Colm O'Rourke: 'It's much too early for judgements - pity nobody told the managers'
While I was taking a couple of weeks off there must have an annual general meeting of the County Managers' Association. That is a joke in case...
While I was taking a couple of weeks off there must have an annual general meeting of the County Managers' Association. That is a joke in case...
It's hard to end the year on a bum note, but necessary all the same.
Mullinalaghta... Mullinalaghta. A week ago most people could not spell or pronounce Mullinalaghta. If a week is a long time in politics then an hour...
So the GPA have thrown the toys out of the pram again. They were not happy that the GAA decided to go ahead with experiments on rule changes.
How has your club progressed in the last ten years? Can you remember? Has it regressed? Where would you like it to be in another ten years? Most, of...
The first consideration when changing any playing rule is to ask the obvious question: Is it idiot-proof? The game of football is played by many who do not know the rules in their present form, never mind the spectators who barely have a rough idea either. They know just enough (or little) to shout abuse at the referee.
It never rains but it pours in Tyrone. Hot on the heels of recent violent scenes in club football, Moy have asked for a further investigation into the Sean Cavanagh affair. It looks like this sleeping dog won't lie.
The reaction from most people to the GAA/GPA (are they not the same body now?) report, undertaken by the ESRI on the amount of time given up by inter-county players, is "so what?".
With everything cleared up on the county front it is going to be a long winter of discontent. I was never in favour of this new fad of a free April for clubs and the All-Ireland over so early. If the pope had not tied up Croke Park it would have all been done and dusted in August.
One of the strange things about some champions is that they become even more popular with success.
In the end sanity prevailed. The GAA hierarchy had impaled themselves on the sharpest hook and had to wriggle off. The outcome is an Irish solution to...
The gloss on the Super 8 washed off a bit in the gloom and rain of Croke Park last Sunday and if...
The battle of Omagh was exactly that. Even if it was relatively low scoring and there was little kicking, it was nonetheless intriguing as both sides tried to force their game on the other.
There was never any danger of Dublin losing last night - and a five-point margin flattered Donegal. There was more atmosphere in a morgue than...
After about ten minutes of the Roscommon-Armagh game RTÉ should have flashed up a warning to young people in particular, "do not adjust your sets". This was because there was a game of...
We have to talk about Dublin and by extension, everywhere else. That causes complications. It elicits a strong response from the normal quarters so it is difficult to make any case without the debate turning into something unintended.
A man can't take a week off without a bit of controversy . . . and I thought nobody cared too much about the All Stars any more.
The hot summer seems to have driven sensible young men to distraction. We had a pitched battle and a pitch battle between Armagh and Tyrone under 20s in June and the disease has spread far and wide.
This time of year is for thinking - new structures, new rules, men with missions. This year the pace of change seems to be gathering momentum. The penny has dropped and people see that the football ship is heading for the rocks. To mix metaphors even more, there is nothing to concentrate the mind like a hanging, and falling crowds means less revenue, less TV money and loss of interest. That is why those in authority are thinking quickly.
It did not take long for managers and players to line up and cast doubts on the new rule proposals for Gaelic football. There wasn't outright condemnation from Malachy O'Rourke, the Monaghan manager, and others. It was more the killing-with-kindness approach.
When the board went up near the end of last Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final announcing eight minutes of injury time, I could not help thinking of the previous week's football semi-final between Monaghan and Tyrone when there were only three minutes played. Of course there were more stoppages in the hurling game, but the discrepancy should not have been so great.
A gallant Monaghan reached the end of the line last weekend, while Galway limped home knowing that the progress they have made is still a mile short of the top. A new departure is needed for them with a different style and some changes in personnel. The good news for Galway is that there is definite potential in both areas.
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.
It was always going to come to this. Tyrone and Donegal playing for a place in the semi-final and players would not be human if they did not think there was a real possibility of getting to the All-Ireland final as Dublin are on the other side of the draw.
The difference in mentality showed in Salthill last night. It was obvious from the start that Monaghan were standing on the trapdoor and they were not going to let Galway pull the lever. They were intent on denying Galway space up front and were very physical in their approach to the Galway ball carriers.
AT the end of the most controversial week of the GAA summer we got the first seismic shock of a championship that was stumbling along predictable lines. And maybe the saga inspired the greatest Kildare performance for a decade. Cian O’Neill had galvanised his county, but the pressure was on to get the players to perform.
If Thursday was the longest day of the year then this afternoon for Fermanagh and Laois is likely to be long, hot and uncomfortable.
