Saturday 16 December 2017

have your say

Longford heroes deserve a break

Since the inception of the All Stars in 1972, no Longford player has been honoured. Over the years, Longford have had some fine footballers, but the county has never had much success.

Ranked 30 two years ago, Longford's progress over the past two years in winning successive promotions from Division 4 to Division 2 under the excellent management of Glenn Ryan has been recognised with two nominations for All Stars, namely Paul Barden and Michael Quinn. Seán McCormack's omission is regrettable, as he was the third highest scorer in the championship.

Paul Barden was an inspirational captain playing at centre half-forward. None of the other nominees in the half-forward line play in the centre. Paul has just completed his 13th season. He played in all 13 matches for Longford, which included a 10-game unbeaten run. Michael Quinn is in his first season with Longford after returning from Australia. His presence has given Longford an added dimension.

After Donegal's success, Longford's progress has been one of the highlights of the year. There is now an opportunity for the judges to recognise two fine footballers.

Anthony McKenna

Media stay silent over Cats' injuries

I have read ad nauseam in recent seasons journalists and pundits alike, with the Sunday Independent's Dermot Crowe being one of the most vociferous, criticising Kilkenny's physicality, fouling and that now favourite journalistic phrase 'playing on the edge'.

Now that the 2012 hurling championship is over and yet another Kilkenny hurler received a serious injury in the All-Ireland final replay, I find the sound of silence deafening.

To take just the last three games alone, Michael Rice received a hand injury against Tipperary that threatens his career whilst TJ Reid faces three or four months on the sidelines following another reckless pull against Galway. Imagine the outrage had a Kilkenny hurler been the perpetrator rather than the victim in any of these incidents?

Kilkenny hurlers are certainly no angels but in Brian Cody's 14-year term as manager I cannot recall an opposition player leaving the field with as serious an injury caused by such reckless pulls.

Does the continued success of Kilkenny now make them fair game when it comes to the infliction of serious injuries? The lack of any balance in the coverage of such incidents would suggest so.

Bobby Jackman

Keeping youngsters in soccer a priority

I would like to thank you for a well-written article 'Ireland's lost generations' [Sept 30]. I hope this article can be a platform for further discussion on the Irish soccer product, and building sustainable sporting models.

I am involved at underage soccer level, coaching a team of 7-8-year olds and have had a keen interest in soccer. I also am involved in other sports too.

The core points made in the article I agree with, including the need for investment into stronger coaching structures. However, I would go further. The domestic soccer product has the potential for better loyalty to it from those interested in soccer. Some reasons limit this.

This included the haemorrhaging of young people away from the game at too young an age. Reasons are advanced for this, but in my opinion too often the game is too competitive at too young an age. Kids or parents move away because they feel inadequate not being in the team, for example.

This results often in a resentment towards a local club among a wide circle of prospective 'customers'. Funding is limited as a result of the loss of players. In turn, as clubs struggle to pay bills, money is scarce for investment into proper coaching structures.

In explaining the undercapacity that comes from the lack of people around the rims of pitches and monies they would bring to games, soccer administrators could listen better to its prospective customer base, including parents, players and followers.

In seeking to develop a stronger Irish soccer product, a model should be sustainable. An important step, I believe, in this regard is to brand the game better. This would include naming and addressing negative 'cultural' issues that have plagued the product for so long, engendering a stronger loyalty to the sport including through a stronger focus on player retention.

With renewed 'organic' growth through some of these initiatives, the soccer product can become a better one. This will allow for example for more club-generated funding to be allocated to coaching, complemented in the short and medium term by outside funding.

Retaining young people in sport should be a priority. Whilst acknowledging the many achievements in Irish sport over the past years, and the commitment of thousands of volunteers involved in sport, until the bigger picture is addressed and sustainable sporting models are designed, Irish sport in general will be unable to provide an infrastructure to better develop sports like soccer with sustainable models.

John Dempsey

Sunday Indo Sport

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