Welcome to the long hot summer of Twitter

Twitter is spreading through the GAA like mumps through Coppers.

Welcome to the long hot summer of Twitter

IT might not be this Sunday, but some Sunday soon it’ll happen. The thud of fist against table. The scatter of kicked water bottles. The flake of ash off the jam of a door. The clang of an old loser’s medal bouncing down a corridor. The silence of a theatrical moment. And then the umbrage. “Lads, you know well what that beeswax said about us during the week.”

And there it will be. A proud monument to a smart economy. A screenshot of a Tweet pinned to the door of a GAA dressing room for the very first time. Another blow to the newspaper trade.

Because, make no mistake, Twitter is spreading through the GAA like mumps through Coppers.

In truth, they took their time. As footballers, rugby players and golfers flooded Twitter with their banter and big talk over the past 18 months, we wondered when the GAA lads would follow.

Sure there was the odd solo run, Mayo lads mainly, but it was a trickle.

Eventually, like nearly everything in Ireland, you could almost directly trace the rise of it to a warning not to go near it — like when Pope Paul VI sent that Encyclical and almost immediately people realised they wanted condoms.

As soon as GAA HQ lectured players in April about the pitfalls of Twitter, they might as well have put a smartphone in every gear bag in the country.

So far it’s been harmless enough stuff.

This week Tipp’s injured star Brendan Maher admitted a growing admiration for the “slick” Michael Buble, though perhaps more heartening for Tipp followers was the news he had broken into a run as a hurley carrier last Sunday night. Maher not Buble.

Less crucially, we learned from Finn McGarry that Conal Keaney’s motions remained regular, while civil war almost erupted in Kerry when Paul Galvin cut the crotch out of five pairs of Darran O’Sullivan’s boxers. At least, in a seemingly unrelated move, Paul made amends by introducing Darran to Georgia Salpa.

We heard too Alan O’Mara hurt knee ligaments and Cathal McCarron’s back was at him and that’s when we realised the great shift this movement could bring in the balance of power in the stands and terraces this summer.

What will this new access to players mean for the lad who used to know it all?

You’ll recognise him from the nudge in the ribs he’ll give you the minute you settle in your seat. “O’Brien will come into the corner,” he’ll mutter, gesturing dismissively with a cap at the discredited document that is your match programme and keeping the voice down in case the lad the other side of him has a direct line to the opposition dugout.

“Nah,” you’ll counter, “sure O’Brien said during the week he was crippled with rickets. On Twitter…,” you’ll trail off, half ashamed, taking your sandwiches out of your man-bag.

And life for a crestfallen sage will never be the same again. At least until he logs on that evening anyway.

With loose words and leaks bound to spring everywhere, what does the future hold for the dummy team? The manager can check and double-check that the PRO sent out the right wrong team but it will all be for naught when the lad he has down at 15 is telling his followers how much he’s looking forward to Oxygen on Sunday.

We’ve seen nothing yet. As I write, Darran O’Sullivan is trying to persuade the Gooch to come on board and that, if it comes to pass, will surely be the final tipping point. And that’s even before the commercial opportunities present themselves. Remember the gulps of Club Energise that were worth 500 notes a swallow a few summers back until RTÉ poured that one down the drain. Twitter chiefs have no such objections to a bit of shilling.

We look forward, then, to the Summer Of Twitter but mainly we can’t wait for the first fellow to truly let rip and end up on that dressing room door. With that in mind, is a recall for the ever-frank Conor Mortimer to the Green and Red really too much to ask? @conmort: “Was out kicking earlier and kicking serious spinners. Accuracy or class never goes to sleep BOOM :)!!!!!! Watch this space!” PS: Follow some of the lads at @cullohill22, @finnmcgarry, @pgal10, @kconal, @darransull86, @mac_cearain, @aomthecat. Oh and @georgiasalpa. Or say hello at @ryanlarry

King Kenny comes home

WHEN Peter Robinson showed up at Ewood Park in April 1993, Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish gave him a lift back to the car park. “Kenny, when are you coming home?” asked the Liverpool chief executive. “When are you coming back to Liverpool?”

“Peter, you just have to ask,” replied Dalglish, then two years into his new life. “You just have to phone.”

But the call never came and as Dalglish said last year in his excellent autobiography My Liverpool Home, “regret has been my constant companion ever since.”

Finally on Thursday, Dalglish shed the caretaker tag and threw himself wholeheartedly again into the on-off love affair that began when he arrived from Scotland as a 15-year-old for a trial in front of Bill Shankly.

Twenty-one years after he won Liverpool their last title, the regret should be all theirs.

Sport’s cruel ability to carry on regardless

“EXTRAORDINARY how cruel football can be,” suggested Sky Sport’s Ed Chamberlain after Peter Crouch’s own-goal against Manchester City dashed Tottenham’s Champions League ambitions, 370 days after Crouchy had, from almost the same blade of grass, secured Spurs’ qualification against City.

The real cruelty was football and sport seemed to have forgotten already the awful tragedy of the day before, when a year truly had made all the difference in a young sportsman’s life.

I didn’t know much about Wouter Weylandt until I heard the 26-year-old Belgian had lost his life on the third stage of the Giro d’Italia.

And I had to turn to YouTube for images of Wouter a year earlier, beaming as he fielded kisses on the podium having outsprinted Graeme Brown to take the same stage of the same race. As he pumped the bubbly, all over his face was written the joy and relief of a guy who had drawn criticism for a poor spell of form. You couldn’t help hope he’d always rest on that podium in Middelburg.

As the Giro peloton pedalled slowly on Tuesday in silent tribute and Weylandt’s team-mates packed their bags for home afterwards, it seemed pretty evident how futile sport, and a lot of other things besides, truly is.

But then Crouchy came along with his small irony and sport — cruel as it is — showed us the only way to cope when real tragedy touches our lives. Keep on going.

RIP Wouter and Seve.

Judge & Jury


THE RAP: Grave robbing the FA Cup just to bang one last nail in its coffin.

EVIDENCE: As Abide With Me is being sung this afternoon, many on these shores will be watching Nani dance around Ewood Park in his underpants being showered with champagne.

PROSECUTION: Shouldn’t Cup final morning be devoted to awful songs and Ryan Shawcross introducing his team mates with a playful kick to the tibia?

THE DEFENCE: Mr Platini said we can’t play games two weeks before the Big Cup. And the police blah, blah... and we couldn’t whine, whine…

CROSS-EXAMINATION: At the very least, insist the full Premier League schedule was moved to Sunday, like next week’s.

INADMISSABLE: Saint and Greavsie’s thoughts on all of this.

VERDICT: Guilty as sin. Much like United’s pullout in 2000, you can never take this slight on the old trophy back.

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