Did it really have to come to this? It’s not so funny how we don’t talk anymore.
Walking out of St Tiernach’s Park on Saturday night with a rightful pep in your step, you told Sky Sports and the rest of us that you wouldn’t be speaking. In different circumstances, we would understand. Job half done. Only a draw. Your three suspended boys returning for the replay. Best to keep your powder dry.
But, see, we knew you were angry with us. We heard your selector Peter McDonnell’s words before the game about how Paradegate was reported: “We are not happy with an awful lot of the media attentions that skewed what the huge reality was for Armagh.”
We’d like to know why such a finger was levelled at the Fourth Estate. Was it the criticism of your comments after beating Cavan when you told RTÉ that “the incident before the match was blown out of proportion”? But, Paul, this was just after the game. What proportion was there to blow it out of?
Or was it the account of the Cavan flag bearer in the St Michael’s band who told the Anglo Celt newspaper that Ciarán McKeever had asked her in no uncertain terms to switch sides before the parade? She recalled: “The Armagh captain came up and said ‘Move’. I said ‘pardon?’ and he said ‘Move to f**k to the other side’ ... If he had asked me politely, I’d have said ‘certainly, no problem’.”
We know it takes two to tango and on Twitter we highlighted a photograph which showed an apparent eye gouge on one of your players in that fracas. Of course, the GAA’s disciplinary authorities can’t work with photographs only unedited video evidence. You clearly feel hard done by, how is it our fault exactly?
The last time you and this column spoke was in 2012, the year after you left Seamus McEnaney’s side in Meath. You defended a besieged Banty to the hilt. You hit out at some of the ex-Meath players in the media who you felt had done little or nothing but criticise and undermine.
You said: “Some of the things that were said about Seamus were an attempt to make a joke out of us. That’s one of the problems with management now. You have these people who have a platform to utter complete rubbish about you.
“Kieran McGeeney no longer lives on his playing career. He lives on his management career. Kevin Walsh in Sligo is the same. Jim McGuinness in Donegal is the same. Medals might get you a managerial job but you’ve got to show you can do it afterwards.”
You were completely right then, Paul, and you, as an articulate and forthright man, often are. Before you were appointed as Armagh manager, we wrote that it was only right you would one day take the reins after being overlooked so surprisingly in 2007.
Between then and the end of 2012, other counties benefited from your expertise and now, finally, in your native one you are alongside two shrewd customers in McGeeney and Peter McDonnell.
But we must admit we scratched our head earlier this year when you more or less announced during a particularly difficult Division 2 campaign that you would be stepping down at the end of the season. We’re unsure exactly what good could come from that.
Likewise, we’re at a loss to fathom what positivity will come from adopting what appears to be a contrived siege mentality. Isn’t an unsettled battle with Monaghan followed by the prospect of another against Donegal or Tyrone a week or two later enough than to be now staring daggers at the media?
We know it’s not personal, Paul. Last year certainly was when you admitted you gave consideration to boycotting RTÉ after Joe Brolly claimed you were out of your depth.
Saturday showed you are clearly not.
See, not everyone is out to get you but that’s the impression you’re giving.
Hope to talk again.
Yours, The Fogarty Forum
Finishing narrative more important than cash Replays, the most sagely of observers will tell you, never generate the same crowds as the original games.
Might that have been a reason why the Leinster Council chose not to accept RTÉ’s request to televise round two of Kilkenny and Galway last Sunday? Surely the excitement of the first bout would have been enough to draw a healthy crowd to O’Connor Park in Tullamore again. Then again, this was the second time in 12 months that a Leinster hurling semi-final replay involving Kilkenny hasn’t been shown.
In this championship alone, it is the third of four replays that won’t be shown live on television. It came after the Tyrone-Down first round Ulster game, Cork and Waterford’s Munster quarter-final and before this weekend’s Ulster semi-final stalemate between Armagh and Monaghan.
From a promotional perspective, the championship is about telling a story. We’ve only just entered July and already four games have been half-told. If the British market is such a concern for the GAA, then something should be done about having live cameras in Clones again next Sunday.
Yes, the Cork-Waterford replay was shown on the RTÉ website but if the GAA really want to get it right they should ensure viewers have a chance to watch the replays or insist extra-time applies to all games up to but excluding provincial finals.
That wouldn’t suit the provincial councils who obviously have vested interests in gate receipts but there’s something more important here: finishing the narrative.
Counties may get cold feet come Congress
Eugene McGee wasn’t the only one taken aback by just how many of his Football Review Committee’s recommendations were supported by Central Council on Saturday. This column was too and we will be watching on at Congress next year with much interest to see if the counties don’t get cold feet.
For example, handing over overall authority to the Central Competitions Control Committee for fixtures at national, provincial, county, club, third level and schools is quite the undertaking and as McGee himself asked: did the delegates really think it through?
Croke Park have recently called for county chairmen or secretaries to represent their counties on Central Council to avoid miscommunication or, in some cases, misrepresentation.
Such a move makes absolute sense as it would help ensure what motions are supported in the boardroom are endorsed at Congress. But for now we have our doubts about all these FRC proposals supported at the weekend getting the green light in Cavan next February.
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