Larry Ryan: Technology turns football upside down

Larry Ryan: Technology turns football upside down

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes reacts to a decision during the Premier League match against Southampton last weekend. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Look, you were warned on this page about VAR as long ago as 2012, so there’s no need for any more told you sos.

Even if you were assured too last month that the penalty Raheem Sterling won in the Euro semi-final would be a game-changer for English football.

Having made so little of the ridiculous decision that sank the Danes, having given it the old ‘that’s football, innit’, it was obvious the English could never again get worked up about contact in the box or an arm in an unnatural position once the bread and butter restarted? And sure enough, the Premier League now appears to have moved into its post-foul era.

We heard from Down Under last month that shark attacks are being rebranded as “negative encounters”to improve the image of the maligned shark. The reasoning being that, in most cases, humans are provoking any bites, or “initiating contact”, in the parlance of the Premier League.

Now the foul is being similarly reworked as a “physical contest”.

In their bafflement, certain Premier League gaffers have likened what they are seeing to the horrors of rugby. Though there are some echoes of hurling too in the new importance placed on “letting the game flow”. Maybe it’s time to introduce Mike Riley to Fergal Horgan.

In reality, this is the only way football can loosen the grip VAR had taken on the game. Because VAR was seeing too much, football now has to pretend there is nothing to see. And if football can lurch from one extreme to the other in this way, consider this fair warning for anybody pleading for more “technology” in hurling.

Aren’t we all more alive when Cork are Cork?

It’s more than 31 years since I landed first in Cork, the mother driving. I think we must have ventured down Barrack Street and across the South Gate bridge.

Whatever the route, it was not strictly in accordance with the conventions of the one-way system.

Coming against us was the unmistakable Jim Cashman, typically unhurried thankfully, and firm but fair in his turnaround gesture — delivered with customary panache off his good side.

A foretaste of events to come, as Jim held firm and Cork set Tipp straight again the following summer. Though I noticed one of his colleagues in that great double team being a bit more forthright lately, on Twitter, in his insistence that I should ‘go back to Tipperary and stay there’ after what could be considered one too many analyses of Corkness on this page.

And that’s Corkness too, in fairness, that “what would they know about it” umbrage when it comes to the nosiness of outsiders.

So you’ll hear no more about it here, for the foreseeable, except to suggest that it shouldn’t be forgotten, amid last Sunday’s disappointment, that great red tide of optimism going into the final.

It never really suited them, the pessimism, nor all those years we spent wondering if Cork are Cork.

Was it those surges of Jack O’Connor electricity that triggered something? Brought to mind that old certainty when Mul or Fitzgibbon or Hennessy bore down on goal.

Or did it all swing on Patrick Collins’ late save against Clare — much like it did after Ger Cunningham’s brave stand against Martin Naughton.

Then the minors and 20s provided assurance that the house was back in order, that they are driving the right road.

It was all enough to convince many people they were going to do it.

And however it turned out, didn’t we all feel that bit more alive when Cork were Cork again?

Glossy treatment for women’s game?

Three years ago, for this column, I carried out highly scientific research involving the purchase of an armful of women’s magazines — using the appearance of the word ‘Woman’ in big font on the front as a trusty guide.

Over 384 pages there was one story related to sport, about a running club, and one photo of a sportsperson — Dessie Dolan at a charity do.

Lacking the tireless zeal for work of those innocent days, my latest survey involved glancing at the covers of the latest crop of monthlies and noting there still seems a scarcity of sportswomen among the radiant beauty secrets and great garden ideas and uplifting new season styles.

Among the many ways women’s sport has been historically let down in the media, it seems the editors of women’s magazines decided, somewhere along the line, that women aren’t interested in sport.

All the more notable then to see evoke.ie named as title sponsor of the Women’s FAI Cup.

A natural fit for a “website for Irish women” without a sports section?

At the launch, Shels’ Ciara Grant might have hit upon one of the reasons why glossy mags haven’t been a traditional home for sport.

“I think if you start looking at your body more of a machine, like a car, and you need energy to fuel your body... so these fad diets and fasting, you don’t do that with other things so why would you do that with your body? We all come in different shapes and sizes.

“You know you’re eating good nutritious food and you’re getting your 150 minutes of exercise a week, you don’t have to be what these social media outlets want you to be.”

The new partnership will sit in the website’s wellness section, which should give it a sporting chance of making an impact.

And DMG Media CEO Paul Henderson vows the brand will invest to build an audience for domestic women’s football if it’s not already there.

He even promised to share the findings for future scientific studies.

Limerick’s circles of influence

There’s a passage in the short story Prosinecki, from Adrian Duncan’s recent collection Midfield Dynamo, that describes a soccer player who has found his rhythm mid-career, who has become “rapid and healthy” as he has ever been, and whose intellect on the field is developing at such a rate that he is “approaching genius”.

“My circle of influence around the team was widening and becoming more intense. My personality was extending through the field of play, sometimes into the opposition’s shape, and my opponents couldn’t dismantle it, no matter how hard they hit me.

“I then began to intuit when the opposition started reading me and would mix my play between: passing, or keeping the ball, or turning on it, or holding. I was at once far above and deep within the eddies of play.”

When you read the passage and have to decide which of many Limerick hurlers it fits best, it’s a nice measure of the effectiveness of their preparation and the size of the task to knock them off the perch.

All those unbreakable circles of influence, intersecting deep within and high above.

Heroes and villains

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

Ellen Keane: Everyone will want a piece of her when she comes home, but after all she has given since childhood as perhaps Ireland’s most visible ambassador for inclusion and inspiration for people with disabilities, she deserved that gold all for herself. “I finally did something that I knew I was capable of. I was just so chilled about it. I knew I was capable of that. I didn’t feel the need to react with my arms throwing in the air because I knew that was for me.”

HELL IN A HANDCART

LGFA: There was some method in the ruling back when they were chasing record final crowds, but with capacity capped and ticket demand causing frustration, it made even less sense this week when the customary bulletin arrived banning women and girls across the country from playing challenge matches next Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, so as not to fatally distract them from watching Dublin v Meath.

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