Saturday 20 July 2019

Martin Breheny: The hysterical reaction to Tipp's latest defeat has already reached ridiculous levels

Breheny Beat

20 May 2018; Kyle Hayes of Limerick in action against Ronan Maher of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 1 match between Limerick and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
20 May 2018; Kyle Hayes of Limerick in action against Ronan Maher of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 1 match between Limerick and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Has it emerged from the realisation that April was a lost month when the black-out on the inter-county scene did little enough for clubs?

Could it be the earlier start to the provincial championships? Or is it all about pressure and stress, a dangerous combination in any sphere of life?

Whatever the sources, something has greatly disturbed the GAA landscape just as the summer season is beginning to warm up.

Only 11 football and six hurling games have been played in the provinces and already we have had a sacking, a row conducted in public between a manager and a county board and an allegation that a provincial football campaign lacks integrity.

There was also Michael Ryan's silent treatment after Tipperary's defeat by Limerick, complete with a county board statement that he wouldn't be talking until the end of the round robin campaign. He has since thought better of it, as outlined in an interview with Tipp FM yesterday, where he promised to resume media engagement next Sunday.

Fair play to him. He has reacted to an error of judgement and that's the end of it. Of more relevance is the hysterical reaction to Tipperary's defeat, some of which reached ridiculous levels.

Granted, it was a sloppy performance but they were still only two points behind until Barry's Murphy's late Limerick goal.

Now here's a thing: the Tipp team have been slated inside and outside the county while Limerick are being eulogised. But if Tipp were so bad and Limerick so good, why was there so little between them for so long?

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And why such surprise that Limerick, who had beaten Tipperary in two of their previous four championship meetings, won a game on their home ground? It's all about knee-jerk reaction nowadays, with a plethora of former players-turned-pundits believing that over-the-top reaction is the best platform to get aboard the media gravy train.

Some, who had so little to say during their playing days that they appeared to be contemplating becoming Trappist monks on their retirement, have suddenly discovered the gift of tongues. And in strident tones too. Alleluia, hail the miracles.

All that has happened with Tipperary is that they have lost the first of a four-match series. A setback yes, but didn't Kilkenny lose their first two games in this year's Allianz League, sparking claims of an impending famine? Where's the trophy now? In Nowlan Park.

And the moral of the story? Where Tipperary are concerned, it's best to suspend judgement just yet.

Forming an opinion on what happened in Offaly football is a different matter. The removal of manager Stephen Wallace after the defeat by Wicklow was justified by the county board on the basis that his suspension, arising from an incident in a club game in his native Kerry, rendered his position untenable.

Would they have removed him if Offaly had beaten Wicklow? And what of managers in other counties who continued in the role while under suspension? In the strictest sense, that's a rule violation but since Croke Park looks the other way, most counties ignore managerial suspensions.

Not Offaly, who didn't even allow Wallace to complete his first term. He volleyed back, accusing the board of "putting roadblocks in our way every second of every day". Good luck to interim manager Paul Rouse, but it looks like a lost summer for Offaly.

Billy Lee's future in Limerick must also be under serious doubt too. He lowered the blades when cutting into the county board, whom he accused of "not doing their job right".

He alleged that catering arrangements for the squad fell down last week and that an administrative error regarding notification to Croke Park of the squad to play Clare left them unable to play a panel member (Jim Liston). Limerick County Board refuted Lee's claims in a public statement, effectively blaming the team management for the problems as outlined. Sounds like the end of a beautiful (or maybe not so beautiful) relationship when Limerick's championship is over.

While Michael Ryan stayed silent after Tipp hurlers' defeat, his football counterpart Liam Kearns had plenty to say following the win over Waterford last Saturday.

He described the schedule hoisted on his squad by the Munster Council as "an absolute disgrace". Alone of the 32 teams in the four provincial campaigns, Tipperary have two games in a week, with Cork coming to Semple Stadium next Saturday.

"The integrity of the competition has been completely compromised. Cork now have an advantage over us. It's wrong, absolutely wrong," said Kearns. He is 100 per cent correct.

But then, it took a threat some years ago by players from Tipperary, Clare, Limerick and Waterford to boycott the Munster Championship unless a plan to seed Kerry and Cork on opposite sides of the draw was scrapped so it's no great surprise that another issue has arisen now.

Right across the GAA's big board, it appears that stress levels have never been as high. And we're only in late May. You wonder, for instance, how Kieran McGeeney feels after Armagh's abject performance against Fermanagh. Croke Park are on Armagh's case over allegedly breaking the training camp ban when travelling to Portugal some weeks ago.

The return on a costly venture was scoring seven points, only two of which came from play. So what did they learn in Portugal?

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