Friday 22 November 2019

No country for grumpy old men

Eamonn Sweeney

Eamonn Sweeney

Young people. Wouldn't they get on your nerves? If they're not googling their iPads, they're blackberrying their twitters. And that oul' autotuned R and B they do be listening to. Back in my day we had proper bands with tunes you could sing along to, The Sex Pistols, Napalm Death, Niggers With Attitude.

You can't have a conversation in a pub anymore because the television is turned up to 11. And what's all this 'I'm so loving it' crap? I'm so hating you talking like a character from Beverly Hills 90210 when you're the first member of your family to have a job that doesn't involve wearing wellingtons. What do you mean you never heard of Beverly Hills 90210 you ungrateful pup?

Apologies. It appears that I'm getting old, a condition whose main symptom is an insistence that everything was much better when you were younger. Pass no heed on me. This is just the way old timers go on.

And pass no heed either on retired inter-county hurlers and footballers who denigrate their young successors. Last week you had Babs Keating sticking the boot into Lar Corbett, Eoin Kelly and John O'Brien after the All-Ireland hurling final just like he stuck the boot into Liam Sheedy and his team after they lost to Cork in last year's Munster championship. He picks his moments does Babs.

In other news, we're informed that Willie Bryan, that great midfielder from the Offaly team of the early '70s, despairs of the modern game and couldn't watch the second half of the Dublin-Donegal game because the first half was so bad. I mean, like, hello? This is worth an article? Could Willie not just have tweeted something or put it up on his blog?

Earlier in the championship season there was the unedifying spectacle of Brendan Lynskey, Conor Hayes and Noel Lane lambasting the current crop of Galway hurlers just before they played Dublin, something which probably didn't help a team given to anxiety at the best of times.

This stuff is easy for veterans to do. As Anthony Daly pointed out when Ger Loughnane criticised Clare a few years back, if the team win then the fulminating fogey can claim his criticism spurred them on; if they lose it just proves he was right all along. But really all it shows is that the guys in question, none of whom enjoyed careers of uninterrupted success themselves, have got old.

Young hurlers and footballers show tremendous respect for the players of the past. It's time this was reciprocated by the grumpy old men of the GAA. As Bob Dylan sang in The Times They Are A-Changin, "Get out of the new world if you can't lend a hand."

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And perhaps the grumbling geriatrics should heed the words of a man who was a far greater player than any of them, a man who said, when he was a selector on the Cork three-in-a-row team of the 1970s, "My hurling days are over. Let no-one say the best hurlers belong to the past. They are with us now -- and better yet to come."

Christy Ring didn't get much wrong.

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