimes I despair for our county. James Laffey has written a wonderful book but it’s about a team who reached for the stars sixty years ago. Dublin wish to win Sam every three years and we wait for sixty long years and seem to have no coherent plan or ambition to match them. The annoying bit is that we give glimpses of how we might do if the shackles that hold us back were removed. Who holds those chains reader is up to you to decide upon. So whilst Dublin surf the Blue Wave I wonder on what road we now travel upon.