Kevin Walsh: Jim Gavin right to protect his players

Kevin Walsh doesn’t have a Facebook account and you won’t find him on Twitter.
Kevin Walsh: Jim Gavin right to protect his players

He spends enough time talking to players and other coaches,on the phone and in person as it is and the Galway boss has no desire to have a line of thinking permeated or de-stabilised by the babble of opinions available online.

He also sees some pundits bouncing balls and hoping others will bite and bounce them right back. “A game of tennis,” as he calls it, and he has no intention of picking up a racquet.

“It’s something I don’t agree with,” he said yesterday at a briefing ahead of Sunday week’s Connacht final against Roscommon. “It’s trying to almost give them another column, which I don’t like. The real-life proper analysis of journalism is good and nice, and I read that, but it has gone mad, to be honest.

“There was a little incident on the TV the other night in relation to another player but, look it, it’s gone wild. There is almost a judge and jury before anything happens. And even afterwards, without people knowing what you are trying to achieve, it can get a bit tough, too much out there.”

That ‘little incident’ was the latest chapter in the Diarmuid Connolly affair. Instigated, of course, by his Dublin counterpart Jim Gavin who took aim at elements of the broadcast media for the manner in which they dissected the push on linesman Ciarán Brannigan earlier this month.

Gavin’s line of thought was downright odd but Walsh contends the motivation behind it was a manager simply backing his man.

Jim Gavin

Jim Gavin

“Absolutely. He is 100% right to protect his players. There are places for those things to be dealt with, whether it is a yellow card or a black card or whatever. Not trial by television jury. I believe he is right in what he is saying to protect his player.

“It is up to himself to decide what type of stance he takes. I’m not saying that’s the stance I would be taking but, at the same time, he is right to protect his players. It is that game of tennis again. That allows the amateur journalists, if you like, to have another bounce and whack out stuff for another few weeks.”

Context is useful here. It’s four years now since Eamonn O’Hara appeared on the same RTÉ programme after Walsh’s Sligo side lost to London and claimed the Galway man’s management was instrumental in ending his career and that he had also ‘lost’ the players during the year.

Walsh gave an interview to RTÉ the following day. He claimed the allegations to be untrue and that the programme had been “unbalanced” given there was no opportunity for O’Hara’s assertions to be challenged. Pat Spillane could argue much the same this week.

None of which was a road Walsh wanted to revisit again.

Had he the choice, every question asked of him yesterday would have circled around Roscommon and the hunt for a back-to-back provincial title for Galway but sport always creates debates that ripple far beyond the bubble of any one county squad and its business.

Walsh doesn’t go along with the theory those seeking a quieter life could simply offer their services at a lower level. “I don’t because I’m not talking about myself: I’m talking about players. I’m here. I’ll have to take the flak that comes with it. I suppose, even coming into Galway in the first place, changing the style and different things to compete, was tough. It was tough for nine months.

“I’m sure I got plenty of slating for it, because it takes time to develop. But if you go after something you believe in, and you know will work, you do that and you stand by it.

“If it fails, it fails. The players that put their lives on hold need to be given the respect because there’s a person inside the jersey.”

No argument there.

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