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Leinster GAA Chairman Jim Bolger.

Leinster GAA Chairman Jim Bolger.

Jim Bolger: 'It has worked well'

By Cian O'Connell

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Leinster GAA Chairman Jim Bolger is hopeful Dublin will play another provincial football championship match away from Croke Park again in 2018.

In 2016 Dublin played Laois at Nowlan Park and this summer Jim Gavin's charges defeated Carlow at O'Moore Park.

“We'll look at what the draw is," Bolger stated at the draw for the Top Oil Br Bosco Cup at Croke Park on Tuesday.

"I suppose at this stage, we’d like to and Dublin are keen to get out of Croke Park as well, maybe the first game we’ll look if the draw suits, who the particular county they are drawn against, and other criteria as well.

“It’s not written in stone, but it has worked well the last two years.

“Carlow didn’t have the capacity to hold it in Netwatch Cullen Park so that was Portlaoise, and we had to learn from the initial taking it to Nowlan Park, and test the water and we did that. So, we have learned from that experience."

Bolger believes it is an ideal opportunity to promote Gaelic Games. “We have taken a hit financially, but it’s not all about finances," Bolger admits. "We’d like to do what we think is the right thing for all our patrons. Dublin are keen to come out of Croke Park as well.

“We have a figure now and will be doing our accounts shortly, we’ll take it over the two years. It is a hit in the pocket but it’s not all about that.

“The plus from it is the promotion of the game and to see Dublin, who are obviously top quality, one of the best teams ever that we have seen in football, to do three in a row now, to have the All-Ireland champions down was a massive boost for Carlow as well.

"I think it was 1988 when Carlow last played Dublin in the championship, and they weren’t All-Ireland champions, so it's a great boost, for any county if you can acquit yourself fairly well against them. It’s nice to test the water and see where you are at."

Bolger isn't overly concerned about Dublin's dominance in Leinster highlighting the work being carried out at underage level in the capital.

"I think everything is cyclical and we have an exceptional team in Dublin at the moment and they have added  a lot to it," Bolger comments. "They are getting full value out of it.

"Other counties are looking over their shoulder in relation to Dublin. I was at the under-16 Gerry Reilly tournament and the Dublin backroom team, Jayo (Jason Sherlock) was the manager, David Henry was selector, Paul Griffin a selector and Declan Lally, and two other guys who played senior football up here who weren't inter county.

"If other counties want to match Dublin here’s an example can they grab their recently retired county players and utilise them in that fashion, get them in straight away."

Bolger feels other counties are beginning to make progress. "When you are benchmarking against Dublin you have to bench mark all strands is my belief," Bolger adds.

"They are exceptional at the moment and they are going to be hard stopped again I’d imagine and bringing through some excellent young players as well, seen that through under-21 and minors,

“Con O'Callaghan, some people say where did he come out, if you knew the underage, never mind the ruling side of it, came seamlessly into the team and made a massive impact and they have others like that as well.

“You could say in one way, that’s the nature of it, but they are doing the work underage in squad development. Other countries are catching up. It’s a massive effort it will take, who knows in a couple of years time where it will be,.You take some key players out of the Dublin set up, what impact will that have?

"I suppose the prime example is the goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton, who is exceptional, maybe they will have a replacement, but you don't get guys like that every week of the year.”

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