Pre-season silverware can be a springboard to greater glories
Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30
Kevin Moran once credited Ireland winning a friendly tournament in Iceland in 1986 as the catalyst for the unprecedented run of success that would follow under Jack Charlton.
"It'd be no big shakes, but it was the first thing we ever won", Moran remembered.
I couldn't help but think it was no bad thing for the Clare hurlers, or the Galway and Meath footballers, to win their respective pre-season competitions last weekend, even if they are the very definition of "no big shakes".
In a packed GAA schedule that allows all too little time for the club or college game, and where burnout is such a major issue, the very existence of these pre-season tournaments annoys me no end.
Every January, before the New Year's resolutions are even out the window, I get caught unawares watching the Sunday evening news where they report a cracker as Kildare overcome DCU or shocking scenes in Ulster as the Dr McKenna Cup descends into a battle royale.
They don't serve enough of a purpose to take up a month in the calendar and should be abolished.
That said, you take every motivation you can get in the game, and lifting silverware last week could do no harm to Clare, Galway and Meath given the way the last few years have gone for them.
Clare, in particular, have had nothing but bad news since winning the All-Ireland in 2013. But there's an optimism around in 2016. Donal Og Cusack has come on board. Podge Collins is back (or will be eventually) and now Paul Kinnerk, the coach so instrumental in the 2013 success, is also back in the fold.
Credit where it's due for Davy Fitzgerald. I've been critical of him in the past for constantly crying foul and for taking the attention off the team. But in recent months, he has been incredibly low-key. This has to be a good thing for Clare hurling.
The feelgood factor continued on Saturday night, winning the inaugural Munster League by beating Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds.
The tournaments at this time of year don't matter. But if you need a boost of confidence, winning it can lift you for the year ahead.