Tuesday 25 April 2017

From the stands: Truth can really be stranger than fiction

Alex Ferguson's remarks that "football is the only industry where you can't tell the truth" in reaction to his touchline ban will come as no surprise. The simple sword of truth hasn't often been part of his weaponry. At a press conference in 2005, he told journalists "there was nothing to report" on Roy Keane's future. An hour later, a press release was handed round announcing Keane had left.

Last weekend, Ferguson said Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher had "no chance" of playing against Marseille. Carrick, of course, was in the team as was Nani who faced an unknown period on the sidelines. Ferguson told the press last week that Jamie Carragher's tackle had forced the player out until April.

"It is difficult to say exactly when he will be ready to return but we won't get him back for the Bolton match next Saturday." Nani was in fact fit four days earlier.

What would Fergie's friend Alastair Campbell have made of his claim that football is the only industry where you can't tell the truth?

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Croke Park is heralded time and again as a world-class stadium, but one area where it repeatedly falls well short of that label is its stadium announcing. The club finals offered another example of poor standards that don't reflect well on the venue.

The 'all stewards to end-of-match positions' has of course become a familiar refrain on match day, but should just be done away with. Other stadiums manage to get the message across without booming it across the tannoy and creating panic for the players. On Thursday, the announcement with 54 minutes played in the football final came just as Frankie Dolan from St Brigid's was on his run up to a (scorable) free with his side three points down. Frankie missed -- there can be no doubt he heard the call for stewards to get to their end-of-match positions, adding even more pressure to what was already a pressure kick.

In contrast, the announcement of the injury time to be played -- something of value to players -- was delivered at a barely audible level.

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As if golf wasn't difficult enough already, it seems you now have to be a technophile to make sure you're not open to disqualification.

The GUI has issued a clarification to clubs that distance measuring devices can only be used in competition where the local rule allows and where the device cannot be used to measure 'other conditions that might affect play (eg, wind speed, gradient, temperature, etc)'.

The problem for a lot of players is that they use their smart phones, loaded with a course map application, to measure distances to hazards and the front/back of the green etc. These applications, at around €25, are considerably cheaper than a specific distance measuring device which can set you back in the region of €300 plus another charge to download individual course maps.

All smart phones have the capability of providing other information (even, it seems, the capability of being able to ring your mate for advice) and are therefore in breach of rule. Having such applications disabled makes no difference, once the device has the capability.

Oh for the happy days when the old maxim 'find it, hit it, find it again' applied. Golf was a simpler game then and didn't take nearly as long.

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It's been 12 years since a Leinster team won an All-Ireland football title but after last weekend's round of National League games, the prospects of Sam Maguire residing in Leinster this year look at lot more favourable. When the action finished last Sunday evening, Leinster teams were top of all four divisions. Dublin and Laois claimed top spots in Divisions 1 and 2, with Wexford and Longford top in Divisions 3 and 4.

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As a twitter blackout for Ireland's rugby players looms, Brian O'Driscoll's followers will not be worried about withdrawal symptoms. For the last few days Ireland's captain went into tweet overdrive. He answered every question from his army of followers. We now know his favourite cartoon, golf course, biscuit, subject, meal, moment, comedian . . . the list is endless. Being a constant provider of useless information used to be considered a bad thing.

Dion Fanning, Marie Crowe

and Fergus McDonnell

ssport@independent.ie

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