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‘It’s something that we deeply regret’ – Rock apologises for Dublin’s training breach
‘It’s something that we deeply regret’ – Rock apologises for Dublin’s training breach

‘It’s something that we deeply regret’ – Rock apologises for Dublin’s training breach

Updated May 13th 2021, 10:38 AM

DEAN ROCK HAS apologised on behalf of the Dublin squad for a breach of Covid-19 restrictions that saw a group of players attend an illegal training session in March.

The Ballymun Kickhams forward was not among the eight players photographed in attendance at Innisfails GAA Club while the country was still in Level 5 restrictions.

It emerged yesterday that the individuals present will not face any fines or sanctions following a Garda investigation where they spoke to several senior panellists to establish how the session came about.

“It was certainly a regrettable incident, and something that we deeply regret,” said Rock. “We are obviously very apologetic about it. Look, we learned a lot of lessons from it.

“That’s the thing, it was a mistake that we have acknowledged and accepted, taken our lessons from it, learned from it and moved on, and look forward to the season ahead. That’s pretty much where we’re at with it at the moment.

The three-time All-Star continued, “With hindsight, it never would have happened. I know an apology was issued at the time, and I’d like to follow up on that with another apology really, just to apologise for what we did.

“We take the lessons from it and we move on. And sometimes you kind of, as an inter-county footballer you think playing inter-county football is the be-all and end-all.

“But I think a big lesson for us is there are far more important things in life than sport and Gaelic football. That’s something that me personally, I’ve taken from the whole debacle. Just move on and hopefully look forward to a good summer of football.”

Asked if other collective training sessions took place with different players prior to 31 March, Rock responded: “The investigation was made by the GAA and the relevant authorities. They were happy with the investigation.

“There’s no point in me going into it now. But they have their report and the investigation done. So that’s not for me to comment on.”

Rock palms a goal into the net 13 seconds into the 2020 All-Ireland final.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Jonny Cooper, Brian Fenton, Brian Howard and Cormac Costello were among the well-known players to attend the session, along with a coach.

“Like all the success we’ve had, it’s always been down to the group. It wasn’t just on the individuals on hand, it was the whole collective.

“It was a regrettable decision. We were all disappointed it happened. As I said, the lads who were there and the whole squad took huge lessons from it. And that’s it. We’re just trying to use the lessons in a positive way, learn from it and move on. 

“It was just one of those things that never should have happened from a training perspective. We’re just thankful that we’re back training as a group together. I’m looking out on Parnell Park now at the minute, the pitch looks great.

“The sun is shining. So that’s the big focus for us now. Get back onto the pitch, train together as a group, which has been brilliant over the last couple of weeks, and look forward to a National League game this weekend.”

It’s understood the GAA’s management committee imposed a 12-week suspension on manager Dessie Farrell, which precludes him from having any involvement with the team for their entire league campaign.

Until Farrell’s ban is up on 1 July, Mick Galvin will take charge of the team.

“Of course, it’s strange not having Dessie there because he’s obviously a big personality and a great person to have around the group,” said Rock.

“Mick Galvin will obviously be there now and take charge of the team for the National League and foreseeable future. He’s ably assisted by Darren Daly, Brian O’Regan and Shane O’Hanlon.

Mick Galvin will take charge of Dublin in Dessie Farrell’s absence.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The players as well take a huge amount of ownership and responsibility on how the team trains and performs,” the 31-year-old added.

“Look, it’s obviously disappointing not to have Dessie there, but Mick and the lads and the players themselves will take huge ownership and responsibility and drive the thing on over the next couple of weeks.”

Dublin begin their Division 1 South campaign with a trip to Roscommon on Sunday.

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Rock, who got his first taste of the Sky Blues senior panel as a 19-year-old in 2009, says he sees no reason why he can’t follow in the footsteps of the likes of Bernard Brogan and play well into his mid-30s.

“It’s all about just discipline around your habits and your lifestyle. You can see it in all different sports around the world, there’s loads of examples of people that can do it. It’s just trying to juggle everything from a work perspective.

“Obviously we’re amateur athletes so it’s trying to combine the work element. Then it comes down to a bit of luck if you’re fortunate enough with injuries which thankfully I have been over the last number of years.

“So hopefully that continues, you look after yourself and who knows? You just take one year at a time and see how it goes. That certainly would be my objective, to play for as long as I possibly can. Physically I feel really good so let’s see where that goes.”

Off the pitch, a recent change of job saw Rock move into the financial industry after a number of years with Stewarts Care. His new role sees him link up once again with retired Dublin forward Paddy Andrews.

“You get to a certain stager of your career where you have to look to the future. I had incredible years in Stewarts Care, working with people with intellectual disabilities. It was a massive part of my life and something I took valuable life lessons from which I carry forward in my day-to-day life now.

“I have moved into a new role. Paddy Andrews is now my boss in the Dublin office of Metis Ireland. I’m juggling exams at the moment, with coming back to play football. I’m doing my QFAs at the moment. Have four down, with two to go. I’m trying to get them all done in six months. It may be slightly ambitious but it’s the competitive nature in me.

“It has been a nice news start to a new role and I’m looking forward to it immensely”

– Originally published 06.01.

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