Friday 9 December 2016

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Published 11/09/2011 | 05:00

Under 21s deserve day in Croke Park

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The opening up of Croke Park by the GAA to soccer and rugby in 2007 was universally hailed as a positive step in helping to bring together the different traditions on this island. It was a magnanimous gesture to the FAI and IRFU while Lansdowne Road was being re-developed. By this gesture, the GAA projected a progressive image of the Association which had been portrayed as narrow and insular.

What a pity this ecumenism did not extend to the Dublin and Galway under 21 All-Ireland hurling finalists. It matters not whether it's at senior, minor or under 21 level, every All-Ireland final should be held at Croker. We should not lose sight of the fact that many of these players' families wash the jerseys, make the tea and sandwiches and mark the pitches, exclusively on the premise of volunteer participation. They also would like to see their sons play at GAA Headquarters.

To reach an All-Ireland final is the pinnacle of a player's career. It is a sporting achievement few attain and should be acknowledged appropriately by the GAA. How perverse it must be for those Galway and Dublin players scheduled to play the under 21 hurling final at Semple Stadium to know that Bon Jovi and Neil Diamond played Croke Park and they didn't. Rarely do players get a second bite of the All-Ireland cherry.

It is not unreasonable for those counties who have secured a place in an All-Ireland final to expect to play the decider in the spectacular surroundings of Croke Park. These players have placed community and society above selfish demands, they are the body, soul and lifeblood of the GAA and are deserving of appropriate recognition.

It should not be the players having the honour of playing at Croke Park but Croke Park having the honour of hosting these players.

Tom Cooper

Sold a dummy by Trap's dire tactics

In boarding school, I listened under the blanket, transistor wedged to ear, as Ireland played Spain for a World Cup place back in the mid-1960s. Phil Green's voice drifted in and out as the great names MacAvoy, Dunne, Cantwell, Hurley, Meagan did battle.

I attended the great victory over the mighty USSR on a grey autumn day in 1974 as Dalymount heaved with 40,000 plus souls. Even the underachieving team of Eoin Hand merited following. We all know about Jack Charlton and how he 'discovered' soccer for the nation. So how come I now watch Ireland play via teletext?

Breaking a long-held vow, I watched them v Russia on Tuesday night. I never saw a poorer Ireland side . . . ever. Russia's squander-mania prevented them from winning by at least six clear goals. I should have stayed with the teletext.

Better men than me will tell you whether we witnessed a tactical genius called Giovanni Trapattoni in action or a dire side hanging on by the seat of their pants. One thing is for sure, had any man with Irish blood in him managed that outfit last week, the scribes would have been calling for his head. And correctly so.

My eyes don't deceive. I saw poor football played by poor footballers. Not one, not a single one of them, now plies his trade with the top six sides in England. I witnessed last-ditch defending akin to what one would see up in the Phoenix Park on a weekend. For all RTE's and Sky's pyrotechnics crap is crap no matter how well it's parcelled.

I don't have solutions and I am too old to care anymore but I am not at the age where I can be sold a dummy and convinced that we as a soccer nation are on the road to somewhere useful.

Trapattoni and his stone-age tactics may keep his pension pot simmering but I for one would rather watch the manly, professional and absorbing contest as exhibited by the menfolk of Kilkenny and Tipperary in this year's All-Ireland hurling final.

No bull, no bluster, no shapes, no dives. Even the referee spilled blood. Honest, entertaining and seat-edged sporting warfare played by real men in real time for a real prize. Perhaps some day soccer will be returned to the people and its separation from pop, glitz, celebrity, fame, agents, pimps and spivs will be complete. It never deserved to be thieved like it was.

John Cuffe

Pitiful Irish fly on wing and a prayer

Anyone who suffered the indignity of watching our recent soccer match against Russia will definitely agree that we need to improve vastly if we are going to stand any chance of qualification.

However, if we do manage to reach the European Championships next year, it will only be because of luck, the grace of God, prayers or voodoo.

As it certainly won't be because of our prowess on the football field, that's for sure.

Vincent O'Connell

Sunday Indo Sport

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