Dubs warm to the task
Published 09/06/2008 | 00:00
The ruthless efficiency with which Dublin disposed of Louth yesterday should not be regarded as just another 'shoe-in' by one of the big teams against Division 3 sides. There was a sharp cut about the Dublin players, once the second half started, that indicated a change of attitude by comparison with many other championship games in recent years.
I detected what appeared to be a new level of maturity that was noticeable through the measured and confident approach by the Dublin players. Now people will say, of course, that it wasn't very hard for Dublin to play like that considering how poor Louth became after half-time but nevertheless this was a different Dublin side in certain aspects.
For a start, there was none of the physical and verbal provocation which tainted the Dublin team on occasion last year. The demeanour of the Dublin players was exemplary, which it should always be, of course, and this could be a useful addition to the team if that trend continues.
Maybe all the hassle about sendings-off, suspensions, head-butts, appeals and the rest has brought about a new appreciation of how damaging that sort of thing can be, when you are using every last ounce of effort and concentration to win an All-Ireland title.
In football terms, there is little to be learned about the Dublin performance yesterday, except that Jason Sherlock is likely to end up as the most valuable player, and that Shane Ryan could well turn out to be the No 1 midfielder.
These two players ran the show in Croke Park, as regards possession and good use of same, while Alan Brogan was the main beneficiary of the pair's joint brilliance.
It was altogether too much for Louth once Dublin opened the throttle in the second half and a second period of 1-15 proved that decisively. If there was any blot on the Dublin landscape, it relates to their backline which, despite relatively weak opposition, never really set the world on fire. It looks as if the critical section of the Dublin team this year may well be defence but we will have to await sterner tests before that is indicated.
Also of interest is whether the suspended Bernard Brogan, Ciaran Whelan and Co will be immediately restored to the team. If that happens, it could mean that not a single newcomer will be playing for Dublin in the championship, compared to the last two years, and Peadar Andrews and Eamonn Fennell could lose out.
That would be harsh justice, in particular, for Fennell who had served his apprenticeship the hard way in O'Byrne Cup and National League games. I will be surprised if the Dublin brains trust does not consider recycling Shane Ryan in defence.
Eamon McEneaney will be very disappointed with Louth's display after the break. They went from being all-action, out-and-out triers to falling back into the old inferiority complex which is the scourge of weaker counties in Croke Park, particularly against Dublin.
Granted Wexford and Wicklow got over that issue against Meath and Kildare recently, but that is the exception more than the rule.
McCarthy ousting bodes badly for GAA democracy
The manner in which Justin McCarthy was expelled by a faction of Waterford hurlers last week was disgusting.
And before the REAL hurlers criticise me as "only a football fella, sure what would he know about hurling?", I know enough about the game to understand that what the Waterford players did to their former boss last week has caused revulsion with many GAA people all over the country.
This Corkman has lived all his life for hurling with his own club and county and latterly with Waterford. He spread the coaching gospel in hurling, along with the great Fr Tommy Maher of Kilkenny, when it had hardly ever been heard in places as far away as Antrim.
Just remember where Waterford came from prior to McCarthy's arrival on the scene seven years ago. They won the Munster title in 1963 and they had to wait 39 years to win it again under the stewardship of Justin McCarthy in 2002 and in that 39 years they only reached FIVE Munster finals, many with horrendous beatings in excess of 20 points. In McCarthy's time Waterford have won three Munster titles and a National League.
It is accepted that it was McCarthy who changed the whole hurling climate in Waterford and not alone changed the players into winners, but also coached them to some of the most spectacular hurling displays of this century has even seen.
This is the man whom some of the Waterford players decided to knife in the back without even having the courage or decency to confront him man-to-man.
I do not know the ins and outs of Waterford hurling or its politics but I do know what GAA people believe to be basic levels of decency, respect and discipline.
These are actually the main factors in players going on to win All-Ireland titles and it's clear to see that the Waterford players are not capable or grasping that. Maybe the moral of that message is lost on some Waterford hurlers but hopefully not on their genuine supporters.
The players have directly challenged the authority of the GAA because it seems they took a decision, ON THEIR OWN, to get rid of their manager.
Is this going to be the norm from here on in with rebellious players deciding on a whim to sack the manager after a defeat? Is this what County Boards are prepared to accept nowadays? If so then we have a state of anarchy in the GAA.
There is plenty of scope in the GAA for the players, manager and also the County Board to meet, discuss and arrive at decisions on any matter concerning the running of team.
They call it democracy but it did not feature in Waterford last week. These are ominous signs for the power of county players in the GAA structure.