Today the Connacht final takes place in Hyde Park in Roscommon. Proper order too. Any town that has been designated to hold a provincial final should host it, even if the crowd has to be slightly restricted. Local business deserves a big day too, as they support the GAA when things are very quiet.
This was no epic but nobody left Pairc Tailteann in Navan before half seven. It was exciting, close, a little short of quality and laced with plenty of controversy. Meath were denied a penalty early on and there were loud calls for a last-minute free which could have meant even more extra-time.
The world is changing. Carlow and Laois meet today in a Leinster semi-final while those who started out with greater aspirations fight through the back door. Of course the big dog looms, but for these counties it has been a spring of content - both promoted from the bottom division and now an even bigger day ahead for one.
Unlike last Sunday, there are three heavyweights in action today - Kerry, Monaghan, and Galway. All are long odds-on to win easily and the prize they are all looking to is the Super 8s. There are plenty of slip-ups still possible and they are not even all racing certainties but respective wins this afternoon puts them within touching distance of when the action really begins.
Galway continued their dominance over Mayo last Sunday, not only beating them but administering a right sickening one too. In the process, they pushed Mayo a step closer to the end and they did it in the most boring fashion as well.
Mayo and Galway meet today in what I can best describe as a proper championship match that could decorate Croke Park in August in a quarter or semi-final. Two teams who have ambitions - the first is to win today but the real bonus is to make the Super 8. Then the real fun begins.
Two teams going in opposite directions in the League meet today in the Ulster Championship - Donegal on the way down from Division 1 and Cavan jumping straight back up from Division 2. Yet the odds don't reflect this. Donegal are hot favourites and deservedly so. Their performances in the League hinted at a return to past glories even though they only got three points.
The tapes are up and the race is on. Maybe you have not noticed but the Connacht Championship starts today without a match in Ireland. Sligo are in McGovern Park in Ruislip to play London, and I emphasise McGovern Park as there are very few families who have contributed as much to the GAA in Dublin, Leitrim and London as this family has. Probably in a few other counties too.
By wiping out inter-county activity in April, the GAA has guaranteed that the sports pages and airwaves have had wall-to-wall coverage of rugby, through Leinster and Munster, and soccer's Champions League.
The great April debate rumbles on. I was surprised by the reaction to my column last Sunday although I shouldn't have been, because most people in the GAA identify and have greater loyalty to their club than county. It may appear different on the big days in Croke Park, but that's my belief. Anyway, the big gripe remains the same no matter where players are from - with a few exceptions.
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.
After surviving two matches in Croke Park last Sunday, I am ready for a re-enactment of Tom Crean's voyage to the Antarctic. Such was the bitter cold that everyone who attended both games should receive a free ticket for some upcoming game or maybe even the Rolling Stones concert - even if Mick Jagger might have trouble putting over a close-in free or getting through a blanket defence.
So it all ends today with two big games in Croke Park. In many ways the Division 2 final between Cavan and Roscommon will attract more interest. The Dubs might want to win the big games but league titles and Dublin are hardly rare currency while Galway's thoughts have already turned to Mayo in six weeks in Castlebar.
Sometimes I feel like a dog howling at the moon when it comes to the GAA. The last couple of weeks have thrown up a lot of issues which would test the patience of Job, a man noted for perseverance in the face of overwhelming hardship. The GAA has many of this type.
A long harsh winter drags into spring. When players wake up for an All-Ireland final they hope for good conditions. Yesterday, there was no kindness in the air and players could have been issued with long johns, woolly hats and gloves to keep out the biting cold. The small crowd deserved better too amid all the counter-attractions but at least they were rewarded with a game of skill which was...
You didn't have to work in the Met Office to predict that the GAA season was playing fast and loose with the weather - and the weather always wins.
Fifty years ago this week, Ireland invaded Australia. It was altogether a friendly move, by a Meath team who had taken up an invitation by an Aussie rules touring side who came to Ireland in October 1967. Meath, as All-Ireland champions, played the Australians in Croke Park before an attendance of 23,000 and that game marks the start of the football relationship between Ireland and Australia.
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?
When it was revealed in Roscommon that it was costing €15,000 per week to run the senior team, it just made everyone aware of the runaway train that county teams have become.
It was a tale of two venues last weekend, Dublin and Roscommon. Croke Park on a Saturday night is always worth a visit. The only thing that is stopping everyone shutting up shop and not bothering going to see the Dubs is the fact that they play such attractive football. Crowds still come to see them and 26,000 on a January night is a fair attendance.
