Monday 18 December 2017

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Wrong Ricey – how you played matters

Could there be a greater difference between two All-Ireland medal winners in their attitude to their sport than that between Liam Gilmartin of Roscommon featured in the Sunday Independent [Nov 11] in an article by Dermot Crowe and Ryan McMenamin, who was profiled by Colm Keys in the Irish Independent [Nov 13]? I don't think so!

On how football should be played, Gilmartin says, "Nobody should say well we won, it doesn't matter how we played, we won."

In contrast, McMenamin tells us how he taunted a player when he missed his first free. "He missed three or four and we won the game by three or four points."

Gilmartin did not hold with "any of the common tactics used to gain unfair advantage".

McMenamin has no such qualms. He regales us with how he was suspended for six weeks after he grabbed Paul Galvin by the testicles in a league match. He goes on to tell us how he and big Packie McConnell still "debate" about which of them "floored" Colm 'Gooch' Cooper in the 2005 All-Ireland final.

Gilmartin has great admiration for Mick Higgins of Cavan, who said he'd like to be remembered as someone who "never hit anyone, who played a clean game and that I was never put off."

McMenamin, accepting that his career will be remembered more for the "off-the-ball stuff," has this to say: "At the end of the day, I don't really care, I played county football to win and that's all I did."

I wonder if now that he has hung up his boots he'd care to reflect on a different sports philosophy as expounded in the following lines of the poem Alumnus Football by Grantland Rice, the early 20th century American sports writer:

"For when the one great scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes not that you won or lost – but how you played the game".

Jim O'Connell

Gilmartin story strikes a chord

Congratulations on a wonderful article on Liam Gilmartin of Roscommon.

It's a story that just plays on your emotions – of a great footballer reaching the pinnacle with three All-Ireland medals in his pocket (one minor, two senior) yet has to retire at 23 before reaching his prime because of ill health from which he thankfully, or perhaps miraculously, recovered.

As a young lad growing up in West Cork, we too had our 'Foley's Field', sometimes more than one. Cork of course took Roscommon's place in 1945. I'm sure Liam is acquainted with those players. All the footballers mentioned in the article are household names – great footballers.

I actually played against Weeshie Murphy and Eamon Young in later years. An experience I had against Eamon Young is pertinent to Liam's views. Playing at full-back against Eamon, he gets possession of the ball, I charge in but of course Eamon wasn't there.

Some time later he gets possession again, I stand my ground, I relieve him of the ball and having cleared I immediately get a tap on the shoulder from Eamon with the words "that's better". Something I never forgot and it goes to show the manner in which football was played was so important to some players such as Liam Gilmartin and Eamon Young.

The mention of Mick O'Connell too was appropriate – a pure footballer in motion. I had the privilege of playing Sigerson Cup with him when, interestingly, we were trained by Eamon Young.

Liam's illness too brings you back in time. A neighbour's son succumbed to the disease and years later a younger brother who used to play football with us became ill. I remember going out to Sarsfields Court Sanatorium, Glanmire to see him. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.

Diarmuid O'Sullivan

Cheap shot does disservice to Mayo

Just a note to express my disappointment at Eamonn Sweeney's comment about 'missing the point like a Mayo forward on All-Ireland day' [Nov 18].

I was disappointed because I have always felt that this type of 'cheap shot' is inappropriate from a respected journalist like Eamonn. The comment seems to be totally at odds with all his insightful and considered views as expressed in his column over the years. He always champions the underdog and that is why the comment was out of the blue. In Mayo we are proud of our teams and hope that we will soon make the big breakthrough that we strive for.

John McNicholas

Fenlon comment rings true to life

I have to say I'm no great fan of Jim McGuinness and I have little time for the GAA and its constant dread of professionalism. Top GAA managers have been making a fine life out of the GAA going back to the 1960s, so Eamonn Sweeney's point on Pat Fenlon is well made.

Paddy Purcell

Sunday Indo Sport

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