Dublin: The Chaos Years

RTÉ Guide - - Books -

by Neil Cot­ter (Penguin Ire­land) Reviewer: Donal O’Donoghue “Tommy was a pe­cu­liar beast” How do you write about the Dublin se­nior foot­ball team, the great­est Gaelic foot­ball side of the mod­ern era and ar­guably, the Great­est of All Time as they hunt down an un­prece­dented five-in-a-row in 2019? With the play­ers locked down tighter than a drum by their man­age­ment, Neil Cot­ter (with his de­but book) has come up with the sim­ple but some­what in­ge­nious idea of chron­i­cling how Dublin’s se­nior foot­ballers got to Mount Olym­pus. So he charts the bar­ren years, talk­ing with for­mer play­ers and man­age­ment who seem happy to spill their guts and put the boot into for­mer col­leagues.

We have Keith Barr ver­sus man­ager Tommy Carr (the bad blood is still there), the ma­chine that was Vin­nie Mur­phy and the evo­lu­tion of cur­rent boss Jim Gavin, an All Ire­land win­ner in 1995 who doesn’t es­cape un­scathed from these pages. With its col­lo­quial sub-ti­tle (‘How the Dubs Made a Mess of Things for So Long – and How they Turned it Around’) this book strives to make sense of it all and it fea­tures a colour­ful cast, among them the for­mer Taoiseach and long-term Dubs fan, Ber­tie Ah­ern. What makes this a book for a read­er­ship beyond the Pale is that it’s not just for those look­ing to see what not to do, but also for the or­di­nary sports fan cu­ri­ous about what hap­pens in sweaty dress­ing-rooms or off the ball or be­hind closed board­room doors. Still pas­sion­ate af­ter all these years, Keith Barr slams his fist on the ta­ble as he re­calls how Kil­dare beat Dublin in a re­play in the 1998 cham­pi­onship, Carr still has night­mares about the Mau­rice Fitzger­ald free kick that dumped them out of the 2001 All Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal and the fi­nal words go to Ea­monn Heery, who played for a decade with Dublin but missed out on the Celtic cross in 1995. “Barrsy al­ways said to me, ‘Heery, we won f*uck-all, but we had great craic.”

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