Friday 21 October 2016

Eugene McGee: People who run the GAA need to examine their consciences after results like these

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

31 May 2015; Aidan Rowan, Longford, following his side's defeat. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Dublin v Longford. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
31 May 2015; Aidan Rowan, Longford, following his side's defeat. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Dublin v Longford. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

There was no Senior Football Championship game played in Croke Park yesterday.

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Instead we got the sort of game that in years gone by would have been played on a Sunday evening to raise finds for a church renovation fund, where the match itself was irrelevant once the money on the gate had been collected.

Yesterday, the Leinster Council also collected their money.

But we have often been told that given the costs associated with big games at Croke Park, the break-even attendance for staging matches at the ground is around 30,000, and the attendance yesterday was a bit over 33,000, so takings will hardly be worth a lot to the provincial council.

The game yesterday will cost a lot more in terms of the damage such mismatches do to the image of Leinster football.

It was a humiliating experience for Longford football. Some GAA people in the county will chastise me for writing this but any thinking person in the county and anyone who plays football in county Longford knows this is the truth.


This is no fault of the young men who play the game in Longford - they did their very best yesterday against ridiculous odds, and fair minded people in the county will not blame any player.

Quite simply the odds are just stacked too high against counties like Longford which has the second smallest population in Ireland after Leitrim.

Large populations in counties like Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Cork, Donegal, Meath or Kildare have everything going for them because more bodies means more potential county footballers.

Also, large populations attract more sponsorship and therefore more money available to promote the game.

In recent years, as the money poured into those counties the gap between them and the weaker counties has got wider and wider, although the failure of Meath and Kildare to match the others is the exception.

The other big factor in yesterday's game was the absence for the first time in 15 years of the iconic Paul Barden, who retired last year.

Without such a great player, and also goalkeeper Damien Sheridan, a weak county like Longford is left bereft of inspiration and leadership, and Dublin ruthlessly exploited that.

For Jim Gavin, this was not even a serious A v B training session and he learned very little from the game.

Ciaran Kilkenny furthered his chances of being the starting centre-forward this year and Dean Rock improved his hopes of being a first 15 player.

As a team it looked at times as if Dublin were going to introduce more wing play through long, well-directed kick-passes but it was so easy to do that yesterday that further proof will be necessary.

This game was devoid of physical contact, apart from a few accidental collisions.

Some will wonder why Longford did not play a packed defence and try to keep the scoreline down but that is nonsense.

Longford do not have enough players good enough or fit enough to play that game; if they had played 13 men in defence, their meagre scoring tally of 0-10 yesterday would have been even less. The strength of panels is what really crucifies weaker, smaller counties and this was brutally exposed when we read the names of the subs used by Dublin: Alan Brogan, Paddy Andrews and Michael Daragh Macauley.

We have to go back to 1960 in Mullingar for a football massacre like this involving Longford and Dublin, when the Dubs scored 10-13 to Longford's 3-8 on a day when Johnny Joyce scored 5-3 .

This means yesterday's result was, by one point, even worse than that.


Longford football will recover from yesterday, they always do. But people who run the GAA at provincial level in Leinster and Munster really should examine their consciences about results like this one and the defeat of Waterford by over 20 points as well.

How long more before GAA administrators bite the bullet and stop this ridiculous carry-on?

We can't continue the ludicrous concept in the GAA that every county has a chance of winning the Sam Maguire Cup or even a provincial championship.

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