O'Connor rant about media way off mark
IN the end, it all proved too much for Kerry. Retirements, suspensions, plus the lure of Australian Rules Football intervened in three double blows to rob them of six of last year's All-Ireland winning side.
Forced changes in every department except the full-back line ultimately frustrated their ambitions. Replacing Diarmuid Murphy, Darragh O Se (both retired) plus Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh (both in Australia) was always going to stretch Kerry, but those were circumstances over which they had no control.
It was different with Paul Galvin and Tomas O Se, both of whom were suspended. It must have been the ultimate in frustration for Kerry to watch Down snapping on to so much breaking ball while two of the best foragers in the game were unable to contribute due to suspension.
There would be a fair degree of sympathy for Tomas O Se, who has had an excellent disciplinary record throughout his long career, much less so for Galvin whose spats with authority have been more frequent. Kerry have argued that the authorities have been harder on Galvin than on some others, highlighting his latest suspension as an example.
Kerry don't condone the incident (a clash with Cork's Eoin Cadogan in the Munster semi-final replay), which drew the latest outbreak of disciplinary wrath down on Galvin, but they do contend that players from other counties escaped censure for misdemeanours which should have merited action.
They have a case and, presumably, will raise that issue with the Croke Park authorities. It doesn't mean that Galvin and Tomas O Se should not have been suspended, but it does highlight the need for greater consistency in the disciplinary procedures.
When Kerry review the season they will identify a combination of retirements, departures to Australia and suspensions, plus a drop in form among some players who performed strongly last year, as the reason why their championship run ended early.
That's much more straight-forward than the manner in which Kerry lost their place in the public affections. Through the decades, Kerry have always been highly-regarded as a county which did things with style. Modest in victory, gracious in defeat, they wore the mantle of top football state with dignity.
That hasn't been the case for the past few seasons and, in particular, this year. Somewhere along the line, paranoia and scepticism nudged its way aboard. Nowhere was that more pronounced than in their dealings with the media. Less than 24 hours before their clash with Down, Jack O'Connor was complaining on TV3 that the media wanted to see Kerry beaten.
"When you're on the road as long as we are, a lot of people want to see the back of you for the simple reason that they want a new story. I mean what can be new about Kerry that hasn't been written? Some people are just waiting for our demise," he said.
For a man who went into the print business himself with his autobiography in 2007, it shows a lack of understanding of how the media works. Jack seems to think that because Kerry have been going well for so long, the media -- as some sort of concerted unit -- want them gone and replaced by a new story.
Contrast that with the great Kerry team of 1975-86, which broke all sorts of records. Did the media want them off the scene? Absolutely not. Mick O'Dwyer and virtually his entire squad remained open, available and engaging. In fact, they seemed to enjoy interacting with the media as much as the media liked dealing with them.
The idea that the media would decide collectively that they wanted Kerry beaten isn't even a distant cousin of reality. The media reflects what happens and if Kerry have had disciplinary issues, -- which may well have cost them All-Ireland titles in 2008 and this year -- it would make more sense for them to analyse that rather than climb into a bunker and allege that they are victims of a conspiracy.
The truth is that most people -- media and otherwise -- have enough to contend with in their own lives without waking up every day wondering how they can get at Kerry. It was never like that and, despite what some in Kerry may think, it's not like that now either.