Saturday 24 February 2018

Colm O'Rourke

'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.

Corofin’s Gary Sice and Karol Mannion of St Brigid’s go head to head in today’s AIB Connacht Senior Football Club Championship final.

Colm O'Rourke: I wouldn't mourn county game but club is sacred 

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.

Colm O'Rourke: GPA needs a new chief and I know just the man 

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.

Voice of reason: Pat King, ASTI’s former general secretary

ASTI is marching its members towards their own destruction 

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.

Mayo's Aidan O'Shea fends off Tyrone's Ronan McNamee. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: If you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen 

What have Diarmuid Connolly, Seán Cavanagh, Aidan O'Shea, James O'Donoghue, Colm Cooper, Bernard Brogan, Peter Canavan, Bernard Flynn, Brian Stafford, Michael Donnellan, Ja Fallon, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Dinny Allen, Mike Sheehy, Bomber Liston, Pat Spillane, Jimmy Keaveney, James McCartan senior and junior, Mickey Linden, Greg Blaney, Seán O'Neill, Paddy Doherty, John Keenan, Cyril Dunne, Tony McTague, Mattie McDonagh, Kevin Heffernan, Mick O'Dwyer - among many others - all got in common?

‘This game will be good for Mickey Harte’s team in their quest to have all avenues of attack closed off for future purposes’

Colm O'Rourke: Replay skirmish just the beginning of Tyrone's long war 

The GAA family is remarkably resilient. Despite the competition from, and great interest in, the European Championships from a broad sporting public, the television viewing figures for Gaelic football and hurling matches have held up. Add in that the football championship has been an ongoing bore and it is amazing to consider that so many followers live in a constant state of optimism. They seem to believe that the next match will be the one to banish the dark clouds.

Ronan Daly and Ciarán Murtagh celebrate Roscommon’s victory over Kerry. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Colm O'Rourke: Roscommon are making a name for themselves 

Who do Geoff Claffey, Niall Daly, Enda Smith, David Murray, Neil Collins and Seán Purcell play for? I think a lot of football supporters would not guess correctly. And it is not a Division 3 or 4 team. If you add in Seán McDermott, Cathal Cregg and Senan Kilbride there are some - but maybe not too many - who would get it right. It is strange that the players who have made the most progress this year, and who are playing some of the most attractive football in the country, remain largely unknown outside their own county, Roscommon.

Donegal’s Neil Gallagher gets his handpass away against Galway last summer

Let handpass change rock the cradle first 

This month 40 years ago, I played my first competitive game for Meath, in the league against Mayo. There was no sponsor's name on our jerseys, players kicked the ball off the ground for frees and sideline kicks, there was far less handpassing and there was no such thing as yellow or red cards, never mind black. There were three subs, who were only put on when the game was lost or somebody got a terrible injury and the corner-forward was always taken off, even if the midfielder was getting a roasting.