SO, Christy, still think having an outside manager “doesn’t work”? That’s what you were saying not long before you were handing the national league trophy over to John McCaffrey.
In your campaign to wipe out the “cancer” of payment to managers, you discredited the practice of hiring outside managers, among which would have numbered Anthony Daly.
Of course, as Liam O’Neill belatedly pointed out, there’s a distinction between hiring an outside manager and paying one, though how he differentiates between one that has and hasn’t been paid, he didn’t tell (how could he?).
But suppose, for the sake of argument, Anthony Daly has received financial compensation for all that commuting from Clare. Hasn’t he been worth every cent?
For the gate alone that the Daly Effect drew to Croke Park last Sunday? For how it has rewarded and energised generations of hurling people in the country’s biggest population centre and how it will inspire and spawn generations more to come?
Of course, Daly didn’t do it alone. There’s been great work done by hundreds of mentors, from the men of the quiet fields coaching armies of kids all around the city, to Daly’s predecessor, Tommy Naughton. But for Dublin to make this impact this soon it took a giant of the game to stand on their shoulders. Only someone with Daly’s persona and big-time know-how would have landed Dublin their first national league title since Hitler was going strong.
You have to go back nine years since the inter-county hurling scene witnessed such an uplifting and healthy development. Christy Cooney should remember what that was. It was he, as provincial council chairman, who handed the Munster championship title over to Fergal Hartley, the first Waterford man to receive the trophy since JFK was in full health, and listened to Hartley thank the contribution of Justin McCarthy — an outside manager — and that of his predecessor, Gerald McCarthy — another outsider.
President-elect Liam O’Neill recently defended Cooney in the wake of Eddie O’Connor’s blunt attack on the incumbent president, rightly pointing out that it was disrespectful and unhelpful for language and accusations like “gobshite” and “hypocrite” to be chucked around the place.
But it’s also unbecoming of Cooney to be liberally using a term like cancer in his crusade against paying managers. It debases the seriousness of cancer, and inadvertently disrespects people who suffer from the condition. It implicates and slurs great hurling men like Anthony Daly and Donal O’Grady and other genuine GAA men who currently manage an inter-county team that isn’t their native one. Besides, the phenomenon is no great scourge. It represents an inconsistency, sure, but not a scourge.
The GAA should have a lot more to be concerned about, like how a kid in Down, let alone Cavan, can never aspire to play in a top-level hurling national league or All Ireland final (hurling’s about the only sport in the world that can say that to a one-year-old kid: no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you work, you can never play at the highest level in our sport. Now that’s a scandal).
There is a deluded and inconsistent puritanical streak in this whole outside-managers debate. Joe Brolly is firmly in the Cooney camp, on the grounds the GAA is primarily “recreational” and just “a bit of fun” and that it doesn’t really matter if you win or not, so why hire an outside manager; this from a man who routinely castigates the likes of Conor Mortimer and legions of mid-tier — in fact top-tier — teams and players on national television for losing and partaking in this “recreation”.
Brolly is also selective with his facts. He points to Down’s going “with one of their own”, failing to mention that much of James McCartan’s expertise and experience was garnered from coaching St Gall’s and Ballinderry, and was further bolstered within the Down set-up by surrounding himself with Paddy Tally, the Tyrone trainer in 2003, and Brian McIver, another non-native who led Donegal to the 2007 national league title. He conveniently neglected the fact, which this column highlighted, namely that of the 25 counties who have gone outside the county for a football manager in the last two decades, at least 17 of them, and arguably up to 19 of them, had their most successful spell with an outsider at the helm. And yet Christy Cooney tells us that the success rate of outside managers has been “very low”.
This column has also acknowledged the merit of Cooney and O’Neill’s call for clubs and counties to be more self-sufficient in cultivating and appointing coaches. But at certain times, an outside manager is just what you need, to bring on your own. Donal O’Grady is in Limerick for one year to show them a template for success. The natives have been astonished as well as educated by it and will be the ones who will take it on in the years to come. The same with Daly and Dublin.
So consider allowing them to be paid, Christy. And stop tainting the achievements of ‘outsiders’.
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