Monday 23 April 2018

Big ball... small ball: 'Players pulling the plug at the first hurdle' - Cassidy

Former Derry boss Damien Cassidy. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Former Derry boss Damien Cassidy. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE Sportsdesk

When outlining the problem currently hindering progress with Derry's senior footballers, former Oak Leaf boss Damian Cassidy hit the nail on the head regarding the struggles of inter-county sides who are swimming against the tide.

Serving an apprenticeship and spending time on the bench as you learn the inter-county ropes is part and parcel with successful counties like Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone but far too often emerging talents outside of the top tier throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity.

"Supporters and people who follow it at club level have been piping in players' ears for so long about 'don't go to the county team, that's a waste of time' that it's now a serious issue," Cassidy told 'The Irish News'.

"You have players who pull the plug at the first hurdle they face as a player. In Tyrone, there are very few players who come on to the senior panel and play in their first year, Pádraig Hampsey sat on the bench all last year for example. That would never happen in Derry.

"The question I'd be asking players is: 'If I put you on the bench for five months for whatever reason, are you still going to be there?' If the answer's not yes then you're better without them."

A chip off the Canavan block

With a father who captained Tyrone to their first All-Ireland SFC title, Darragh Canavan has big shoes to fill but the Errigal Ciarán teenager is carving a name of his own and kicked three brilliant points as Tyrone's U-17s booked their All-Ireland final place on Wednesday night.

Tyrone's Darragh Canavan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Darragh Canavan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Joe Brolly, for one, sees a bright future for the younger Canavan, and after seeing him in action earlier this year, he described him "as a mini Peter".

Brolly added: "I was just sitting there with my mouth open thinking, 'Oh my God, this kid is going to torture us'. This kid - left foot, right foot, his passing, his moving, his head was up all the time.

"Just like his dad. If you didn't know the younger Canavan was playing on the pitch, you would have said, 'Oh my God, that looks like Peter Canavan reincarnated'."

Cody and Davy duel to help raise cancer funds 

GAA stars face a new breed of opposition in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge next Tuesday as they measure up against Ireland's top jockeys in the Hurling for Cancer Research 2017 exhibition match.

Legendary trainer Jim Bolger and top jockey Davy Russell will bring household names like Richie Hogan, JJ Delaney, Niall Quinn, Stephen Hunt, Joe Brolly and Peter Canavan together to take part in the celebrity hurling match in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. 

To date the event has raised a whopping €540,000 and Jim Bolger's star-studded side will be managed by 1996 All-Ireland-winning Wexford boss Liam Griffin and current Model manager Davy Fitzgerald, while Davy Russell's side are led by 11-time All-Ireland-winning Kilkenny boss Brian Cody and assisted by Derby winning jockey Kevin Manning. 

All the stars will be available for photos and autographs afterwards.

Hurl the habit and make 'Croker' a smoke-free zone 

On a day when more breathtaking displays are expected, Sunday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final clash of Cork and Waterford will see Croke Park encourage smokers in attendance to #hurlthehabit.

Patrons are asked to refrain from smoking anywhere inside GAA HQ and it's hoped that it will influence other GAA clubs to become smoke-free zones as Ireland strives towards its 2025 tobacco-free target. 

Legendary GAA commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, a former smoker, supports the initiative: "I smoked during an era when the health ramifications weren't widely known.

"It wasn't unusual to see players smoking in the changing rooms, at half-time and even on the sidelines of Croke Park but quitting cigarettes many years ago was one of the best decisions of my life."

BGE Stat of the Week

9 - The minimum number of hours which Derry's U-21 hurlers will be on the road for on Saturday week as they face the daunting round trip from the Oak Leaf county to Semple Stadium, Thurles where another huge task awaits Collie McGurk's Ulster kingpins with Leinster champions Kilkenny in the opposite corner as the home of hurling hosts both Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U-21 HC semi-finals.

Irish Independent

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