One weekend. One lousy weekend. That was enough for the dual player haters to point their guns towards these men of brilliant dexterity and shoot.
Their pistols had been cocked long ago but when it all came tumbling down upon the code breakers on Saturday and Sunday, they fired. Incessantly.
It was high noon on the online social forums but this was a duel Cork’s dual players could not win. Aidan Walsh, clearly not fit for most of the Munster final after picking up a first-half injury, was riddled. Eoin Cadogan, who only returned to county action last month, was maimed. Damien Cahalane, playing his first competitive game for Cork’s footballers since April, was wounded.
Michael Shields was also picked out from the line for punishment but most of the bullets were kept for the trio with the audacity to be good enough to be selected for both their county’s football and hurling teams.
There wasn’t much rod spared for them in the traditional media either, Irish Examiner columnist Tony McEntee pinpointing their extra commitments as one of the reasons for Cork’s demise on Sunday.
On The Sunday Game, Dermot Earley raised the issue of Walsh’s performance in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. “He’s obviously trying to keep his touch with the hurling and sometimes your game suffers like that. That sharpness, that you do need to drive for that ball around the middle of the field, will suffer if you’re not playing [football] week in, week out.”
On RTÉ Radio One’s new Second Captains Championship show, at least former Wexford footballer and hurler Redmond Barry added balance to the debate. “You’ll regret not trying it if you’re capable of trying it. Is it possible to do it? I think so. I think a lot is put in the media, and with managers of each code obviously wanting 100% of the commitment from the player, and that has to feed into the mentality of the players too. That question — ‘can I really do it?’
“You have one or two games and you go ‘maybe I can’t do it, maybe he’s right, maybe the media are right. Maybe everybody’s right. Maybe it can’t be done’. But I think it can be.”
On Sunday, there also appeared to be a link made between Podge Collins’ football commitments and his rash but out-of-character moment of madness on Saturday.
It didn’t help the dual players either that in the same game in Ennis, Lee Chin of Wexford turned in a display that indicated opting out of football this year was the best thing he could have done for his hurling career.
Chin, like the rest of them, used to burn the candle at both ends but it was indicated to him that it would be in his best interests to stop chasing his tail and pick one. To be selfish.
The irony is dual players, while more selfish about their time than their county colleagues — which is really saying something, are among the most altruistic people in the association. Nobody gives more to the county jersey as them.
Cadogan, had he focused on one game for more than last season, may have an All-Star to his name by this stage. The expectations on such men are twofold. They would fully accept they are held to a higher standard than most but there has to be an allowance made: fairness.
Cadogan, Cahalane and Walsh all had bad games on Sunday. But Shields and several other single code team-mates were equally if not more disappointing. Why can’t it be accepted that the dual men too had an off-day? Why does it have to be something more? At the very least, they have a chance for redemption again in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday. Win and their critics’ guns will remains in their holsters until they lace up the boots for the footballers’ fourth-round qualifier. Lose and “that blasted hurling” will be replaced by “that blasted football”.
The dual game is another version of Sophie’s Choice but these men who play it are to be cherished. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, they are misfits. You can disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but they can’t be ignored. Because they change things. Because they’re crazy enough to believe they can.
Brooks may not be alone not playing Croker
It’s a right mess the GAA finds itself in with the Garth Brooks, pictured, situation although something doesn’t sit quite right about some of the opposition to the concerts.
Five gigs in as many nights is a stretch but when there are so many accusations flying around about forged petition signatures against the concerts, the views of several locals not being represented and then the actual primary residence of some of the committee’s leaders scrutiny must focus on the naysayers as well.
There are suggestions two of the concerts may be accommodated at later dates, possibly Wednesday and Thursday July 30 and 31. Were that to happen, both Kerry’s and the Connacht winners’ All-Ireland quarter-finals could be moved away from Croke Park.
Would that really be equitable? On Twitter on Sunday night, Kerry defender Shane Enright posted: “Thanks to all the Kerry supporters for travelling today. Great atmosphere. Great performance. Bring on croker”. He mightn’t be so lucky.
Let’s play U21 programme earlier in calendar
We mention dual players elsewhere in today’s forum but there is another brand of them who don’t appear to be a fair shake of it at the moment.
Tomorrow evening, nine of Liam Dunne’s senior hurlers face Dublin in an U21 Leinster final, four days after their extra-time draw with Clare, and three days before the replay.
On Thursday week, Waterford face Cork in a Munster U21 semi-final, with several of Derek McGrath’s panel involved. Their delayed round two qualifier clash with Clare or Wexford will take place the following Saturday, meaning two games for the likes of Jake Dillon in three days.
Saturday’s draw in Ennis has created quite the fixtures pile-up and raised no end of welfare concerns for the young players involved. But it also goes to show how delicate the Championship is to a drawn game. As rare as these things are, especially after extra-time, might it be better to run off the U21 competition earlier? Just to be on the safe side?
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