Wednesday 22 May 2019

David Kelly: 'Dear John, it's time to think about parting of the ways'

New cast of characters required to end Irish football’s long-running theatre of the absurd

FAI chief executive John Delaney with Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane in France for the Euro 2016 qualifying draw. Photo: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE
FAI chief executive John Delaney with Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane in France for the Euro 2016 qualifying draw. Photo: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Thought I'd start with a few lines of Beckett, if you don't mind.

"We can still part, if you think it would be better."

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"It's not worthwhile now."

"No, it's not worthwhile now."

I know he's probably not exactly your mug of flat white. Someone once told me that you 'look like an Oscar Wilde man.' Or maybe it was 'looks like Oscar Wilde, man.' I can't remember, which is a pity.

Anyway, Vladimir and Estragon came to mind while watching the match in Aarhus (that I can remember, which is also a pity).

John Delaney throwing his tie into the crowd after a draw against Russia in 2011. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE
John Delaney throwing his tie into the crowd after a draw against Russia in 2011. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Both seemed to offer up a study in the theatre of the absurd; the profound meaning of nothing and all that.

Basically, they're the two lads who are 'Waiting for Godot' but the whole point of the play is that Godot never arrives and was never going to arrive but sure the lads just keep waiting anyway.

It's like they're waiting for an ending that never comes and they're so scared of missing the ending that they're also frightened of leaving each other alone so they stay together.

They remind me of you and Martin O'Neill in a way.

Dundalk’s Stephen Kenny has been touted as a possible Ireland boss. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dundalk’s Stephen Kenny has been touted as a possible Ireland boss. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

But the curtain always falls in the end. The final whistle always blows. Get my drift?

"Well? What do we do?"

"Don't let's do anything. It's safer."

The public might think that doing nothing is easy but we all know differently don't we? It's damned hard work.

After all doing nothing is doing something. I read that in a self-help book once. Or maybe it was another Beckett play.

Anyway, the whole "doing nothing" strategy is brilliant.

The European Championships draw will be held next week - hard by the Samuel Beckett Bridge as it happens - but it doesn't matter what happens there really, does it?

After all, Ireland could conceivably not score a goal and still qualify for the bash. They're guaranteed a play-off after all. So, if all 14 of their matches finished 0-0, they would just need to win a penalty shoot-out to qualify. Genius!

Perhaps Martin and his lads should start practising penalties. I mean, they have all the defensive stuff sorted out now; just lash a half-dozen defenders into the team in a variety of different positions and hope Darren Randolph has a blinder.

They've clearly decided to abandon the pretence of scoring goals or creating or passing the ball and all that rot and it seems like an absolute stunning exercise in the simplicity of doing nothing.

But maybe, like your manager who never forgets to remind us all that he still has a reputation, it often seems that with such an unparalleled status in Irish sports administration - why else would you be able to command such an impressive salary? - perhaps you deserve a higher calling than the FAI too.

After all, your name is revered throughout Europe.

Why, even in Aarhus the local police reluctantly refused to allow the Irish fans to unfurl their many flags of unequivocal support expressing their desire to see you moved on as quickly as possible. Their empathy and encouragement for your career development is quite touching; these truly are the ties that bind, although in your case I seem to remember it was once also shoes.

But no, there was a tie thrown into the adoring supporters at one stage, wasn't there? Anyway, I'm glad you stopped all that.

Far better to retain one's decorum for a man in your position of eminence and limit oneself to the occasional rousing rendition of an Irish ballad perhaps.

But for now it is for you the balladeers burst their pipes in acclamation. "Delaney out!" They too want you to get the higher calling you deserve!

You are both brilliant human beings but perhaps it is time to carry that brilliance elsewhere now - time for a brilliant exit - an Irish Brexit, perhaps.

Obvious

Perhaps you all see no reason to rush things. Dundalk's double-winning manager Stephen Kenny, the obvious candidate, has time on his hands even if the rest of the country is patiently counting the days.

Maybe you and the FAI Board, those fine body of predominantly wise and old, so very old, men, might surprise everyone and act with haste?

Indeed, there was some talk on the Aarhus bush telegraph from someone close to the nerve centre indicating that time was up on O'Neill and company.

Then again, we've been down this road before and if Giovanni Trapattoni could artfully plough on when it seemed he was done for, perhaps O'Neill might similarly be able to keep his eye on the ball, even though none of his players can.

Your move, John. Or rather, the board's move as you quite rightly say that only they can make a decision on football matters. They're the experts, after all.

"Well, shall we go?"

"Yes, let's go."

[They do not move.]

Yours sincerely,

DK

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