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How Stateside trip emphasises the appeal of Brand Dublin

By Declan Bogue

For some, the sight of numerous Dublin players - male and female - with their All-Ireland Cups in Fenway Park, Boston for the Super 11's hurling exhibition was the last straw.

It was felt that a large number of these men could have been in Australia instead, representing Ireland in the International Rules defeat.

Indeed, the absence of any Dubs has led to a general assumption that the very future of the International Rules is threatened. Because, as director-general Paraic Duffy once put it in an annual report about the appeal of representative games: "…in any case, given the number of elite players who had already indicated their non-availability, the signs for a renewal of public interest were not good."

Only this wasn't a line about the International Rules of course, but about the Interprovincial Series, which they appear to have successfully driven a few stakes through the heart of with the withdrawal of Connacht.

Closer examination of the Dubs pictured in the bijou heart of Massachusetts shows that none of them were available for a tour of duty down under.

Michael Darragh Macauley, while freed up from club action, is currently struggling with a serious knee injury.

Paul Flynn has Gilmore's Groin and it's a matter of patching him up match-to-match. Cormac Costello wouldn't have been reasonably considered for the hybrid sport and Diarmuid Connolly had heavy commitments to his club St Vincent's up until recently.

Still, there was something really striking about the picture that made the viewer think in terms of 'Brand Dublin.' Perhaps it's an even-more attractive brand than 'Brand Ireland' in any case.

If that is so, then you can't blame the men and women with beaming smiles in Boston. The GAA have funded a competitive and highly-skilled Dublin operation and, through the excellence of county board CEO John Costello and some sharp recruiting, Ireland's capital city has made the most of the opportunities afforded to it.

There are parallels here with the main story on this page. The ball is in Antrim's court now.

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