Winning matters more than the spectacle

GAA: Comment

After the horror show a few weeks ago in Croke Park between Dublin and Derry in the National League, opinion is again divided as regards the state of Gaelic football. That game finished 0-8 to 0-4 in Dublin’s favour with many describing it as the worst game of all time. It really upset Joe Brolly who apparently left the game early with his young son such was his disgust at what he was watching.

The following evening on 2fm’s Game On Brolly described the current trend of copycat negative football as “myxomatosis” with terrible football tactics spreading right down to underage teams who would succumb to anything necessary in pursuit of victory. Brolly had a right go at Tyrone manager Mickey Harte who declared that football was about results, not entertaining the public. He also had a pop at young pundits who found the negative tactics and “blanket defence” fascinating. I’m sure Joe watched both the national league semi-finals that were extremely high scoring and entertaining and exciting to say the least, so I find his criticism a little over the top after one dreadful game.

After the semi-finals I wonder was our old tormentor in chief from Kerry around to ask “what do ya think of that Joe Brolly”. Football is a results game and the extremely pressurised environments that managers and players find themselves in make it that way. You will not find a manager holding on to his job if his team are taking a hiding week in week out in pursuit of entertaining the public. If you are in charge of an inter-county team you need to be seriously thick skinned and capable of shrugging off criticism and insults directed at you if things do not go your way.

It is the reason I will never manage at a high level as I would want to confront every critic and query every bad opinion. Social media has a lot to answer for in this regard as there are plenty of keyboard warriors who are brave sitting behind a smartphone or PC willing to have a go at anyone. Some of these message boards where people are free to insult whomever they feel like need some sort of monitoring. There are a lot of such boards solely for the purpose of matters GAA. I happened to stumble across a pretty ignorant insult directed at myself a few weeks ago on one such board, I immediately tried to find out where the culprit was from and wanted to contact him, only for me to realise the message was posted about 10 years ago!

Here is a simple question for all us mad Mayo GAA supporters who are desperate for Mayo to win an All-Ireland. Would you like Mayo to win a bad game or lose a good one? The answer is simple, isn’t it? If Brian McIver brought his Derry team to Croke Park and decided to play an orthodox six backs against six forwards Dublin would have won the game by 30 points, instead they played a very defensive set up with 14 men behind the ball which was not pretty, but they were still in the game with 10 minutes to go. Compare that to Dublin and Mayo in Castlebar when the game was over at half-time, I know I would prefer my team to have a realistic chance with 10 minutes to go at the risk of upsetting the traditionalists or Joe Brolly, instead of losing by 10 or 15 points.

The good guys do win sometimes

Like myself, I am sure many of you tuned in to TG4 to watch the All-Ireland u21 semi finals. It is not very often two underdogs prevail in both semis. Tipperary were super impressive against Dublin. Tipperary are coached by Mickey McGeehan, a former Army officer and now a director at Coaching Ireland, who has worked with Mayo and a lot of their players down the years. Mickey was given the unenviable task by John Maughan of keeping me in line when I was in college in Letterkenny. As a result we have become good friends so needless to say I am delighted Tipperary are through to the final. Mickey is one of football’s good guys and he certainly is working wonders with football in the Premier County. Many of you may also be unaware that Mayo were well represented in that game. Jerome Henry from Castlebar was the man in the middle and I have to say he did very well. I came across Jerome many moons ago while coaching at the school of excellence, little did I know at the time that refereeing would be the path he would choose. I am sure that has been his biggest game to date and he is likely to get many more after his fine performance. Well done Jerome.

Roscommon seem to have believed their own hype after they were comprehensively beaten by rank outsiders Tyrone. Roscommon were 4/9 in the bookmakers to win that game. From what I gather it was Dublin that Roscommon were worried about so they obviously took their eye off the ball. I have no doubt word spread around Markiewicz Park last Saturday that Dublin lost to Tipp in Tullamore and the title was there for Roscommon on a plate. It was a vintage Tyrone performance and Roscommon will be wondering what might have been.


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