GAELIC Life revealed earlier this week that Pat Cunningham was set to be the new Down minor manager, and the appointment was duly confirmed on Tuesday evening. What’s interesting is that Cunningham fended off some massive names for the position, like Ross Carr, Mickey Linden and Mickey McVeigh. Now I don’t know whether it was the right call or not, time will tell, but I think they do deserve a bit of credit for picking the lesser-known name over the alternatives. On the club circuit, and indeed in some counties, some people seem to get their gigs on their name alone, but the best person should always get the role. Good luck to Pat and his team.
I WAS inspired by the news recently that a group of Gaels joined forces with some sporting celebs to call for restrictions to be lifted to allow kids to get back outside and playing football. Inspired by the fact that folks believe that things can be achieved by letter writing. I hope that they also WhatsApped everyone they know to explain what a letter is, as I’d say a good deal of the younger generation believe that those red or green boxes are for setting their phones on to get a good selfie shot. Though the real inspiration is that folks believe that they can make a change. With regards the issue of whether kids should be allowed out to play or not, look elsewhere for an opinion on this as my only area of expertise is how to miss deadlines, how to overwrite articles and how to fail miserably while attempting to write with even a modicum of style.
TYRONE chairperson Mickey Kerr has called for another club-first season in the event that the games can’t begin before May. I’d be of a similar viewpoint myself for reasons of participation; club players will be sitting around until the latter stages of the year if the intercounty game goes ahead first, and there’s more chance of a few spectators being allowed into big county matches if we have a similar format to last year. I think it’s also important that the provincial club championships go ahead this year, and the main thing is that everyone gets accommodated by the powers-that-be. It’s a tough time but there’s plenty of reason to be positive – there could be six months worth of games once the thing gets going again.
AS you can read about in this week’s Gaelic Life, the push to get kids back playing in Ireland continues to gather pace on both sides of the border. As Aidan O’Rourke said in the Irish Times earlier this week, the difficulty is trying not to sound like a Covid-denier, but the science does suggest that underage outdoor sport can return in a safe manner. I have worked as a Covid officer with my club and I saw first-hand the efforts made by coaches and parents, so I would have full faith in it working. Screens can’t win over exercise – this is a matter of great importance.
THIS has the air of a particularly important year for Down. They haven’t fared too well at underage level in recent years, and I think it’s no coincidence that they haven’t being tearing it up at senior level either. The appointment of Conor Laverty with a high-powered backroom team to the u-20 management was a statement of intent, and while new minor manager Pat Cunningham doesn’t have the same name recognition, he has an impressive track record with the Down development squads, and he’s also assembled a very impressive backroom team. As for the seniors, they’ve borne the brunt of no little stick in the last few weeks because of the breach in Covid restrictions, but that’ll be forgotten about in time, and they’ll want to push on after last year’s disappointing Ulster semi-final defeat to Cavan.
ANOTHER week and another story of how a split season can help the GAA. Check out Niamh Donnelly, the Antrim camog’s interview in this week’s paper as she outlines how a split season positively affected the Saffrons last year. She said that because the season was shorter, and the girls were able to focus fully on the county, it meant that they had a bigger panel. She also said that some girls were free to give over time because they didn’t have clubs, or dancing or children to look after. For most females this would seem fairly obvious, but in folks like me who have a patriarchal mindset this was an eye-opener. And surely this has got to be a big take away for the GAA, if they want the ladies game to prosper then the fixture list must consider their needs and make sure that it puts women’s needs first.