Friday 24 May 2019

Colm O'Rourke

Mick Fitzsimons and Paul Geaney battle for the ball last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: 'Don't get too carried away by February's phoney wars' 

The depths to which football has plunged was summed up by the reaction to the Kerry-Dublin game last weekend. Yes, it was good, and both sides went at it hard, but it was talked up into something more than it was. Epic battles only happen when there is a bit more at stake. Maybe it is a natural reaction when there are so few good games. The weekend was balanced by all the other Division 1 matches ranging from poor to rotten (in the case of Galway v Monaghan). So thank God for small mercies.

Conor McManus of Monaghan. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Joyful Monaghan have something special about them 

You didn't have to be Einstein to figure out that Monaghan and Tyrone were going to be involved at the business end of the championship. The backdoor system suits the strong and has been reinforced by the new format this summer. As a result, Tyrone become the first team in history to reach an All-Ireland semi-final after losing two championship matches. Monaghan have lost one - that last-gasp defeat to Fermanagh in the Ulster semi-final.

David Clifford of Kerry leaves the field after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final Group 1 Phase 1 match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Dead rubbers loom and serial losers may progress, nonsensical nature of Super 8 is rearing its head 

The gloss on the Super 8 washed off a bit in the gloom and rain of Croke Park last Sunday and if Kerry and Kildare don’t win today there will be little enthusiasm for their dead rubber meeting in Killarney in a fortnight. Anyway, when it gets to this stage of the championship a defeat should mean the end of the season and if you beat Kerry once in Croke Park you should not have to live...

‘I thought the days of eight-goal games were only going to be seen in old news reels when players wore caps and nailed the cogs into their boots’. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Club players need a civil rights march to Croker 

It is gloomy mid-April and the sky is further darkened by the thousands of chickens coming home to roost. The great Ó Fearghaíl/Duffy initiative of giving April to the clubs is being shown up for what it always was - bluster. This, alongside the Sky deal, the Super 8s and the payout to the GPA is some legacy to leave the ordinary man. Of course, all the other major decision-making bodies of the GAA were complicit in these decisions - the blind leading the blind.

John Horan, who yesterday became the 39th GAA president at the Association’s Annual Congress, pictured outside Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Five issues John Horan needs to tackle head on 

Hail the president. John Horan takes office to loud applause but the music has a habit of stopping quickly for those who attain high office. The problem is that no mortal can satisfy the competing forces that always exist within the GAA so a president has to make his mind up very quickly. Does he want to be a reformer who makes a lasting impression or king of the rubber chicken circuit where he gives the same bland speeches and is satisfied with being president as distinct from doing something as president?

Paraic Duffy in Croke Park

Colm O'Rourke: New GAA chief must row back on ALL changes 

Who gets more criticism every year, the Minister for Health or the GAA's Ard Stiúrthóir? It's a close call but the man at the top in Croke Park probably has to dodge more bullets than those being sent to Angola. For many supporters around the country, the 'top brass' in Dublin can be blamed for almost everything, even if it is not part of their brief. Few will defend the paid officials; it can therefore be a lonely and rather thankless job.

'Lee Keegan does not get any sportsmanship award after throwing his GPS at Dean Rock but I could think of plenty of players who would throw a cement block at Rock if it meant putting him off in the same circumstances.' Photo: Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Exceptional bunch of players doing exceptional things 

There were so many talking points last Sunday, yet after the last whistle it was all chaff in the wind. Within minutes, as always, it was a bit like the Eric Cantona ad, "losers go home". And the trudge home for Mayo supporters was more painful than ever. They resembled the French army in Napoleon's retreat from Russia. A long, slow, silent retreat. Every train, plane, bus and car bore testimony to the vast emptiness of defeat.

Cork manager Peadar Healy speaks to his players after the Munster SFC semi-final against Tipperary. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Cork have ability but lack direction 

Every final in the GAA should be about counties of similar strength and preparation playing each other. A Munster final at the moment does not stand up to that scrutiny. When Cork play Kerry it is usually an unequal struggle. Kerry win most of the time. There have been occasions when Cork could assemble a force to drive up to Killarney and beat up the Kerrymen, steal some of their women and scatter their cattle before making off across the border with wine, women and song.

Dublin need players like Brian Fenton to return to last season’s form and drive the team on. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Different priorities will shape how result is seen 

Dublin are in some type of decline - that is the general view after the League final defeat to Kerry and the not-so-impressive win over Carlow. It is not something I agree with. I am more in the Mark Twain mould and feel that rumours about their demise are greatly exaggerated. Dublin are merely in sleep mode and will be ready to strike from today on. This year is entirely based around the championship and I certainly expect that they will be involved in September.

Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin is shown a black card by referee Paddy Neilan during last week's defeat to Kerry

Colm O'Rourke: Diarmuid Connolly has made a bed for himself, now he’ll have to lie in it all summer 

THE king is dead, long live the king. When I wrote just three weeks that Dublin were sailing close to the wind in games and that some day the comeback would fall just short, I certainly did not think it would happen so quickly. What began in Tralee was finished in Dublin. Victory for Kerry brought an end to Dublin’s unbeaten record, and it puts a slightly different complexion on the rest of the year.