Friday 9 December 2016

Seven Wonders for this Weekend in the GAA World

Peter Sweeney

Published 19/06/2015 | 02:30

Pat Spillane compared the cost of Armagh's senior team with the budget of a small third world country
Pat Spillane compared the cost of Armagh's senior team with the budget of a small third world country

Seven things to look out for this weekend.

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1. Aussie Rules stars made to look  foolish in Hanley's girls' names quiz

Mayo's Pearse Hanley hosts a popular weekly online quiz show for his Aussie Rules club Brisbane Lions, it turns out, called Hanley Trivia (check out www.lions.com.au).

This week's instalment is based on his apparently not so bright Aussie team-mates trying to pronounce Irish girls' names. Cue much expected hilarity. One of his playing buddies guessed Grainne as Grant, Louise for Laoise, no-one managed even a guess for Saoirse and the quiz was finally won with a single correct answer when Sinead was pronounced correctly. That said, Pearse could find himself the butt of a few jokes at home in Ballaghaderreen with his hybrid Irish-Australian accent.

2. Gritty launch for camogie, thankfully no talk of short shorts for players

It was good to see the coverage that greeted the urban-themed launch of the All-Ireland camogie championships earlier this week as the game's profile continues to creep upwards, however slowly.

It was good also that no one in officialdom saw fit to offer advice as to how to make the game more popular as one Brazilian soccer chief did.

Marco Aurelio Cunha, head of the co-ordination for women's football in Brazil, said the key to more popularity was for the players to put on make-up, do their hair nice and wear shorter shorts.

Where to they get these guys?

3. Spillane keeps on doing what he does as Wee Man breaks pundit tradition

Pat Spillane loves little more than some good overstatement, but he was really reaching last weekend when he compared the cost of Armagh's senior team, who lost heavily to Donegal, with the budget of a small third world country.

Meanwhile, over on the BBC during the same contest, Martin McHugh did something extremely rare for him, or indeed any pundit - he admitted that he was wrong! He's known as the Wee Man, but on this occasion he was the bigger man.

4. Qualifiers were always complicated, But now they have just got worse

Ever tried to explain the structures of the football provincial and All-Ireland Championships to someone with no background in the GAA? Well, if you haven't, don't. "It's like this; one competition has 12 teams, but another has six. Some teams have to win four games to get to a quarter-final, others only have to win two. And if you lose, you have another chance."

This year the job of explaining things just got more difficult, as the start of the qualifiers this weekend will prove. Now we have groups A and B through the back door. Any idea? No, us neither. God be with the days when Kerry seemed to play Dublin in the All-Ireland final every September; at least then we knew where we stood. . .

5. Mayo flag flies high over army camp in Syria as long hunt for Sam continues

Mayo fans must be among the most committed in the GAA .

In recent years a social media campaign has been mounted to get well-known people holding up Mayo For Sam banners in photographs, and those who took part included Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl, boxing trainer Freddie Roach and Paul O'Connell.

This year the Mayo flag has reached exotic locations, with one Irish army peacekeeper in war-torn Syria proudly flying the green and red above camp (as seen on @mayogaabanter).

6. No three-piece suit for stylish Ó Sé at Eircom sponsorship launch

Eircom are keeping up the noble tradition of GAA sponsors dressing up footballers and hurlers in terrible outfits. Gaudy tracksuits and ill-fitting polo shirts are the usual crimes against fashion. But the telecom provider doubled up this week with outsized white tops, not dissimilar to that '90s Cellnet rugby strip worn by England (hardly a particular favourite in this country), and extremely orange T-shirts.

TV style merchants Tomás Ó Sé, Ciarán Whelan and David Brady, usually seen in fancy tins of fruit on the box analysing football matches, weren't exactly looking their sharpest. Their tailors will have to work overtime to help rebuild their damaged style credibility the next time they're on our television screens.

7. Parkinson standing up for players' rights following Guiney's Wexford axe

Colm Parkinson has always been a players' man and this week on Twitter the former Laois wing-back was full of righteous indignation on the part of Wexford hurler Jack Guiney, who manager Liam Dunne hopped off the panel for an apparent breach of discipline. 'Wooly' compared this to the case of Chile soccer star Arturo Vidal, who will keep his place in the team despite totalling his Ferrari whilst apparently drunk following his team's Copa America draw with Mexico this week. When you compare the two, you'd really have to wonder what Guiney did, or was it an over-reaction from management? Parkinson thinks the latter and, to be honest, it's hard not to disagree with him.

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