A dignified way to call it quits

Mutual consent.

A dignified way to call it quits

That phrase we’re supposed to swallow every time a Premier League manager is sacked.

Andres Villas-Boas’s departure from Tottenham Hotspur yesterday morning prompted those two abused words less than 24 hours after he said he wasn’t the quitting kind.

The GAA has its own version of mutual consent but it’s strictly applicable to players. One that can be accepted so much easier than the PR muck spread across the Irish Sea.

One that is a more endearing, believable and dignified expression for a, sometimes disagreeable, parting of ways.

One wonderful word that can cloak the courtesy afforded to a hurler or footballer to end his time on his own terms even when they’re not.

Retirement.

After Charlie Carter, Brian Cody became a master of breaking bad news, always leaving it up to the player to make the call although he had already made up his own mind.

It’s part of what has made the Kilkenny manager so good: empowering his men to take the right path.

Niall Moran’s recent decision, just like Tom Kenny’s last week, was an announcement laden with nobility. It was the least both deserved after providing so much service to Limerick and Cork.

Moran argued the inter-county game has become no place for married or working men. The average ages of the teams in the first All-Ireland final this year (Clare 23.2, Cork 24.26) would chime with a lot of what he had to say.

But prior to that game former Cork defender Ronan Curran gave a more accurate explanation than Moran’s about the reason for the drop in age profile of the inter-county hurler.

“Nowadays if you leave your man for a second, the chances are the opposition will find him with a clever short pass and you will be in trouble.

“This is why it is now a young man’s game and its going to get harder and harder for the older lads whose pace is dwindling to survive as an inter-county hurler.”

Moran, 31 wasn’t regularly featuring in the Limerick team. Kenny, 32, was dropped for the first All-Ireland final game. In these pages on Saturday, he admitted he had noticed himself slipping in the pace stakes.

“There wasn’t a moment, or a game, but you might be doing sprints in training, or trying to catch someone, and you know.”

He had seen the writing on the wall.

It’s well known only one or two of the six Cork footballers who stepped aside in recent months had designs about playing on. But looking across the rest of the 20 or so prominent inter-county players who are now out in pasture, just how many were pushed rather than pulled? There’s no doubting John Mulllane still has what it takes to shine on the biggest stage. Ditto Marty McGrath, Gary Hurney and Redmond Barry.

But others either realised or were told the game was up. Brendan Cummins, as excellent as he has been right up until the end, was feeling Darren Gleeson’s breath getting hotter and hotter on his neck. The same for Pascal McConnell with Niall Morgan in Tyrone while Gary Connaughton’s career had just come to a natural end.

Eoin Brosnan’s injuries throughout the year had knocked his chances of regular first-team appearances. Dermot Earley couldn’t put his aching body through more punishment just to feature from the bench and his team-mate Ronan Sweeney’s forays off it had become infrequent. Clare substitute Fergal Lynch had crowned his career with an All-Ireland and had nothing left to prove. Padraig Clancy earlier in the year admitted the wide spaces of Croke Park were a challenge. Eamonn O’Hara had simply burnt his bridges.

Tomás Ó Sé was good for another year but realised he had braced the finishing line: “I went as hard as I could for as long as I could.”

One truism applies to top level Gaelic games just as does to soccer: the game quits you. But in the GAA there is a far better way of saying so.

* john.fogarty@examiner.ie

O’Neill may be renegade but he talks a lot of sense

In the GAA’s eyes, Donal O’Neill was the devil incarnate as the founder of the GPA. His commercial aspirations just not palatable.

We use the gastronomic adjective because he is now making things uneasy for governments with the release this week in South Africa of his documentary, The Cereal Killers.

O’Neill questioned how we are told to eat after his healthy-living father, former Down star Kevin, suffered a heart attack despite his only vice being one cigar a month. His discovery suggests an unconventional high fat, low carb diet reduces diabetes risk and heart problems. The diet is endorsed by Dr Peter Brukner, medic to Australia’s cricketers and Liverpool FC but runs against low fat, high carb practices supported by governments.

The irony is the GAA is coming around to O’Neill’s thinking, at least in some areas. Last month, he told this newspaper the process of counties attracting sponsorship had to change. “The GAA needs to take a long strategy and maybe make 15 or 20 counties available to five or six major sponsors. Nobody gets left out that way.”

Earlier this month GAA president Liam O’Neill, revealed: “I could see is a situation where two or three counties could come together and possibly do better with a joint bid for sponsorship than if they go about it individually.” O’Neill was and is a renegade. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

Support for Nugent GPA claims

Tipperary chairman Sean Nugent became the first county official to question the GPA’s fundraising activities in New York.

This column knows of at least two other chairman who would privately back up Nugent’s viewpoint.

What has to be understood is the official players body operates within the auspices of the GAA. If counties have issues with them they should be expressing their concerns to the higher powers within the organisation.

The GPA have every right to generate funds — and they are equipped with talented and full-time officials to maximise such activities — but should it be at the expense of counties? Or is it high time county boards upped their game when heading Stateside for handouts?

Nugent said ex-pats were confused who to give money to. We’d argue they are simply tapped out.

That’s the impression we took from the city after last year’s All Stars trip there.

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