Championship hopes are bunched without a second banana

Kerry's James O'Donoghue walks out to receive his Footballer of the Year award at the 2014 GAA GPA All-Star Awards. Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Behind every star turn, there’s the no. 1 number two — the best sidekick, supporting act, partner in crime — except in the Kingdom, of course, writes Larry Ryan

Serenity now! We rarely have to look far for signs that it’s Kerry’s to lose again.

This year, we knew in February, the moment George Costanza was voted top Second Banana in a Grantland.com poll, beating Canada in the final, having just squeezed past Scottie Pippen in the semis. The writing was on the wall once he routed Art Garfunkel in round 2.

Of course we already knew in our hearts that George was the top Second Banana. After all, most of what we regard as modern conventional wisdom originated with George.

But this important competition drove home the message that you’re only as good as your Second Banana. That, in many ways, your hero — your lead, your big cheese, your superstar, your marquee forward — is just a peg to hang the enterprise on.

But you will stand and fall on your Second Banana, your sidekick, your consigliere, your buddy, the lad who’ll give you a regular three points from play, who also happens to be a good man to get a goal.

Maybe the only true exception to this rule is Ted, who had a fine Second Banana in Dougal, but who could probably have pulled off the tricky Lone Banana role, if he had to.

But there could have been no Seinfeld without George, just as Top Gun, for instance, could never have got off the ground without Goose. There’s no telling what Destiny’s Child’s destiny might have been without Kelly Rowland. Just as the Irish one was the crucial Second Banana in Bananarama.

Not that the Grantland poll, run on a knockout basis with no backdoor system, was without its controversies. Rowland was the victim of a giant-killing in the last 32, upset by Garth Algar.

Goose was unlucky to draw a potential banana skin in Apollo Creed, with defeat suggesting his further experience as Second Banana to Doug Ross in ER wasn’t taken into account.

The great Steve Sanders was another early casualty, shocked by Ron Weasley. Though had Sanders progressed, it is certain his eligibility would have come into question, given his official Third Banana status behind Brandon Walsh and Dylan McKay. The Luis Suarez of his time. But we should come back to Kerry, who proceed into this championship in the unique position of having the footballer of the year, King James, operate in a Second Banana role to the returning Top Top Top Banana.

There is nothing like it in the hurling. You could argue Waterford have lost their Second Banana, Clare’s harvest of potential Second Bananas grows shorter with every injury or travel bulletin. Elsewhere, lads like Bubbles, TJ Reid, Conor Lehane may not be comfortable enough yet in their Second Banana skins.

But Kerry have the standout Second Banana in football. Admittedly, the player of the year is not always the main man, the year after; when the top prize is awarded, for instance, to lesser mortals like defenders or midfielders or even wing forwards, usually for their gallant efforts putting in a shift, or whatever.

But this is an entirely different situation. This is a banana relegation, for which there is very little precedent. It is different to what Kilkenny experienced last year, when Richie Hogan was eased into his Top Banana role with cameos from the Ceremonial Top Banana.

In other jurisdictions, you would suspect a switcharoo of this order might bring psychological baggage. Maybe we will see something like that when the promised Superman v Batman movie is finally released, when the presence of two top dogs is expected to generate a little creative tension.

But in Kerry there are too many Top Bananas on the sideline, or in the stand or in the TV gantry or down the town jingling their four or five All-Ireland medals, for any of the current crop to go too bananas.

Top billing will have to be earned all over again. You suspect the rest are bunched.

FIND MORE CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 NEWS HERE


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