Say goodbye to Salthill or scatter with the wind

Podge Collins didn’t take too kindly to our claim last week that the modern sliotar is too light. 

The Clare star wrote: “The people who are commenting, I’d love to see them come out onto the field and hit the ball to see how they get on. 

"Honestly, I would, because there’s not a lot of players that can do it to that level, with accuracy. The ball is the way it is and the game is going pretty well at the moment. 

"Last year’s Championship was good, and I think they’ve very little to be giving out about.”

Collins, to be fair, stressed he wasn’t one of the best ball strikers so he has vested interests in retaining the ball that is being played. 

But at least there was some support out there for our stance.

“Born beside the ‘Athletics Ground’, I have been going to hurling matches since the age of three,” Fr Edmund Hogan emailed. 

I am now 75. In recent years I have been unhappy about the ability to score points from virtually any place outside the D.

"For me so much skill has been lost mainly by the underweight sliotar. I thought I was on my own in my criticism.”

In Salthill on Sunday, the small-rimmed, light ball was a factor in Galway and Wexford serving up a dreadful shooting display. 

Despite an enthralling finish, their combined wide count of 30 fell just two short of their aggregate points total.

Neither team should be so bad again this summer but the licence to shoot provided by the sliotar meant they were going to do so on sight, especially when they were backed by the bellowing wind into the City terrace.

Those elements have cursed far too many games in Pearse Stadium, making them the proverbial game of two halves. 

The idiosyncratic argument made by some of the locals that each team has to contend with the almost customary gale falls down when so often sides can’t compete on an even keel in a given half.

A wind is something you can’t legislate for except in Salthill. It dominates, dictates, frustrates. And it certainly doesn’t discriminate. 

Galway may know it better than most but the familiarity has done them no favours — last year’s Division 1B promotion clash with Limerick being a case in point.

The venue’s location on the far side of Ireland’s version of spaghetti junction that is Galway city is another cause for annoyance.

After grave examples of mismanagement were revealed last year, Galway GAA is hardly flush with cash as it is in recovery mode. 

The Mountain South episode will have put them off considering any capital ventures for some time and it’s not as if Croke Park, who love urban GAA stadiums, would support a move away from Pearse Stadium unless there is a better alternative.

And yet the land sale would prove to be quite attractive, allowing them to purchase an entirely more appropriate green field site for a stadium east of the city and within easier access of the ring road.

The opportunity for some sports ecumenicism and teaming up with Connacht Rugby seems to have passed now that the province last year announced major plans to redevelop the Sportsgrounds at a cost of €30 million.

However, rumours that the GAA would be keen on establishing Connacht’s chief provincial venue in the Galway city area haven’t gone away. 

That is contingent on the construction of the €600m outer ring road, passed by Government last October, and would be based close to Terryland.

Pearse Stadium might then be given a respectful but ever so timely burial.

It was revealed last week that Facebook are removing millions of dubious accounts every day but they have yet to remove the parody tribute “The Pearse Stadium Wind”.

Hosting genuine Championship fare there is for the birds — if they can withstand the gale.

History repeats itself for Offaly

And so for the second time in 12 months, Offaly chairman Tommy Byrne hopes the county’s management committee’s lack of accountability can be papered over with a new appointment.

There should be blushes but there are none with Kevin Martin ruthlessly shown the door, as Stephen Wallace was in 2018.

But by doing so, the board themselves have once more failed to address the issues which have sent Offaly into a downward spiral.

But if Joachim Kelly follows the example of Paul Rouse by staging a recovery, then another crisis will be averted — until the next one arrives, which you imagine will be as soon as those valiant stalwarts Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin retire.

“Survival in the Joe McDonagh Cup competition in 2019 is essential for the long-term development of hurling in the county,” was the telling line in their statement last week. 

Interpreting that, short-term thinking is all that counts for a county that has put far too much interest in building blocks than players.

Wallace may have upset people in and out of the county but Martin’s commitment to Offaly is unquestionable. 

In filling in for him, Kelly surely believes he is answering his county’s call as are his selectors. 

But do they get even the slightest hint that they are patsies in a bigger game?

As Rouse replaced Wallace, as Kelly replaces Martin, history repeats itself for a county that at this stage must surely be sick of being terminally let down by those supposed to be leading them.

Mayo and Super 8 fate entwined?

Just over 14,000 people took in Saturday’s Leinster quarter-final double-header in Portlaoise.

That it involved Dublin said all there needed to be said about the competition — it is failing, if not failed.

More Dubs will attend the semi-final on Sunday week and should Meath also make the final then there will be some curiosity around the decider but most of the All-Ireland champions’ following are picking the battles further down the line.

After Saturday, Mayo’s hopes of making the Super 8 have again been cast into doubt and with that possibly the experimental Championship structure itself.

Why do we say that? Well, GAA president John Horan and director general Tom Ryan were upfront in acknowledging the absence of Mayo from the quarter-final round-robin phase in its inaugural year had a detrimental impact on gate receipts.

Last year was the first time in nine seasons that the combined attendances for the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals (two games) didn’t break 130,000 - it fell considerably short at 104,262 - and Mayo had reached the last-four in all but two of those nine seasons.

Were they to be marked absent again (and the GAA to feel it where it hurts the most) then the Super 8 could be in peril.

The Dublin following may be the cash cow but their ascending levels of expectation are beginning to hit the coffers. 

And the yearning of Mayo, proven to be such a lucrative business too, is again in jeopardy.

Mike Quirke's Football Podcast: Do Mayo trust youth? More Conor Coxes. Two-tier effects. Cork's plan

More on this topic

Laois end Kildare reign in U20 Football Championship

John Horan’s two-tier proposals have room to improve

Cluxton’s No.1 contenders for his successor as kickout king

Dublin’s cosiness to HQ gives ammunition to detractors

More in this Section

Laois end Kildare reign in U20 Football Championship

U19 manager Tom Mohan bids to make most of Ireland options

Mullen endures European Games frustration

Luca Connell: ‘Robbie Keane asked us to strike the bar from 30 yards...I did it first time’

More by this author

Dublin’s cosiness to HQ gives ammunition to detractors

Clare’s white line fever hits hard

Hurling not yet ready to tackle cynicism scourge

Munster SHC remains the bee’s knees


Lifestyle

Hozier adds more believers to his church after Cork gig

Simply off the wall: Your go-to guide to shelving

Peter Dowdall shares his top 4 flower picks to add a splash of summer colour to your garden

Ask a counsellor: ‘Why does my husband hate that our daughter’s dating a man going through divorce?’

More From The Irish Examiner