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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019
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Former Dublin star insists majority of the side's backroom team are unpaid volunteers

Coach Jason Sherlock addressed the issue that has caused discussion over the past few weeks.

Sherlock was part of Jim Gavin's backroom team this year.
Sherlock was part of Jim Gavin's backroom team this year.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ALL-IRELAND WINNING DUBLIN football coach Jason Sherlock has downplayed the issue of Dublin’s enormous backroom team and highlighted the role that volunteers have played in their incredible run of success.

Sherlock, a former Dublin star forward, was among a 23-strong group of backroom team members photographed on the Croke Park pitch after their All-Ireland final replay win over Mayo.

A number of others, such as high performance manager Bryan Cullen, weren’t included so Jim Gavin’s entire Dublin management team could stretch to beyond 25 people.

It’s drawn inevitable commentary that Dublin enjoy an unfair advantage as the cash rich capital county with access to financial resources that their rivals can only dream of.

But Sherlock insisted that the majority of their backroom team are unpaid volunteers and noted generally the impact that ex-players have had on bringing through vital rookie talent from development squads.

“In relation to that picture, I think Jim’s father was in it and maybe two or three members of the county board but anyone that was in it are volunteers as far as I know, excluding Bryan Cullen,” said Sherlock.

“I don’t know how many volunteers are with other counties. All I know is that I was asked by Jim to see if I could assist and I’m happy to do it. I don’t know what’s going on elsewhere.

“I understand there is always going to be that debate about Dublin (and their finances) and all that but as far as I’m concerned it was the same situation when I played. We had the biggest population, the biggest resources but we didn’t have success.”

Sherlock reckons that Dublin are simply more organised these days, something that can be done without major financial investment.

“You’d have to look at that as a contributory factor,” continued the 1995 All-Ireland medallist. “From my point of view, I was asked to get involved in the Dublin development squads three years ago and it was a privilege to be asked and something I was delighted to do.

“I asked others that I would have played with to get involved and probably to a man they all agreed and were willing to give their time. It was great to see that they were willing to do that.

Paddy Andrews celebrates with Jason Sherlock Sherlock celebrates with Paddy Andrews after the All-Ireland final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We’re in grounds at the weekends with U-14s and U-15s, as volunteers. We have Davy Henry, Paul Griffin, Paul Casey, Declan Lally, Brendan O’Brien and then we’ve a few other guys as well.”

Dublin’s sponsorship deal with global insurance giants AIG is worth a reported EUR800,000 per annum while their list of ‘official partners’ runs into double figures.

But Sherlock insisted all of those ex-players are simply in it to give something back to the county and he said they’ve played an important role in the overall success.

“When I picked up the phone they were all happy to play their part and to contribute,” he said. “That’s got nothing to do with resources, they are people who are proud to have played with Dublin and want to give something back.”

Sherlock was recognised as one of the most creative and exciting forwards of his generation and is responsible for mentoring the current Dublin forwards.

Those forwards’ challenge has been more difficult in recent seasons as a result of consistently coming up against packed out defences. Former Dublin defender Ger Brennan claimed after the drawn All-Ireland final with Mayo that Dublin’s attacking edge has been blunted by being continuously forced to recycle and retain possession.

“We can’t control how a team sets up against us,” said Sherlock. “There’s a big emphasis on the defensive side of the game at the moment and that’s a challenge Dublin have had over the last number of years so there’s no point in doing something a certain way if you don’t think it’s going to have benefits.

“The stage where the players are at is that they have to decide themselves on the pitch what is the best way of reacting to something.

“As a coach, that’s all you can do, empower your players to deal with situations and full credit to the lads, they’ve been able to deal with what’s in front of them.”

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Paul Keane

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