Friday 15 December 2017

Eugene McGee: Kildare players should stop publicity-seeking or damaging rift will widen

Eugene McGee
Eugene McGee
Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

There are not many certainties in the GAA because of the diverse nature of the organisation, but one thing that is virtually guaranteed is that a county divided will not achieve much on the field.

We only have to look at the Cork hurlers some years ago and the Meath footballers in recent times to see that.

Therefore, the most important requirement for Kildare GAA people right now is to somehow reunite the county following that divisive vote of 29-28 to depose Kieran McGeeney as manager.

It is always difficult to get harmony within the various components that make up a county team – including the board, the club officers around the county, the players on the panel and the people who unofficially bankroll the training costs.

I do not know enough about the inner workings of Kildare GAA but I know enough to realise that there has been a growing disenchantment in the past few years, which culminated in Tuesday's vote.


This was based on two main criteria: the poor form of the Kildare senior team over the past two seasons and the complaints of clubs about fixture-making.

The latter is clearly the main factor because it was club members who ticked 29 votes against McGeeney.

Tuesday's events leave Kildare in a sorry mess because every county player who spoke out in advance, and they were many, was adamant that McGeeney should stay. But of course they would!

They have settled into a regime of training, dieting, discipline, etc that they have grown accustomed to and, as a result, are not looking forward to new system under a different manager.

Players are creatures of habit and they like McGeeney's habits. Whether the majority of Kildare football people agree with that is something I would not be capable of answering, but clearly Kildare clubs do not.

What this dispute brings into focus again is the perceived power of team managers.

Rightly or wrongly, many clubs around the country are very unhappy with the way some managers seem to seek ownership of players on county teams.

They make excessive demands on these men at the expense of their clubs, and eventually something has to give.

Many clubs feel they are not getting a fair crack of the whip regarding the availability of their county players, and there is constant friction, as we are witnessing with Jim McGuinness and Donegal.

Undoubtedly, the fact that Kildare did not even win a Leinster title in six seasons under McGeeney adds to the aggravation of the clubs as they see no reward for the sacrifices they make to facilitate their county players.

The Seanie Johnston affair last year also annoyed a great number of Kildare GAA people.

But many Kildare people seem to have unrealistic expectations for their senior team, which adds to the pressure. Kildare have only won two Leinster titles since 1956 – that's 57 years – both during Mick O'Dwyer's second term in charge, in 1998 and 2000. So maybe the explanation for their failure is simply that their teams are not good enough, no matter who they get as manager.

That does not go down well with the more vociferous fans but can they prove it is not true?

Healing this divide will not be easy. Some will seek a Kildare man as manager, while others will want another big-name personality. Some will want the recent panel disbanded and new players brought in on the basis that the recent group have had too many chances by now. Others will want to retain the status quo.

The panel, now McGeeney is gone, would be wise to refrain from further publicity-seeking. Whether they like it or not, a decision was made and that is that. The history of players trying to tell county boards how to run their business has in the main been disastrous. Sing dumb, lads, if you are wise.

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