If the ard-stiúrthóir's job is to point out problems in the GAA before riding off into the sunset then Páraic Duffy's final annual report sticks to script. Most people, though, are looking for solutions. Anyone who is vaguely familiar with the organisation knows the problems and is seeking guidance. It is not offered here.
A sporting highlight should be real.
There was a bit of reaction to last week's column in which I detailed the different kinds of managers patrolling the sidelines of our club games, so maybe it's time to look at some more of the characters who power the lights of the GAA. It could become a series, a bit like The Men Who Built America, but it might take Pat Shortt a while to make it up.
The GAA is the most wonderful way to study a vast range of human behaviours — sometimes in the same person during the same game. There are, however, vast differences between the people involved in this wonderful game. Here are some of the principal characters.
If there is a debate in science about which came first, the chicken or the egg, there can be a similar debate in football about which comes first, success at adult level or underage victories propelling adult teams to glory.
In a series which went largely unnoticed in this country and in Australia, there were still important questions to be answered.
At this time of year there is a good chance to take stock and cast a cold eye on the affairs of state, at least those of the GAA world anyway. By chance, the GPA's annual report for 2016 came my way last week so I thought it was time to renew acquaintances with some old friends. Hardly surprising that I am not on the GPA's mailing list but I am quite sure readers will be interested in at least...
When I tried to study the fixture list for next year which was published last week, I did not know who to feel most sorry for - the county man or the club player. The county man will get no break at all, matches start earlier with pre-season games before the year is out in some cases, and when that is all finished he will put on his club kit which should see him well into the autumn of 2018.
I managed to annihilate over 25,000 people in Cavan last week. That is, I listed the county's population as just over 50,000, instead of 76,000. Anyway, the natives don't appear to have been too upset by it.
In 2002 the GAA's strategic review committee came up with some every interesting proposals. Looking back 15 years later, the most impressive thing associated with the body chaired by Peter Quinn was the calibre of people involved, from businessmen to future GAA presidents, and the radical conclusions they arrived at on many aspects of the GAA.
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.
The hurling proposals were last week swept through in the new GAA democracy where only a 60 per cent majority was needed. If it was a year earlier, when two-thirds was required, these proposals would have been shot down in flames.
The spotlight has been shining brightly on Colm Cooper's testimonial dinner, and the general reaction has been quite negative. The dissenting voices included my colleague Joe Brolly, who articulated his misgivings in print and on radio.
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.
The Flying Dutchman is a mythical ship that sails the seas endlessly and never makes port. Mayo players and supporters know the feeling but there are plenty of lights out west which would guide the Dutchman home to a safe harbour, and the closer we come to the game, there seems increasing confidence that the beacon is becoming stronger.
Comparisons between teams of different eras are odious. That is probably why people like doing it so much. The best team ever; the best player of his generation; the best corner-forward... the list is endless and everyone can be right as all opinion is subjective.
When the championship draws were made last November you did not have to be a genius to figure out that this day was coming - and it has come without any major fuss.
Mayo again on the verge of the promised land. A performance of manliness, aggression and bravery which reduced Kerry to an indisciplined outfit. The last act of Kieran Donaghy summed it all up, a red card which was an inglorious end to a career of many highs. Donaghy had made little impact on the game compared to the drawn match and the frustration boiled over.
When Mayo were suffering the head staggers early in the championship against Galway, Derry and Cork, there was concern, at the very least, in the tourist industry in places like Bohola, Claremorris and Kiltimagh that the normal influx of 'foreigners' would not materialise this year. These are the Mayo people who have been scattered by the four winds to places like London, New York,...
The reaction to my comments on television last Monday about the drift of the GAA towards unfettered capitalism and elitism has been quite surprising, mainly because it was not something new. In fact, I was merely expanding on several points I have been raising on a consistent basis for some time.
Tomorrow is a day of opportunity. Can Roscommon seize the moment and finish off Mayo, who have been doing their own version of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope for the last couple of months? Or can Mayo come up with something new to change a season which has provided marvellous entertainment but appears to be running out of road?
From looking a basket case against Down last month, Armagh have demonstrated admirable qualities of resilience and togetherness in eclipsing Kildare last night.
Mayo, the source of a thousand football stories, none of which have had a happy ending. So every day we search for a new angle.
When Tyrone came under scrutiny a few years ago for diving, goading and attempting to get opposition players sent off, it drove their supporters to distraction. How could anyone accuse their heroes of activity which is alien to the normal culture of the GAA?
