Gaelic football: 5 things we now know after the weekend's action

Ewan MacKenna reckons one of those in the Sunday Game studio ‘completely embarrassed’ themselves yesterday.

Dublin's Kevin McManamon and Derek Crilly of Louth.
Dublin's Kevin McManamon and Derek Crilly of Louth.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

1. Enough is enough

A few weeks ago we complimented ‘The Sunday Game’ for bringing new elements to the show. But, while we give credit when it’s due, we will criticise when it’s warranted as well.

Last night we had dreams about hand-pass-to-kick-pass ratios to such a degree that watching Pat Spillane’s analysis on tape has joined cheese on our list of things to avoid before bed time.

It’s not a nice thing to have to say about a man doing a job, but yesterday he completely embarrassed himself.

Before the Longford-Wexford game he abused the counties over the size of their back-room teams and the use of medicine balls in the warm-up. At half-time in a fascinating game between two mid-tier counties he talked of All-Ireland finals in the 1970s. By this stage even Joe Brolly was trying to save his colleague when he wouldn’t save himself.

It had already gone beyond a joke when, afterwards, Spillane talked about how he kicked three points a game from play during his career, comparing one of the greatest exponents of the sport ever — himself — with a bunch of players that aren’t good enough to win a provincial medal between them. All the while he neglected to analyse what was really happening, preferring to hammer home an agenda he had brought to his day at work. Indeed at times he called players stupid for not kicking the ball into traffic, as repeatedly they took the sensible option and waited for an opening.

Longford and Wexford deserve better. The viewers deserve better. The players deserve better. The sport deserves better.

2. No, seriously, enough

And while we are on ‘The Sunday Game’ we might as well get it all out of our system. A few years ago we started to worry about the influence it was exerting over discipline issues and how certain incidents were only revisited when they were highlighted on the show. And that’s all it is, a show. But whatever about short-term influence, it worries us when the panel starts to talk about the actual structure of the championship and tries to play God over the future of smaller counties without looking into the pros and cons of such vital issues.

We are all into discussion and debate, but ‘The Sunday Game’ should realise the power it wrongly holds before tackling the very biggest questions in our sport without giving them considered thought beforehand.

3. I didn’t do it

We suggest that next year at Congress there is a motion to ban all managers talking like their Premier League counterparts. Of course Pat Gilroy was just being sensible when saying there isn’t that much between Dublin and Louth (clearly, there is) but it was Peter Canavan that made us shake our heads most of all yesterday.

And it wasn’t even his Arsene Wenger style ‘I haven’t seen the incident yet’ when asked about Daryl Keenan throwing a rabbit punch. It was what came next that made us roll our eyes, when he said his half-forward wasn’t that type of player. It’s a phrase that has always confused us, if only because we are caught between not knowing what it means and knowing what it means is complete rubbish. Clearly Keenan is that type of player given he had just boxed a player in the stomach.

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He even looked around at the umpires before firing off a shot so he’d considered his actions which were very selfish given that he cost his team any chance at achieving what they’ve been training for since January at the latest.

4. Capital gains

No, not Dublin. We mean the English capital. So they lost to Leitrim yesterday and didn’t beat Mayo a year ago when they had the opportunity to create quite possibly the biggest shock in Gaelic football history. But Paul Coggins has gotten together a group that believe and are willing to work to improve, rather than just getting some free gear each year. And that is great for the game and provides a dimension we’ve never had before. London are only going to get a better quality of footballer as time goes on and it’s exciting and it’s different and makes us hope that Coggins can keep them on their upward curve. While yesterday was a great opportunity missed, it won’t be long before they finally get that Connacht victory and everyone should celebrate when that happens, except their direct opponents that day of course.

5. No more home comforts

A week ago, I received quite a few tweets expressing outrage over the fact that Tipperary and Limerick was to be shown on television and not Meath and Wicklow. But there was a very simple reason. The GAA have decided there needs to be a blackout when it comes to certain games in order to get the crowds out. And it works just as it’s worked in other areas of the world. On a trip to Brazil a few years ago I discovered that in each region, they get to watch a different region’s team play but never their own. And it’s that which is the difference between 1,000s sitting at home and 1,000s getting up and going to see their team.

Obviously Ireland isn’t big enough for such a move so credit the GAA for their total cancellation of TV coverage of certain games and given the weather yesterday, we believe it was a big reason behind the 12,500 who turned up at Brewster Park. It might cost the association some money but it’s worth it to increase atmosphere and awareness of championship Sundays up and down the country.

As it happened: Dublin v Louth, Leinster SFC Quarter-Final

Taking stick: When the result doesn’t matter

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