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Wed 21-Jan-2009 16:52
More from this writer..
GAA season starting to simmer
Emmet Moloney writes for the 'Farmers Journal' and is a former sports columnist with 'The Kerryman'.
It’s only the middle of January and the GAA world is a hive of activity. Emmet Moloney makes some early season observations...
1. The new rules won’t last. Already the managers’ 'union' is lining up to scupper the yellow-card experiment. Losing players as soon as they receive the yellow is a noble effort to curb blatant and cynical fouling but, let’s be honest here, the sin-bin is the obvious solution. And by the way, there is very little wrong with the game of hurling so leave that alone. Football is the code that needs help. Like most important rule changes that the GAA enforce, the sin-bin will come in ... eventually. But not before soul searching and a number of failed experiments. This is how we do things.
2 – The Late Late Show was a disaster. But it was The Late Late’s disaster. People should calm down. It’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last thing that RTÉ butcher. By the year’s end we will have had plenty of 125-year celebrations. Look on the bright side – it can only get better!
3 – This is going to be a tough year. Colm O’Rourke suggested that the recession will take the heat out of the extraordinary money that has been sloshing around Gaelic Games over the past few years and he’s right. It’s a hard pill to swallow, this current financial meltdown, and it is little consolation to hear that managers and their entourages won’t be getting top dollar anymore, but thank God. Things have been getting out of hand. For all the talk about players getting a small few pound, the real money was with the managers. We all know that. Maybe now the local club man who has deserved his chance and will do it for nothing might get the call before the flashy outsider is summoned and all the local club lotto funds with him.
4 – Who cares if the GAA wants to spend €500,000 on a fireworks display! That is the word on the street. At their official launch of the 125-year celebrations, a spectacular fireworks display is being planned and it is allegedly going to cost half a million. So what! It’s their own money and it’s because we’re worth it. We could all do with a party anyway and this is an anniversary that should be thoroughly celebrated and enjoyed. The GAA is easily the most successful community-based, sports-driven organisation in the world. No other unit has ever given so much to a country. Spend another half million on drink as well, says I. If we’re all heading for the poor house, let’s do it in style. (Invitations can reach me care of The Farmers Journal.)
5 – Cork needs to be sorted. Pronto. Step down, Gerald. Step down, Donal Óg. Announce you are stepping down at some stage, Frank. Let everyone give up something and then get on with it. I have a bet on Cork to win the hurling and I want value for my money.
6 – Stop talking Kilkenny up, they’re getting fed up with it themselves! Look, it isn’t going to work. They will not be lulled into a false sense of security so we might as well stop. No team is unbeatable and on their day teams like Tipperary, Galway, Cork, Clare, Waterford and maybe even a fired-up Wexford could take them. Has history taught us nothing? Seamus Darby, anyone? As recently as 2005, Galway slapped 5-18 past them. While it might be unlikely, it’s not impossible.
7 – Darragh Ó Sé will be fired up this year! (We couldn’t let it go without exploring the humour in this.) Who knows, maybe Darragh was planning to put his feet up and look at his All-Ireland medals on the mantelpiece? And then Pat Kenny decided that the Kingdom were a little short of motivation for 2009 and he delivers. Can you imagine the training sessions now? That picture of Brian Dooher would be hung on the wall of the dressing room if I was Jack O’Connor. Sure you couldn’t buy that moment. And then when Sam is duly collected in September, Pat Kenny is surely due a mention in the speech! Remember Brian Corcoran’s description of Waterford? This puts that in the ha’penny place. They are uber-proud people in Kerry. Thanks Pat, it’s not as if they haven’t won enough already.
8 – Publicly identifying a Dublin footballer who was “sent home early” from a training camp in Spain a week or two ago is most worrying. That young man is now going to have to deal with the tag of being “troublesome” for the rest of his career. I’m not a full-time Dublin football basher, but that incident does not augur well for their chances in 2009. Management failed that young man. That would not inspire any confidence to get it right on the field if they can get it so wrong off the field. The only message it sent was that our camp is not a tight unit. It should have been handled internally and quietly. No-one should have been sent home.
9 – Who needs the weather! Watching Tyrone and Monaghan on TG4 on Sunday was a revelation. Such a high-scoring encounter in difficult conditions. It just shows you that when the stakes aren’t that high, Gaelic football is most pleasing on the eye. I wonder did the yellow-card rule allow for the free-flowing football?
10 – Clare are on the rise. This one is close to my heart. Mike McNamara, Clare’s manager, described his current Clare hurling squad as the healthiest he has seen in 20 years of involvement. According to Mike, he now has two players battling for every position. As a devout Clare follower I am both gladdened and dismayed to hear this. Happy that we now have the best team of the last 20 years (although the ’95-’98 bunch weren’t that bad!), but unhappy that we’re hearing this in January. Out loud! It’s a bit early for talk like that, Mike. Maybe you are working on their confidence or some other logical reason and Jaysus I hope it’s true, but let’s keep it to ourselves.
To catch Emmet's latest column, get 'The Farmers' Journal' every Thursday...
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