MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: A word of advice for players on dressing-room access

You may have seen it, you may not have, depending on your familiarity with Facebook, the website set up, according to Hollywood, to get back at a girl who dumped a nerd at Harvard.

Anyway, after Waterford cruised to their facile win over Galway in the All-Ireland U21 final the weekend before last, a video surfaced on social media from the winning dressing-room.

The brief clip of film shows manager Sean Power addressing his charges (some of whom, in a real 21st-century-meta-kind-of-way, are scrolling through their own smartphones even as he speaks, maybe checking out in cyberspace what he’s saying).

For a dressing-room junkie, it’s pure gold, and I count myself among those ranks, ever since the day I first togged off in an adult dressing-room and heard someone vomiting with nerves in the toilets. At least I hope they were in the toilets.

Anyway, to see the players in the full flush of victory, the manager emotional at the realisation of a dream, almost a whiff of Lynx Africa wafting from the screen. . . I felt a little uneasy about it.

Why? You may have clocked, late on in the week, a snippet about a teenager in Austria threatening to take her parents to court because they refuse to take down pictures of her they’ve posted on social media - of her potty training and other such adventures. Harmless and humorous to us, but clearly not a matter of mirth to the plaintiff. Her parents contest the case on the basis the pictures are their intellectual property.

Are there implications for dressing-room videos such as those posted from the Waterford dressing-room? Any number of them.

First of all, there are tangled notions here of privacy and consent which need to be sorted out. To the best of this observer’s knowledge, Waterford’s U21 side didn’t include any minors, as it did back in 1992 when they last collected the trophy.

What would be the ramifications of an underage child being filmed in his underwear, or less, without his knowledge, and of that film being subsequently posted on the internet?

There have been other dressing-rooms, other clips. Anyone who has seen the notorious video of Davy Fitzgerald which was filmed surreptitiously in a Limerick Institute of Technology is not likely to forget it, but access to the dressing-room is now a staple in many sports. The American football season is cranking up now, which means shows such as Hard Knocks, which takes you to an NFL team training camp, are back on the television. Even allowing for the fact that those are professionals, however, you can rest assured that the necessary clearances were secured long before the first scenes flickered across the scene. The same with rugby league and Australian Rules, which sometimes appear to have an open door policy when it comes to cameras.

The difference between those sports and Gaelic games is, as referred to earlier, a matter of those dressing-rooms being places of work. Clearly defined parameters exist in terms of employment law when it comes to allowing cameras access, access which clearly comes with sharply drawn rules and boundaries. Do those boundaries exist in GAA dressing-rooms?

If that comes across like so much right-on handwringing, the kind of health and safety waffle that annoys the likes of Nigel Farage, then tough. Given how litigious people can be about the smallest thing, maybe county boards everywhere should be issuing guidelines when it comes to uploading video from dressing-rooms.

Shefflin on course for television stardom

Last week I pointed out that the Tipperary hurlers were showing an irritating amount of common sense in terms of celebrations.

I learned just too late for inclusion, however, that this matter of keeping feet on the ground now extended to gracefully declining an invitation to the team to feature on The Late Late Show.

The kind of hype-avoidance measure designed to create even more concern among counties which do not wear blue and gold.

On a related note, a new documentary featuring Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin will be screened soon on RTÉ.

The Ballyhale man has impressed on The Sunday Game panel over the course of the summer: could we be seeing a new host of the show in action?

Being associated with one code didn’t stop Pat Spillane hosting discussions on hurling.

Furthermore, Shefflin featured in a recent widely-circulated photo in club colours, playing football.

Establishing his bona fides ahead of next season?

Even hard guys have weak spots

A couple of years ago this column chatted to Gary Smith, doyen of long-form American sportswriting.

In the course of the conversation I asked if there were any big fish that had slipped the hook for Smith, anyone he wished he could have interviewed. Al Davis, now-deceased owner of the Oakland Raiders, was his instant selection.

I repeat that here because first, I like reminding people I chat to Gary Smith, and second, because I intend speaking next week to Amy Trask, who has just written the book, You Negotiate Like A Girl.

Trask spent almost three decades working for Davis’s Raiders, in Los Angeles and Oakland, rising eventually to chief executive officer, earning the nickname ‘The Princess of Darkness’ along the way.

Working with Davis meant conflict and argument, but I note he begged her to stop arguing once because she was telling him what exactly disgraced star Michael Vick had been doing to get himself indicted for mistreating his ‘fighting’ dogs — he had been drowning and hanging them.

Even tough guys like Al Davis don’t like cruelty to animals.

What other gems from Lenihan’s memoir?

You may have seen here last Saturday an extract from Donal Lenihan’s forthcoming memoir, a typically honest and searching examination of what it meant to play for Ireland at a time when some of his teammates from the North needed Special Branch protection.

I look forward to the rest of the book with interest. I can only hope he tells the truth about his seven-star accommodation in Toulouse that time in the World Cup when I was put up in a place near the railway (could you let it go for the love of God — everyone in the office).


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