JOHN FOGARTY: Cutting through manager-speak

Super League Sunday wasn’t going to pass off without a high volume of incidents or sound-bites from management figures attempting to explain away why things didn’t work out so well for them. 

The evening before even brought us claims of “hidden agendas against this squad” from TJ Ryan, albeit after a victory.

But what were the cover-ups and genuine explanations of extenuating circumstances? Allow us try and cut through the manager-speak.

Eoin O’Neill (Cork football selector)

“It is kind of funny. Two teams we beat are with us (on six points) and we are the people going down. We are paying the price for one very bad display, in terms of the scoring side of it. We have won three games and lost four. Kerry lost four games and stayed up in recent years. Luck isn’t on our side today... as a new management team this year, we tried a lot of things, we tried 34 players. Are we paying a price for that? Maybe we are.”

Forum Finding:

There was nothing peculiar about Cork going down having beaten Mayo and Monaghan. Going into the competition, they knew the score difference criteria like everybody else, the same as Galway’s hurlers who knew they would be in a relegation play-off if they finished in the bottom two of Division 1A regardless of earlier results. Cork did indeed pay for the heavy home loss to Roscommon. As for referencing Kerry, Cork’s neighbours did survive having lost four games in 2013 and ‘14 but there were two poorer teams than Kerry on each occasion. O’Neill’s point about Peadar Healy’s need to try out players is more valid rationale although Roscommon were in the same boat.

Micheál Donoghue (Galway hurling manager):

“Throughout the league we have tried a lot of players and we had a bit of inexperience as a result. For the magnitude of the game we could have done with players with a bit more experience, but some lads came in and did well. Throughout the league we have used 32 players and now we want to drive on from here... we will concentrate on the league next year to try to get Galway back into the top flight.”

Forum Finding:

If there was a competition Galway needed to focus on this year it was the league. Relegation has only given added more ammunition to those in the county who were outraged by the players’ stance against Anthony Cunningham.

Donoghue could be forgiven for experimenting but within reason. The welfare of the players is intrinsically linked to that of his own.

TJ Ryan (Limerick hurling manager):

“If you come down to Limerick and see some of the vultures we have down there and read what’s being said — there’s hidden agendas all over the place. There’s hidden agendas against this squad, against some of the backroom team... Look, there’s hidden agendas all over the place in Limerick unfortunately. It’s been part and parcel of my reign. It’s frustrating.”

Forum Finding:

Ryan really needed to be in a position of strength to get these comments off his chest and Saturday’s win provided the chance.

His issues with local media pre-dates his term as manager. A month before he took over with Donal O’Grady in 2013, he posted on Twitter that most reporters were “experts I think not” and added: “loads of them down here in Limk (sic).” Ryan also mentioned how Limerick’s plans to get out of Division 1B in the last two campaigns were stunted by the involvement of Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh in All-Ireland club finals. He’s on the money there although the “vultures” comment suggests his critics have had something to circle around.

Kieran McGeeney (Armagh football manager):

“It’s just disappointing we’re going down but it’s been a tough division. Four teams finished on six points.”

Forum Finding:

Similar to the point made by O’Neill, Armagh knew the consequences before they laced their boots at the end of January so this doesn’t really wash even if they beat Derry and Fermanagh and drew with Meath.

In fairness, McGeeney previously took the rap for the heavy loss to Cavan, which ensured their score difference was inferior to the other three teams.

Michael Ryan (Tipperary hurling manager):

“I assume you guys are aware that we’ve used a huge amount of players throughout this league but what we haven’t been successful in achieving here today is getting through to the next round.”

Forum Finding:

Ryan isn’t known to shy away from telling it like it is although Tipperary named a team on Sunday featuring 11 or 12 of what will likely be the side that will start against Cork on May 22. Experimentation didn’t cost them a semi-final place in Ennis; an inability to finish the job was their downfall.

Eamonn Kelly (Offaly hurling manager):

“We were up for this fight, we weren’t coming down to fulfil a fixture. Maybe we were too pumped up and that’s something we need to look at.”

Forum Finding:

Given Offaly were written off against Kilkenny, they should have played with abandon. Getting psyched up for a game can be debilitating but does it explain why Offaly were 15 points down after 25 minutes having scored just once?


Don’t downplay importance of home comforts

“Get your house in order” – the message that, if it hasn’t by now, will be conveyed to Roscommon by Croke Park after a most embarrassing and costly weekend for the county.

It’s difficult to prove the decision to move Saturday’s Connacht U21 FC final against Mayo to Markievicz Park had a negative impact on their chances but it most certainly didn’t help.

Likewise, the 11th hour decision to switch the seniors’ Division 1 final round game with Dublin from Hyde Park to Páirc Seán MacDiarmada 43 kilometres away deprived them of home comforts.

In one sense, it’s a credit to Roscommon that they reached the semi-finals without winning a single game in the county but the Hyde Park surface has become a hindrance. 

In terms of damage limitation, the complimentary bus service to Carrick-on-Shannon provided by the board was welcome but the qualified apology that was afforded to discommoded supporters on Sunday morning was ill-advised. Westmeath man Dessie Dolan on RTÉ’s Allianz League Sunday actually provided the best defence of the board’s stance regarding the pitch.

If Cork aren’t careful, they may also fall foul of a similar situation in 2018. The county board’s three-year deal to host Munster senior football games against Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium while their venue is under reconstruction, elapses next season. 

Should it not be ready to host a would-be game in 2018, then the likelihood is it will be played at a neutral venue as Kerry are not inclined to owe Cork any more games than what has been agreed.

Hurling’s one-v-one penalty

Consider us unconvinced about the one-versus-one penalty in hurling. 

Most people, including ourselves, believed it, in theory, would provide more of an advantage to the attacking team. But we have yet to see that materialise. The latest example of the case against the new rule came in Parnell Park on Saturday when Nickie Quaid saved from David Treacy. 

Before anyone suggests the Limerick goalkeeper made a fine save or the Dublin forward could have done better, let’s study the scenario for the penalty. 

Instead of being able to concentrate on the quality of his strike, Treacy was clearly concerned about the timing of his run and strike so he didn’t breach the 20m line before making contact with the sliotar.

Without being able to generate momentum, the task of blocking Treacy’s shot was made all the easier for Quaid. Treacy’s plight has been felt by several penalty takers the last 16 months. 

Last season, the conversion rate for penalties was lower than anticipated. 

Hurling 2020 chairman Liam Sheedy believes it will improve this year to approximately 70% but so far there has been little indication it will. Regarded by some as hurling’s greatest safeguard against cynicism, if it fails where will that leave the game then?

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis.

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis.


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