Kings of the weekend – Galway and the holy grail of ‘consistency’
Henry Shefflin dug deep into the recesses of his mind and summoned up the most damning comment he could think of to describe the listless air that hung over the Galway-Dublin match, writes By Conor Neville.
“It was like a football match out there,” he told Michael Lyster.
Hurling men on barstools all around the country blanched and announced that Henry had gone too far. We can surely expect the Dublin county board to request an apology in due course.
One by-product of Cork’s win over Tipp last week was that Galway – without an All-Ireland senior hurling title since 1988 – were immediately installed as narrow favourites to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup, news to send shivers of trepidation down Galway spines.
As ever when Galway play, the pre-and post-match coverage of the game was saturated in the use of the ‘I’ word.
The Galway hurling drinking game – empty your glass every time you hear the word ‘inconsistency’ – would leave even those with the strongest constitutions well and truly polluted by half-time and incapable of remembering anything of the final 20 minutes.
The occasionally euphemistic ‘inconsistent’ tag has stuck to Galway since the early 1990s, and was still deemed to apply even in the late 90s and late noughties when they flopped in the championship on a fairly consistent basis.
But then what people mean by consistency is that you’re not playing well the whole time.
Well, yesterday, giddier folk were suggesting that Galway had at last hit upon that elusive concept of consistency. While they lacked the almost maniacal vigour of the League final, they made light work of Dublin, the circumstances of the second half allowing them to indulge in some cutesy, flashy passages of hurling (that could be a danger going forward mind, says the growling pessimist in the corner). Joe Canning, in particular, appeared to be trying to add some slides to his youtube highlight reel. They backed up their status as favourites for Liam McCarthy.
Written off completely – Cork football
The unloved sibling of Cork GAA fell still further in the affections of their sporting public this weekend. We might be tempted to declare that a one-point win over Waterford represents ‘rock bottom’, except that announcing rock bottom has been hit is the act of a cockeyed optimist. If there’s one thing that sporting history has taught us it’s that there’s always scope for disimprovement. In a year’s time, they could be losing to Waterford.
Even before this most recent cheek reddening episode, Mr. Cork football himself, Billy Morgan, was introducing his proud countymen to the possibility that they might soon be looking beyond the county borders for an inter-county manager.
An outside manager might be what’s required, he told Colm Parkinson. Cork football needs to have its Jack Charlton/Sven Goran Eriksson moment.
There are scores of unassuming, middling counties out there for whom the concept of an ‘outside manager’ has long since ceased to be a novelty. In Offaly hurling, for instance, the appointment of an inside manager would probably represent a greater novelty at this point.
Cork, though, with its grand reputation and bullish self-image, might find it a bit much to stomach being taught how to play by an outsider.
However, the greatest Cork team of the modern era was far from shy about enlisting outside players in the cause. Why not a manager?
A more collegiate atmosphere on the football panel as Derry’s most famous barrister had to recuse himself. This seems to be a relatively recent policy from RTE Sport. But then your average sports fan believes that pundit bias is a scourge on a par with health service waiting lists, so Ryle and co had to take decisive action, in keeping with the mood of the times.
Not that Brolly is short of platforms on which to get his opinion across. Here he is 20 minutes into the game.
Eejit Maurice Deegan destroying any slim chance of a game with a succession of very soft frees— Joe Brolly (@JoeBrolly1993) May 28, 2017
In his absence, Spillane and O’Rourke, who first teamed up back in the 90s, went big on the inter-club spite in Derry. The word is that the club scene is so vibrant and so poisonous that the county jersey holds no interest.
“Derry is a county in crisis,” announced O’Rourke, implying that a George Mitchell figure will need to be drafted in as a selector for 2018.
After another Dublin wide in the first half:
Darragh Maloney: We’ve seen that strategy countless times…”
Brendan Cummins: I think it’s called lack of strategy Darragh”
The late Graham Taylor once described the England manager’s position as “the impossible job”, which obviously sounds appallingly melodramatic to anyone who has watched a man in the act of trying to referee a Gaelic football match.
Maurice Deegan, who was accused in many quarters of ruining last year’s All-Ireland final replay, was accused yesterday of ruining the Derry-Tyrone game.
I would humbly suggest that Maurice does not deserve sole credit for ruining the Derry-Tyrone game, if indeed he deserves any credit at all.
There are many others who made sterling contributions in the cause of ruining that game and those contributions deserve to be recognised.
Maurice seemed to wind up the home team and their supporters in taking a penal view of their robust tackling style.
At least Deegan can rest assured that he didn’t annoy the Derry supporters as much as Barry Kelly riled Dublin.
Cork v Waterford a cliff-hanger, Tyrone v Derry a non-event. The (Gaelic football) world's gone mad.— Frank McNally (@FrankmcnallyIT) May 28, 2017
One of Waterfords starting forwards missed a league game to play darts. Cork obviously poor but what Waterford did today was brilliant— Paddy Aherne (@Paddyaherne) May 27, 2017
Paralysis by analysis
6 - The number of competitive victories Tyrone have enjoyed over Derry since the beginning of last year.
2 – The number of Dublin players who started Anthony Daly’s last match as manager who featured against Galway yesterday. Liam Rushe and Ryan O’Dwyer are the only survivors from that afternoon just under three years ago.
Man of the weekend
The man – or indeed men – of the weekend are Tom McGlinchey and his Waterford players. It’s the second time this decade that they took an illustrious county to the brink in the championship. In 2013 in Salthill, they had Galway in panic mode in Salthill. As McGlinchey said afterwards, the day will come soon when they fall the right side of a big result.