I was delighted to see Tommy Carr begin a debate last week that urgently needs to be had on the state of Gaelic football, writes PJ Cunningham.
For the past few years, I’ve quietly begun to question my own judgment of inter-county fare by considering that maybe I was turning into an old curmudgeon.
Hallelujah! Out of nowhere, the former Dubs skipper and manager lashed out at what passes for entertainment in the big ball game these past few years.
Shooting straight from the hip, he declared: “I’m telling you here and now, it (Gaelic football) is a bore. You don’t need to watch the first half of a game any more. Watch the last 20 minutes and you’ll get what the game is.”
So let’s get this straight, you don’t like modern-day Gaelic football, Tommy? “It is atrocious stuff. It is horrendous stuff. I wouldn’t go to a football match any more unless I’m working at it.”
I agree totally with him. Games now are all about going from side to side with an increasing use of what is euphemistically described as ‘the dark arts’ – players being wrestled and pulled back when trying to make runs for kick-outs as well as off-the-ball assaults on key players in a bid to get them sent off.
Maybe London GAA might show badly needed leadership by bringing a motion to Congress next year seeking a major curtailment of the hand pass to two or three in succession so that players will be forced to KICK the ball with their feet.
That way, we might get to see some football again. An offshoot of this skill would seek fans being treated to old-fashioned duels between players in set positions rather than the rugby league trash we are forced to endure these days.
Galway relying too often on rub of the green
Galway and Clare both disappointed with the quality of the fare they served up in Thurles on Sunday, but then who remembers impressive semi-final winners?
Micheál Donoghue will be happy to be back in a final with a real chance of completing back-to-back final victories, thereby emulating Cyril Farrell’s team of the late eighties but they will need to find a more consistent rhythm over 70 minutes than they managed over the past two weekends.
They were the neighbour you wouldn’t allow walk your dog the way they were losing leads – nine points in the first game and almost lost a similar one on Sunday afternoon.
All of which will give great heart to Limerick who on the face of it they have more heart than Clare showed and crucially, they have players to come in from the bench who can and have made the difference between winning and losing.
Galway are a team of all the talents – from Daithi Burke to Gearoid McInerney to Joe Canning and the 6’5” match winner Johnny Glynn.
Yet the first three of these are clearly carrying injuries – McInerney wasn’t able to take part on Sunday while Burke and Canning both defied the odds and logic in lining out.
None is playing to his true form and against as genuine a squad as John Kiely’s, Galway can’t afford to idle when in front like a ‘jibbing horse’.
The All Ireland final will round off arguably the most glorious ever hurling season and I expect an action-packed denouement worthy of such an August setting.
Galway will start as favourites – but where will they end? Kilkenny rattled them and they survived, Clare also rattled them and they limped to victory at the second time of asking.
Donoghue must make sure they don’t get into a “third time lucky” situation because sooner or later Lady Luck turns her back on every team.
Team of the Week – The Irish Ladies Hockey team may have failed at the final hurdle but what a roller-coaster ride they gave us to take silver at the World Cup behind the Netherlands. And all on a shoestring budget.
Quote of the Week – “We’ll now have to win an Ulster Final to get to an All Ireland Final.” – A succinct way of putting it by Darren Hughes on Monaghan’s next task against Tyrone this Sunday.
Performance of the Week – Having appeared to lose their way by allowing Kerry to ‘steal’ a draw in Clones in the previous Super 8 contest, Monaghan surprised everyone, but particularly Galway, by winning on a double-scores margin (0-16 to 0-8) in Salthill last Saturday night.
Loss of the Week – David Clifford scored 2-6 as Kerry accounted easily for 14-man Kildare in Killarney by day’s end, but it is our loss that we won’t see the 19-year-old again until 2019. What other sports hides away its stars for such long periods?
Wally of the Week – Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho who I expect to receive an OBE (Out Before Easter) award this season. He hasn’t stopped whining since pre-season started about his players and his club. I thought a manager was employed to back his squad and his employers, not undermine them.
PJ Cunningham is a former sports editor with the Evening Herald, Irish Independent and Sunday Tribune in Dublin. He was part of the Offaly senior football squad in the late 1970s under Eugene McGee and served as a selector for Wicklow for three years (2015-2017).