Our writers analyse the weekend’s GAA talking points...
Tipp suffering in silence
As if the indignity of that Tipperary performance in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday wasn’t enough, Tipperary manager Michael Ryan chose to put the cherry on the cake when he declined to front up after this latest defeat for his side. Ryan is an All-Ireland winning manager, selector and player, a man of character and substance, so it was strange that he should take such a stand. This was a rash decision, clearly made in the heat of the moment, and yet a chance to change his mind was turned down. Ahead of facing Cork, what fans wanted was some leadership, a rallying call to get behind the team in their hour of need. Instead, there was only silence.
A Tyrone 15 without a Celtic Cross
Few remarks were made when Michael McKernan came on in place of Cathal McCarron four minutes into the second-half of yesterday’s Ulster football quarter-final between Tyrone and Monaghan at Healy Park in Omagh.
The game was moving so fast that there was little time to digest every little ingredient but the substitution was, well, historic given Colm Cavanagh had already succumbed to injury during the half-time interval.
McCarron and Cavanagh are the two last remaining links between this generation and the sides that claimed three All-Ireland titles in the noughties so this marked the first time since 2003 that Tyrone fielded a 15 without a single Celtic Cross between them.
Not exactly the end of an era. McCarron and Cavanagh are hardly done in the jersey just yet. But proof again that Father Time waits for no man. Or team.
Cody keeping powder dry for stiffer tests?
Did Brian Cody hold Walter Walsh in reserve with crucial Leinster SHC dates against Galway and Wexford in mind?
Kilkenny’s big full-forward impressed against Dublin in Round 1 and was named to start against Offaly yesterday but was withdrawn before throw-in. Cody, to his credit, has never been into naming dummy teams or disseminating misinformation though he was sketchy on Walsh’s injury, describing it as a muscular issue in his leg.
Either way, Walsh should benefit from the week off with two huge games coming up.
The 21 wides Kilkenny blasted at Nowlan Park highlighted just how much they’re going to need him for those tests. Cody will also hope for a spike in form from TJ Reid who was generally well held by Dublin and failed to spark against Offaly. On a more positive note, Martin Keoghan, John Donnelly and Luke Scanlon showed their potential up front with strong displays.
What happened to Orchard’s Spartan approach?
It is 22 years since Armagh selected a Championship panel that did not include a single Crossmaglen Rangers man. That came about because of an injury to corner-back Paul Hughes, but still you imagine that the county team could have been doing with the likes of Rian and Oisín O’Neill, James Morgan, and even the New York domiciled Jamie Clarke.
Fifteen to twenty years ago, what made Armagh great under Kieran McGeeney’s captaincy was their Spartan approach. They went to a pre-Championship training camp but stayed in local digs, some sleeping on camp beds. They went to the salubrious Brown’s Complex in Vilamoura at the end of April to prepare for this game, while Fermanagh stayed at the local Lough Erne Golf Resort, and trained in Brewster Park, examining the dimensions of the pitch and fine-tuning their gameplan. You have to ask yourself, which county made the most of their resources? One final line, added value and all that; Fermanagh had five sets of brothers in their panel.
Lee lashes out
Limerick hurling may be on a high but sadly the same feelgood factor isn’t shared by the football fraternity in the county.
Manager Billy Lee didn’t hide his displeasure after Saturday night’s defeat to Clare, revealing that an administrative error left him to consider forfeiting the game before throw-in. And it wasn’t an isolated incident according to Lee: “During the week, we came here to training and brought fellas down from Dublin, Cork and Galway and there was no food provided for the players. Someone f**ked up.”
The Limerick County Board put their side of the story last night (See Page 13). But Lee should be applauded not castigated for his outburst. He lost 18 of last season’s panel over the winter months and another 53 men turned him down when offered trials. Most other managers would have taken the easy option and handed in their notice in such circumstances but Lee is convinced that things can be turned around. Hopefully the board can now be convinced to share his vision.
Split-screen the future?
Is there anything to be said for having these round-robin games on at the same time?
Don’t all shout at once. I’m aware of the TV broadcasting rights, why I wrote a whole book (don’t all shout at once is right - Ed). Anyway, while it was interesting to hear the result from Limerick-Tipperary yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh ahead of Cork and Clare, is the GAA missing a trick by not having the games on simultaneously? The distances between the venues mean that it’s not a resourcing issue, and as for those TV people, couldn’t they arrange one game to be broadcast live with coverage of the other match featuring in an in-screen box? The technology for that exists, am I right?
The possibilities are endless, particularly if scoring difference becomes significant towards the end of this series of games. True, it might tax the WiFi capabilities of venues to the limit as counties try to keep tabs on how opponents are doing, but those are relatively small matters.
It will happen for the final round of games of course; so how will the broadcasters handle ‘Elimination Sunday’.
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