After watching some of the hurling games over the last few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that football and hurling should be completely separated and run as different organisations. The rules in terms of contact in the two codes are supposed to be basically the same, but in practice they are worlds apart. In fact, almost anything goes in hurling. Referees interfere as little as possible and...
Last Sunday was a wonderful occasion in Croke Park. The biggest ever crowd for a Leinster hurling final, but unfortunately the game did not meet expectations. It was the most recent awakening of the Wexford giant, and there are few counties with such passion for hurling.
Jim Gavin's departure from his usual script about process, hard work and all the other clichés which he uses to keep hungry hacks at arm's length was the only shock at Croke Park last Sunday.
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 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.
There will be a great debate in years to come about whether it was Donegal or Tyrone who reduced football to a zero sum. If Tyrone started a new trend then Donegal certainly added to it.
Al Capone, Ned Kelly, Butch Cassidy . . . they never got as much publicity as Diarmuid Connolly did last week. Most of the comments around what happened in Carlow last Saturday night were negative. Connolly was tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion.
Brendan O'Sullivan put Valentia Island on the map again last week. In years past there was a Valentia player who made headlines in a different way. Mick O'Connell was the islander who graced Croke Park, Killarney and hundreds of other venues with his athleticism, skill and sheer football ability. To many in Kerry, he was the prince of football who never veered from the view that football was...
The championship is up and running - if that is the appropriate term to use. A few good hidings is mostly what we have got so far, and the trend will continue for a while longer.
When I was playing football I loved the month of May. Long holidays on the horizon, good weather, the championship starting for club and county, a time of hope. The journey was about to start again. Now when I look back I realise that I lived for the best part of a decade in a fool's paradise. There was no hope, Meath were going nowhere fast from the mid-1970s until 1986.
When news emerged about irregular betting patterns in an Athlone Town soccer match against Longford recently, there was shock and horror.
Is there a new 'get tough' policy with managers this year? Recent evidence with Kieran McGeeney would suggest that the GAA has decided to set out their stall before the championship. The three-month suspension handed down to McGeeney seems to indicate a hardening of attitudes at central level to dissent being dished out to officials.
A few clear-cut trends have emerged already this year. One of them is that there is a growing and more vocal disenchantment with the present championship structure. What players and supporters realise from the league is that you only get real competition between teams of a similar standard.
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.
In Canadian ice hockey, Wayne Gretzky was known by everyone as 'The Great One' and the area behind the net became known as 'Gretzky's office' as he hung around to score goals and provide more assists than anyone had previously.
It was a good night for the GAA in the Aviva Stadium last Tuesday as two great families, the Egans and the Hourihanes, enjoyed a very proud night.
The league has nearly always been the unloved cousin in the GAA. For many years it was 'only the league' as managers and players looked forward to the championship. Sometimes it even appeared as if it was in some way a hindrance to success later in the year.
It was a meat and two veg day at Croke Park on Friday, but it produced scenes of unconfined joy. And that even applied to the men who have mined on the county stage, especially Colm 'Gooch' Cooper, the mascot of 25 years ago and now the hometown hero.
The spring version of the Super 8 is on at present. It is called the Allianz Football League and, like all competitions where teams of similar ability are grouped together, it is proving quite entertaining.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. These words were spoken by Abraham Lincoln in 1858 when he argued that slavery must be abolished and that separate rules could not apply in different parts of his country.
We are only two weeks into the Allianz League but it is already clear how increasingly difficult it is to manage an inter-county team. Part of the reason is that players are less accepting of low standards and less tolerant, and there is no doubt that the effort required relative to the chance of some tangible reward is turning players off in big numbers.
Last Sunday was a beautiful day for football, and there was plenty of it.
The League was once a beautiful competition. Three games before Christmas, four after. No fixture congestion, no pressure that I can recall, except of course when you got to Croke Park and finals. Then it was all about winning.
When Dublin beat Kildare in the O'Byrne Cup semi-final there was a lot of comment about the state of football in the rest of Leinster if the Dubs could reach the final of the competition with a third team. The right way to look at this was not the weakness of others but the strength of Dublin.
Don't hold your breath on this one, but would it be too much to ask that at least the bones of a proper fixtures system could be agreed this year? Or at least that some committee could be put in place to carry out an examination of cause and effect?
The new Club Players' Association had a fairly heavyweight brigade lined up for its launch last week. The very existence of this group and the language of frustration that was evident indicates clearly how the GAA has become a leaderless, rudderless organisation with no clear vision of itself or where it is going.
