Thursday 8 December 2016

Sinead Kissane: We're losing the run of ourselves with our one-dimensional attitude to winning/losing in the GAA

Published 07/08/2015 | 02:30

Tomas Corrigan celebrates after scoring against Dublin in Croke Park.
Tomas Corrigan celebrates after scoring against Dublin in Croke Park.
Fermanagh's Tomas Corrigan has been criticised for not being upset enough by the defeat to Dublin SPORTSFILE

That was disappointing from Fermanagh forward Tomás Corrigan on the bus home from Croke Park last Sunday, wasn't it? It was only a few hours after the team suffered an eight-point defeat in the quarter-final to one of the best teams in the Championship. And what did Corrigan do? Well, he had a great laugh singing Christy Moore's 'Lisdoonvarna' in front of his team-mates at the top of the bus.

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What a let-down.

A piece of advice Tomás. Next time your team is knocked out of the Championship after an impressive run and you decide to sing 'Lisdoonvarna', you may want to conduct yourself differently.

I'm obviously not an expert but, um, maybe you should be a bit more intense when you're singing the verse? Do it with a bit more feeling. And maybe you should try closing your eyes as well for maximum effect, the way Christy does. But in fairness, the way you banged out the chorus was pretty good.

What's that? Not everyone was happy about Corrigan being happy?

Oh no. What was a young player doing enjoying himself with his team-mates after suffering an eight-point defeat to one of the best teams in the Championship, some folk quizzed. How dare they have a sing-song on the bus. Where was the torture and the hatred of losing?

Dublin’s Alan Brogan (left) puts pressure on Fermanagh’s James McMahon in last Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-final.
Dublin’s Alan Brogan (left) puts pressure on Fermanagh’s James McMahon in last Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-final.

The players should have been weeping bitterly into their county jerseys and giving each other the silent treatment. Or, at the very least, they should have been following the prerequisite post-defeat protocol memo of bitching and moaning about team-mates behind their backs and conspiring against the manager.

And where was the damning email from the county board blaming everyone else about the defeat? There was no statement about the referee, or about the weather or about the extra wind created by all the fans breathing.

No, the Fermanagh team clearly did not get the memo.

Thank God.

We're losing the run of ourselves with our one-dimensional attitude to winning/losing in the GAA. We're losing the run of ourselves when a player like Corrigan, his team-mates and their supporters are questioned about the way they conduct themselves after losing an All-Ireland quarter-final when few would have predicted them making the last eight.

What if Fermanagh weren't celebrating losing to Dublin but rather celebrating having one of their best Championships in years? Is that so wrong?

In his column for the 'Irish News', Paddy Heaney seemed to throw a dig at Fermanagh for not hating losing as much as they should. "There were no tears in the Fermanagh changing room on Sunday. Far from it. At the final whistle, the players stayed on the pitch and applauded their supporters. The fans were jubilant. The players sang on the bus on the way home. Text messages received from Fermanagh friends confirmed that everyone had a wonderful time," Heaney wrote.

Gosh, what a terrible picture he paints.

Diarmuid Connolly scored two superb points during Dublin's victory against Fermanagh
Diarmuid Connolly scored two superb points during Dublin's victory against Fermanagh

We're losing the run of ourselves when we fail to distinguish between a team performing better than expectations and the cold hard line that defeat should always equate to tears and torture.

What if they reached their potential this season by reaching a quarter-final? Sure expectations should be bigger next season. But Corrigan's team-mate Seán Quigley said they went to Croke Park last Sunday with a game plan to win. I'm not getting into the wider argument of the failings of the Championship structure here. This is about why a county is getting unnecessary grief for not being seen to grieve enough after a defeat.

Roy Keane has a lot to answer for. "I wonder what Roy would say?" is the natural go-to line any time there's a perception that a sports person is accepting mediocrity of some sort. We have never looked at training pitches the same way thanks to Roy. Or celebrating a draw. Or prawn sandwiches. Or moral victories.

The likes of Roy, Ronan O'Gara and Tony McCoy set the standard when they spoke about how they dealt with success and failure during their careers. How they remembered failure easier than success. How losing tortured them.

But should players really be almost subpoenaed for mediocrity if they don't display that same uber-intense feeling about defeat?

Judgements

It can't be one rule for everyone. "Moral victories" have long become dirty words in Irish sport. But does that mean we have the right to make moral judgements on how a player or a team really wants success by how they conduct themselves in defeat? This is not about selling out on being the best sports person you can be.

Space has to be made for players who as well as training hard want to enjoy playing. Playing inter-county is such a rat-race now that it's almost a sin to be seen enjoying yourself even when you've performed close to your potential. Enjoying playing and being an inter-county player shouldn't have to be mutually exclusive.

What wasn't to like about the way Corrigan celebrated his goal against Dublin even though Fermanagh were minutes away from the full-time whistle and defeat? How good it was to see him soak up the shock from the Dubs fans on the Hill? After, Corrigan tweeted: "As for ppl asking why I celebrated when I scored the goal, it was an automatic reaction. I only regret not blowing kisses."

Chance it the next time Tomás. I'm just glad that on the bus home you didn't sing Christy Moore's 'Black Is The Colour'. Because that really would have killed the celebratory mood.

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