This Hall of Fame has been on the go for a couple of years, having begun with the teams of the millennium, with a couple of players included in its ranks every year thereafter. I could use the US term, inducted, but there’s something vaguely suggestive of a doctor putting on surgical gloves about that term. I think we’ll stick with included.
My point here is that it appears people felt there were candidates who deserved to be members of such an august group ahead of Jimmy Barry-Murphy, even though there are many others, myself included, who would question the validity of such a concept if it did not have the man from St Finbarr’s as a founding member, if not actually providing the basic criteria for inclusion: All-Ireland-deciding goals at 19 in one code; All-Ireland-deciding goal in another code five years later.
Anyway. Onwards. I note that Barry-Murphy comment-ed on the dual player issue at the ceremony in Croke Park. “It’s not going to be a factor ever again,” he said. “I was just trying to be selfish, trying to use it because we were trying to get Aidan Walsh and Damien Cahalane in. Myself and (football manager) Brian Cuthbert had a chat.
“Brian wasn’t entirely happy either. He’d rather they were playing football only. Neither of us were prepared to put the guns to the players’ heads. The players themselves realised in the course of the year, and I did too, it wasn’t fair to them. I would say a decision has to be made now, pretty much after minor, definitely.”
I raise it here not to weep for the glory days of the Munster championship, nor to raise a matter I have mentioned here before, the oddness of the GAA itself suppressing participation in both its most popular sports, though that’s an allied point.
What struck me about the comments was the tacit acceptance that this simply can’t be done. Barry-Murphy was wearing a manager’s hat and pointing to what he and his management team were trying to achieve, but his views of the end of (dual) days isn’t confined to the men working the sideline in the summer.
When you point out to other members of the fourth estate that it’s wrong, perhaps, to accept some notions in the GAA as a reality we simply have to deal with, you can meet the sort of reaction from some of them which are... well, as Kingsley Amis said in one of his novels, you might as well say I don’t know much about modern art but I know what I like.
The danger here for the GAA is some concepts gain traction and can’t be reversed out of existence that easily. If you’d said a few years ago that some intercounty managers would simply shut down entire counties’ championships while their teams were on the trail of All-Ireland success, or that negativity and cynicism would be openly acknowledged elements of achieving such success... it’s not that you’d have been laughed at. But you’d have been laughed at if you’d predicted how quickly such ideas gained the credibility of hard currency in the GAA stock market.
This is the significant part of the equation, for my money. The acceleration of acceptance within the GAA. Fetishising the latest passing trends into accepted normality means you’ve got a succession of contradictory notions bumping and bobbing against each other like icebergs in the South Atlantic.
No club games versus plenty club games. Playing hurling and football versus playing only hurling and/or only football.
None of it is helped by looseness in terminology and description, of course. I note that Jimmy Barry-Murphy joined a GAA Hall of Fame last week. A GAA Gaelic Football Hall of Fame and a hurling equivalent would be more accurate, though; it’d be lonely enough otherwise for Barry-Murphy and the handful of other real GAA stars, as in those who played the organisation’s sports to the highest standard.
You’re probably aware of BBC commentator Steve Cram, the former World Championship 1,500m gold medallist, saying the Jamaican sprinter had “saved the sport” with his recent World Championship 100m victory over Justin Gatlin. “That comment was not about Justin Gatlin,” Cram said later, clarifying his remarks.
“The whole sport needed its hero to win and the one thing Justin Gatlin probably can never be is a hero. Bolt is popular because of his lack of arrogance, Gatlin has been unpopular because of his lack of contrition.”
I don’t want to be pessimistic, but isn’t Cram leaving something of a hostage to set Usain Bolt up as the hero of an entire sport?
Just back from a few days off in a county nearby.
Went out for food one evening and here’s a random sample of the waiter’s chat.
“We don’t have that.” “I’d have to check about that.” “There’s no bread with that.” “We don’t have that flavour. I’d have to check the others....”
Another day we went looking for food in a fair-sized town. One place had a blackboard outside advertising specials, but was locked up and shut down. At the next spot two of us ordered fish, waited 40 minutes, and then the waitress said the kitchen had no fish. We left.
At the next spot one of us ordered the soup advertised on the specials board at the back of the restaurant. That wasn’t the soup at all, the waitress said. It was something different. In fairness, the food in our last port of call was nice. At that stage we were an hour and a half looking for something, though. The leg of the table looked appetising.
The Eamonn Ryan-trained Cork ladies football team made it to a tenth TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football final in 11 years over the weekend, beating Kerry by 13 points at the Gaelic Grounds to set up a clash with Dublin or Armagh.
This extraordinary story of success is known to all, but if you’re not on Twitter you may not know that Mary White, who often appears on these pages, has written a book about this team which will soon appear on your radar.
Make room on your shelves.