Mayo - the story and county that just keeps on giving. They can't help themselves. When things are quiet for writers at this time of year, there is always something silly happening in Mayo. After other counties who are successful have battened down the hatches for the winter, there is always Mayo.
Patrick O'Donovan, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, announced last week that by 2019 any sports body with more than 10 employees has to have female representation of at least 30 per cent on its board in order to secure the full amount of State funding.
If you'd searched hard enough last week, you could have found out that the Railway Cup semi-finals were scheduled for yesterday. As it turned out, the funeral of Danny Murphy meant that the games involving Ulster were postponed until today, so supporters have another chance to see them.
Last week we got another airing of the black card. The referee from the All-Ireland final replay, Maurice Deegan, disclosed that he should have sent John Small off in the game but the other two he sent off were correct decisions.
One organisation, the GPA, represents about three per cent of the playing population and receives millions in funding from the GAA. Then there is the recently formed Club Players' Association, which was set up by Declan Brennan and like-minded friends of the GAA. They don't, and won't, get any funding from Croke Park for the other poor unfortunates who make up the remaining 97 per cent of the Association. Riddle me that, as Dennis the Menace used to say in The Beano.
When the IRFU announced its bid for the Rugby World Cup this week there were a lot of GAA people wondering where the catch was. On paper, it looks as if this is a complete win-win situation for the GAA - they get somebody else to pay for improving their grounds and get a big lump of money for rent as well. It might even make some of the decisions regarding the building of stadiums around the country look half-sensible.
It's Trump time, which means an era of uncontrolled capitalism. The great comb over could have learned about it all by studying the GAA at this time of year as hundreds of clubs decide they need a new manager. The old one who did it for nothing has to be replaced and the new boss has to be from outside and if he costs a packet then all the better.
Colm O'Rourke explains why winning the county title with his son on board was one of his best days in sport.
The author of the proposal on the format for the All-Ireland football championship is unclear. Whether it is Paraic Duffy alone or a joint initiative from all the main officials in Croke Park is not set out in the document, but it has been sent around to reputable people - and probably quite a few disreputable people - to get their views.
I noticed recently that Dessie Farrell is stepping down from the onerous task of guiding the GPA so I thought to myself that this was a great opportunity for a fellow like me to improve myself on the political side of the GAA and apply for the job. Naturally enough, this role is one of great importance so I decided it might be appropriate to test my credentials by way of an open letter to the public and see if there is any merit in a full-blown application for the job.
The greatest defender of the modern era has called time. Tomás Ó Sé was a prince of defenders; he could play rough or smooth, and he was the sort of man who you needed on a big day, because he always performed.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad is an old Latin phrase which Mayo have given a more modern meaning to. The agony continues and again they have contributed greatly to their own downfall. Mayo teams have a great capacity to undermine heroic effort with a wild attempt at Russian roulette. This time it manifested itself with a goalkeeping decision which to...
The old order restored. The conventional wisdom is that when champions and hot favourites get a second chance they will be able to make the small adjustments necessary to get them over the line. And so it turned out even if it was like Waterloo, a close-run affair. Dublin have again cast Mayo into this state of constant disappointment for nothing more than being the better team when it...
Many people are wondering what is going on in the teaching profession, where two unions, the INTO and TUI, have accepted the Lansdowne Road agreement, while the ASTI remains outside. Even more so now, when two of the main roadblocks have been successfully negotiated by the other unions, namely restoration of pay and the differential in income for newly qualified teachers, which was wrong and is about to be phased out, even if the ASTI was very late to even bother taking up their case.
By half-time last Sunday I was beginning to wonder was there some supernatural reason why Mayo were being blighted by such outrageous bad fortune. Not a curse because I certainly do not believe in such a thing. Yet I cannot recall an own goal in a big game, let alone two.
The story goes that when AIG wanted to spend big on sports sponsorship in Ireland, the GAA at central level tried their best to entice them into sponsoring the All-Ireland football championship, the biggest event in town.
In writing about big games I take a fairly detached, cold view of proceedings. In this case I will start off by dropping all pretence and openly state that I would like to see Mayo win. For far too long Mayo players and people have had to put up with snide remarks about being losers. Just because you lose, does not make you a loser. I played in five county finals before I won one. Perhaps I...
For the next seven days the players of Dublin and Mayo will occupy a parallel universe to the average person. They will still live in the usual place, do the same job or go to the same college.