Sunday 19 November 2017

Joe Molloy: Tom Cribbin proves sorry is not always the hardest word to say

Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin saw his team's fortunes revived over the past two months
Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin saw his team's fortunes revived over the past two months

Joe Molloy

Sometimes a bit of humility goes a long way. Back around league time, the Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin came across our radar in rather dramatic fashion. He was pretty livid; utterly dejected and let down by the performances of his team across the whole league campaign.

Straight after their inevitable relegation to Division 3, he let rip: "There's a few big players just not performing for us and I don't know why or what's wrong. You're expecting poor young Shane Dempsey to come on and win matches when you have senior players, that's f***ing not on. Excuse my language, but this isn't going to happen... There's hard questions to be asked and answered in the next week or two because we may just have to go on without a clatter of these players and start working on these young lads for the future."

Cribbin naturally went viral in the GAA world for a day or so. Worse still, he now had a problem. We honestly figured at the time it was over for him and his team, that the relationship was bust. Sure he might hang on for a mundane effort in the championship, but really there's not much to build on when a manager fillets his players so publicly.

Fast forward to Monday night's show and Cribbin joined us, fresh from Sunday's stunning victory over Meath, and their other championship wins against Louth and Wexford. Naturally, we played him back his words from April.

How long before you regretted saying them, we wondered? 'Less than an hour', he replied. It was all 'heat of the moment' stuff, 'pure frustration'. And then he gave us a hint of why his players stuck with him. Come the Tuesday night after 'the rant' he stood up in front of them.

"I owed them an apology.' he told us. "It was fairly obvious. Sometimes you put your foot in it and you have to be man enough to admit you put your foot in it. And that's what I did. I apologised to my players. No matter what I feel, I owe them the courtesy to talk to them first, direct. The guys accepted my apology."

Players don't want the headmaster routine, especially these days. Well played Tom Cribbin.

Irish Independent

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