THE football managerial merry-go-round is off and running again.
New managers for Dublin, Meath, Armagh and others and we have two Kerry men working outside the county.
The great man himself, Mick O'Dwyer, heads to Clare this time to wield his magic and no doubt Clare will benefit from his years of experience if the football fraternity in Clare buy into whatever programme he puts in place. One thing is for sure: it won't be too complicated. The main ingredient will be commitment to improving Clare football. If he gets the footballers of Clare to bring their full complement of players they will improve their standing in the world of Gaelic Football in the Banner county.
Then we have John Evans heading to Roscommon. It's been a while since the men from the west made a charge towards Croke Park, but if emigration hasn't robbed the county of some very good minors and under-21s of the last few years, Evans could have a decent enough squad to work with. Roscommon club teams have done well in the All-Ireland Club competition so Evans could have a bit of raw material to work with.
Contrast these two men to some of the other managers working in the world of Gaelic Football. There are some very interesting and highly rated fellows working in the game. Jason Ryan, Kieran McGeeney and Paddy Tally have big reputations and have the qualifications to back up their views and ideas and methods as to how the game of Gaelic Football should be approached. Then, of course, we have the newly appointed Cian O'Neill who will oversee the fitness of the Kerry team this year.
A lot of these guys have now come under the spotlight with the link-up with Glasgow Celtic and Jim McGuinness, the man who worked the oracle for Donegal this year. This was a huge achievement for the man, of that there can be no doubt. Having said that one thing people should not forget is that if you don't have the raw material you can have all the qualifications and certificates you like and it still won't guarantee success.
I think a fair comparison would be the forwards available to Kieran McGeeney and Kildare and to Jim McGuinness in Donegal. If Kildare had a few forwards they might have pulled off an All-Ireland. I mean it. McGeeney had them fit! Now equate that to the fact that when O'Dwyer was in Kildare they contested an All-Ireland Final when they lost to Galway. So my point being: qualifications are one thing, but material to work with is another.
Of course, it is worth noting that the Donegal manager is not the first manager of Gaelic teams to dabble in other codes. Jim, o f course, worked with soccer teams before: Finn Harps, Derry City and Limavady in former years. Working with London Wasps was former Armagh coach John McCloskey, while our own Kerry Minor manager, Mickey Ned O'Sullivan, did a few sessions with the famed Springbox team of South Africa.
Mickey spent some time with the team on the timing of jumping and fielding and kicking the oval ball. So it is not unusual to find Gaelic coaches working in different codes of sport. McGuinness, whom we remember playing for Tralee IT where he did Health and Leisure Studies and won Sigerson Cup medals, worked for a while in the north-west at the Regional College in Limavady, he also has a qualification in Sports Psychology at the John Moores University of Liverpool.
I believe that for a period of his managerial time at Donegal the highly qualified sportsman was unemployed. Consider this when we have schools right around the country with no adequate PE programmes. I think it is wonderful that he has now found employment doing what he loves best and it is great to see all these sports grus involved in the game. From a player's point of view they will benefit in lots of ways from the expertise.
The only worry for me is that these guys bring too much of an influence from professional sport to Gaelic games.
One can see that the likes of Rugby League and soccer tactics have crept into the modern Gaelic game and the skills are being lost. A lot of talk at the moment is about Sin Bins and Tapand-Go in Gaelic Football. In my opinion to introduce the Tap-and-Go will be a disaster and will only lead to more hand-passing which, to me, is to the detriment of Gaelic Football.
There should be some restriction to the hand-pass and to kicking the ball backwards towards your own goal. There is no place for cynicism and off the ball shenanigans. So any talk of Yellow Card and Sin Bin situations would want to be well thought out. Again we don't want to hear about a yellow for the team as in other codes. The Tap-andGo, I believe, is a proposal that will allow a player take the free to himself with the freedom to advance five metres.
While I'm not a lover of the free from the hand at the moment, introduced by Tony Hanahoe's Revision Committee back in the nineties when I believe the skill of free-taking and high fielding were effected, I believe that the Tapand0Go will be a disaster, but then the Committee will have to bring something back to be discussed. For me, a curtailment of the hand-pass would improve the game and more foot than hand would also make it easier to referee.