Sunday 24 September 2017

Recession cause of poor story

I suppose, as a journalist, I should start beating the press freedom drum and get stuck in to Jack O'Connor for banning his players from talking to The Kerryman because he disagreed with what the paper wrote about his team's forthcoming training camp in Portugal.

But, to be honest with you, I couldn't be bothered. Because the newspaper's assertion that the camp makes a mockery of the county board's expressed concern about the emigration of players due to the economic situation was a pretty lousy stroke. It also makes no sense at all.

According to The Kerryman, the expenditure of €40,000 on the trip can't be justified given the current economic climate. This statement falls into the realm of what you might call 'Recession Bollocks'. It's up there with the claims that we're all to blame for the mess and that somehow the economy went belly-up because electricians bought plasma screen TVs and plasterers took foreign holidays. If the Kerry footballers don't go to Portugal, how will that improve the Irish economy? It's a mystery to me.

Yet county board chairman Jerome Conway has found himself being forced to defend the trip. Conway says the jaunt will actually cost less than €20,000, around 0.5% of the board's total expenditure for the year. But if it did cost €40,000, how would that in any way be an indictment of the board? What is €40,000 in a country where Seán Quinn owes the state more than €3 billion and there is an election campaign going on for the Seanad, where 60 people will earn €65,000 a year and contribute not one iota to the well-being of a country which would prefer to see their glorified talking shop abolished?

Will one single Kerryman be forced to emigrate because of the training camp in Portugal? No. And there is something vaguely stomach-turning about this trip being portrayed as an affront to the unemployed. Top players, and Kerry footballers are surely that, earn millions for the GAA in gate receipts and see not a penny of it. They attract the biggest television audiences of the year for RTE and get nothing for that. Now it seems they're being begrudged even a trip abroad.

And whether it's €20,000 or €40,000, the Kerry public have surely got memories worth many times that sum thanks to Tomás ó Sé, Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy, Declan O'Sullivan and their team-mates. There's no point lecturing those lads about the recession, they've got to cope with it too. And unlike the politicians who've landed us in this mess, none of them will be retiring soon on big pensions.

Presumably every single member of staff in The Kerryman will be holidaying in the Kingdom this year, given the paper's concern about the effect the football trip to Portugal might have on morale in the county. If that's the case, they have every right to lambast the county board.

If not, Jack O'Connor has every right to be cross.

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