Maghery have shown the way
THIS is by no means a dig at Crossmaglen, but Armagh football needed their ridiculous domination to cease, or at least regress. For the first time since the early 90s, the Senior Championship winner is not a given. Between 1996 and 2015 Cross, incredibly, won 19 of the 20 county titles on offer, over the last five years they have won two. Maghery are also on two, and by my count have won three of the last four championship meetings between the clubs. Indeed, only for their laughably bad service into the full-forward in last year’s semi-final, they could have had another title to their name. Anyway, Finnian Moriarty’s side have shown that Cross can be beaten and now it’s up to others to stand up. Crossmaglen will be the most successful team in Armagh over the next decade, others must ensure that it’s not total domination – for the good of any interest in the Orchard’s main championship.
There’s glory in the struggle
I READ Bernard Brogan’s autobiography at the weekend – more in hope than expectation given most GAA books don’t reveal much of their protagonists – but in fairness it was a great read. Roughly half the book centred on his struggles to get any sort of game-time in the last couple of seasons, which sounds like a recipe for mopery and narcissism, but in fairness Bernard comes across as a good skin who recognised that his days as darling of the Hill were long gone. Jim Gavin mightn’t be too pleased that many of their conversations are divulged in the book, and the fact that Dublin had effectively a fringe player in top form at training but regularly failing to make a match-day panel is scary for the rest of us. I couldn’t help but be impressed by his commitment by the cause, and there was no real sense that he was glory-hunting by staying on for the five in-a-row.
Cue up to help grass roots
BARRY Hearn never really struck me as a man I would refer to in Gaelic Life, but there you go. The lines on a football pitch are unlikley to interst him more than the financial bottom line. Big crowds, loads of money, pay days for the sports stars. However, anyone who watched the horse racing last week would have seen Barry Hearn suggest that the problem with the Sport of Kings is that it doesn’t do enough for the grassroots, and it needs to get more fans in. He said that the sport needed to pump money into the lower levels in order for it to be successful and it had to make the top level stuff more accessible. Now if we admit that Hearn has done a good job in improving snooker, then we have to take him at his word. And his word transfers over to the GAA in that he would argue that for the game to progress we have to take care of the grassroots.
All-Ireland Championship still up in the air
SO, it was basically finalised earlier this week that the All-Ireland Championships are going to go ahead this year. Yet going by a new blueprint in the Republic for combatting the virus, there still seems a significant chance that it won’t go ahead if the virus rate continues to increase. We’re at phase two now, and if it gets to game four, matches will be cancelled. Even the experts are unsure of how the next couple of months are going to pan out, and God willing there won’t be another lockdown (phase five basically). It’s hard to know whether people would really accept that anyway, but when flu season kicks in this winter, it’s hard to see things getting any better anyway.
Carryduff building on their foundations
IN my work in the Gaelic Life, one thing I’ve noticed is that u-21 championships are viewed with varying degrees of prestige across Ulster. In Down I think it is still seen as a pretty big deal, and Carryduff’s three in-a-row last year was a magnificent achievement. At the time it was chalked down as building blocks for the future but now, less than 12 months later, they are into their first Down Senior final. They will be up against it when they face Kilcoo but it’s clear that their success has built something into them that they have been able to transfer. Maybe other counties need to realise that u-21 success is still a profitable path.
Possession of the truth
THANK goodness for Jose Mourinho, the patron Saint of easy stories for time-pressed hacks. This week he had a pop at an English reporter who had the brass-neck to suggest that Everton played well against his soccer ball team. Mourinho took the right old hump. And asked the reporter why he thought that Everton played well. “They had more possession,” was the reporter’s response. Jose replied with “what is ‘possession?’” I can see both sides of the argument. Jose might be assuming that the reporter has an opinion and is trying to put that across, but all the guy with the mic wants is to have a big juicy mackerel tossed his way, if you are a fan of Eric Cantona references. The reporter’s mistake is to presume that possession means that a team has played well. That’s a key point in sports these days, having the ball does not mean you are better. Ask any fan who’s watched their side hand pass across the 45 for 30 minutes if you want that point backed up.