Of the many great crimes that befell the last century, Ultravox’s Vienna being kept off the top of the UK single charts by Joe Dolce’s Shaddaup You Face in 1981 stands most unashamedly among them.
More pompous than The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York being pipped to the Christmas No.1 in 1987 by the Pet Shop Boys’ decent cover of Elvis Presley’s You Are Always On My Mind. More ignorant than Oasis’ Wonderwall being deprived of top spot in 1995 by those Geordie cringe-crooners Robson and Jerome’s I Believe/Up On The Roof.
You just can’t legislate for taste and charts are notoriously unreliable barometers of quality.
Obviously. Then again, seeing the Ed Sheeran rule, not to be mistaken with the Anthony Nash rule, introduced to the UK Top 40 last week so as to prevent acts like him having more than three songs in the chart at any one time and pushing new artists out of the list is most welcome.
Lovely chap, Sheeran, but he’d be in the ha’penny place if The Beatles or The Stones in their pomp were blessed with the same wonders of technology and wealth of distribution.
Hear us out on this one — it requires some explaining — but the GAA’s own ranking issues aren’t too dissimilar on that count.
The criteria used by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) since 2001 followed by the GAA to determine the top championship scorer in hurling is as simple as you would expect: Most scores head the table. It’s a time-honoured scheme in sport only that it isn’t as fair in the national game.
Last season, Shane Dooley finished best by five points only he had played one more game than Seamus Callanan.
The Tipperary man averaged almost a point more per game than Dooley, who scored 2-23 of his total in the Leinster hurling qualifying group.
In 2015, Joe Canning produced the most scores but then Galway had played seven games, three more than Maurice Shanahan and TJ Reid who each averaged 11 points per match compared to Canning’s 10.
In 2014, Callanan was top of the heap having also played seven when Shane Dowling, over four outings, was averaging a point more per match.
It goes without saying that the more games a player contests the more chance he has of scoring. That would be fine and dandy were it not for the fact that a player on a team that has lost or, in Dooley’s case last year, starts in an inferior ancillary competition stands a better chance of leading the order of scoring merit.
On Sunday, Patrick Horgan leapfrogged Christy Ring to become Cork’s all-time championship top scorer.
But for venerated statistician Leo McGough, who really should be on the GAA’s payroll by this stage, we would not have known such a fact.
The Carlow man has done the organisation a great service recording the feats of the game’s protagonists. This newspaper yesterday carried hurling’s top 10 scorers, compiled by Gough, where Horgan now lies fifth — Henry Shefflin, Eddie Keher, Eoin Kelly, Joe Canning, Horgan, Ring, DJ Carey, Joe Deane, Nicky Rackard and Niall Gilligan.
Given that Shefflin, Kelly, Canning, Horgan and, to a lesser extent, Carey, Deane and Gilligan have played in the qualifier age where there have been more games, a more accurate assessment of their achievements would be their averages.
Were that the case, the listing would read Canning 8.89 points per game, Keher 8.78, Shefflin 7.95, Rackard 7.75, Horgan 7.11, Kelly 6.84, Deane 5.48, Carey 5.04, Ring 4.67 and Gilligan 4.59.
A more distilled version might subtract the number of frees they scored from their totals but the biggest asterisk is the advance of technology.
Pitches are immaculate in contrast to yesteryear. Preparations nowadays make a mockery of what players did to ready themselves for matches in the past.
The sliotar was once the equivalent of a round shot but it is lighter than ever now with ridges/rims (supposed to be now less than 2mm) so small that making clean contact with the leather has never been easier.
GAA director of games development Pat Daly has even spoken about a ridge-less sliotar. And then there’s the hurley. The bás, by rule, can’t be more than 13cm at its widest part. It’s the most flouted law in the game.
Let’s not get too caught up in such negatives — hurling is in great fettle.
This championship, probably the last of its kind in format, is providing a mesmerising swan-song. Its evolution is extraordinary. Would the greats like Ring and Keher never mind the forefather rule-makers foreseen the “solo bounce”, demonstrated so expertly by Alan Cadogan in scoring his goal on Sunday, becoming a bona fide skill?
But comparing the deeds of the past with those now when scores now come cheaper is a faulty exercise.
It’s not Horgan’s fault that he is being lined up alongside Ring.
It was evident in interviews after Sunday’s game that being mentioned in the same breath as his illustrious club-mate embarrassed Horgan, a genial guy who has shot back to form. He too knows it’s not a like-for-like comparison.
Ultravox’s Midge Ure took great consolation in Vienna outselling Shaddap You Face.
As Phil Swern, producer of BBC Radio 2’s Twos on 2, the documentary on the greatest near-misses in UK music, said: “If you asked someone if Wonderwall or Strawberry Fields Forever got to number one, I think most people would say yes.”
Ring may have been eclipsed but Ring is still Ring.
We’re not sure if the Kilkenny bus that made its way down Thurles’ Parnell St last Saturday night was subjected to the same cheerios from rival supporters, a lot of them Tipperary, as their supporters leaving Semple Stadium. But if they were, the chances are the schadenfreude would have made Brian Cody’s mind up about staying on next season.
There are none better in the defiance business than Kilkenny and nobody more defiant than Cody. Should he be recommended a 12-week ban for the exchange with fourth official Justin Heffernan, it’s most likely it will be contested regardless of it having no impact on him. In 2013, Henry Shefflin’s second yellow card in the quarter-final defeat to Cork was successfully queried by Kilkenny even though it carried no suspension. They felt it imperative his good name be restored.
Where others might see futility, the Cats see opportunity and the success of their underage teams so far this summer and the prospect of Richie Hogan being fully fit next season will sustain them as much as the slights they might perceive when people compliment the quality of this championship in which they have been beaten twice and now exited.
Remember how Cody was insulted by the garlands thrown Clare’s way in 2013?
Cody is entitled to exit when he sees fit. He has revived Kilkenny before and he can again as much as he attempted to distinguish his future from the county’s following Saturday’s loss to Waterford. Saturday wasn’t without the spirit accustomed to displays from his teams but to bow out on such a note? Well, it’s just not Cody.
An All-Ireland senior hurling title every five years. That was the goal set out in Dublin’s strategic plan back in 2011 to be attained by this season. As aspirational as it was, it’s a misfire that shouldn’t sit too easily with the county board. Yet when they fix hurling league games to clash with their senior hurlers’ championship qualifier as they did on Saturday you wonder just how determined they are about fulfilling it.
By 2018, it will be five years since Dublin last played an All-Ireland series’ game in Croke Park never mind a final, which they last reached in 1961. Their goal set out for the footballers — the Sam Maguire Cup every three seasons — was far more reasonable. But were the county board guilty of projecting their hopes for their footballers on the hurlers?
In fairness, at the time of its writing, Anthony Daly was making progress only the house that Dalo built was razed to the ground when all it required was an extension. More, much more, could have been done in the back channels to try and mend the relationship between Ger Cunningham and several of the players who served Daly so well.
As Cunningham bows out, it’s essential that his successor be a uniting force capable of a charm offensive. Daly might just be enticed back but there are others who too could mend fences and not be afraid to demand the same respect commanded by the footballers.
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