THE marketing was perfect and the results of the corporate endeavour could be found all around Croke Park in the early morning sunshine. Busload after busload of young footballers marched in orderly lines to the entrance gates. A full house, a series beautifully poised and a build-up that ensured there was sulphur in the air. Perfect?
Hardly. When the ball was thrown in for last Sunday’s match I counted six different rows/brawls/fights/incidents. It hardly took ten minutes to derail the International Rules series as we know them and though we will probably see them again, the locals will never again be fooled so easily.
And the strange thing is this: the Australians did not need to use their bullyboy tactics at the opening; their skill and application would easily win the day, if they played football only.
And let us say this: as the midland’s judge once noted, there was badness on both sides. I have seen worse but only in flashes (this statement of intent took, as noted, ten minutes or so, to conclude). Remember Omagh last Spring and our battle with Meath in 1996? Some serious kicking and thumping then. A few suspensions were handed out and some of them were over-turned. As suspensions routinely are in the GAA.
It is a long-standing argument of mine: our association, at all levels, is ambivalent when it comes to violence and indiscipline on our own playing fields. I can only conclude it is a deep-rooted GAA thing. So, as others mentioned on Sunday, it is a little hypocritical if we attempt to inhabit the rarefied atmosphere of the high moral ground and apportion all the blame to our visitors.
The game itself? Once the shock abated and the game was allowed to flow it became obvious this Australian side had improved considerably from the opening rubber. Using GAA scoring methods instead of the IR method (goals and points as distinct from goals and overs) the game finished 3-15 for Australia against 0-7 for Ireland. A hammering? You got it in one.
Ireland never led and the lead went from +6pts to Oz at the end of the first quarter, to +11 pts by the second and +37 pts when the siren ending the third quarter sounded. Any questions class? Didn’t think so.
A few observations though: Never have a sanction you are not willing to administer. Either use the red card for what it was designed for or lose it. When a yellow card is flashed the player is sent to the sin-bin but is NOT replaced. Does anybody really believe allowing a player to replace another is a sanction? In this type of game?
Sort out the refereeing situation. Why was Pat McEneaney taken off the roster? Leaving one half of the pitch to each referee needs to be changed; the bias is so obvious as to be funny.
And that’s it done for at least another twelve months. We will all forget about it in a week or so but I have a feeling Nicky Brennan and Sean Boylan might have a problem letting their names be associated with Sunday’s farce.
BALLAGH’ SUFFER MORE HEARTBREAK
WHEN Ballaghaderreen last contested a county senior final they found themselves up against Ballina Stephenites. The year was 1985 and they had a formidable team. Noel Durkin and Dermot Flanagan led the side with back-up from some very experienced former county men and talented club players. We had not won the Moclair Cup for many years and we travelled to Charlestown more in hope than expectation.
But we won it with a most peculiar scoreline: 4-2 to 1-10. In other words, 6 scores to 11 scores. I have no doubt the border town club often reflect on that final as one that got away; a man might play a lot of football over a long career and never come across such a result.
Last week Ballagh’ had their hands on the cup again but a little bit of McDonald and Gardiner brilliance prised them off. Was it the innocence of an inexperienced team or just the imagination of the Mayo duo mentioned above that produced the freak result, a draw deep into injury time? A bit of both perhaps.
Both sides returned on Sunday to get a final result. Though up in Croker, we kept in touch and the updates were very positive. Another superb game, full of scoring and another tight finish. But this time Crossmolina deservedly went home with the Moclair Cup and who will bet they cannot go further in a club competition they are most comfortable in?
Connacht will be tighter than it has been in recent years with Ros’ (St Brigid’s) and Galway (Corofin) particularly dangerous. But the sensible gambling money (is there any such thing?) will be on the Mayo champions now that they have emerged successfully from the most difficult of domestic championships.
NO dates yet for the hearing involving the Connacht Council and the bold dog that held up the first International Rules Test in Galway. Both parties had a week to dwell on matters and when I bumped into the Secretary at the 2007 Championship draw he was still feeling the after effects. He informed me he had written a letter (to himself) on behalf of the dog confirming no lasting injury (to the Secretary!) and the accidental nature of the collision.
It appears he (the Secretary) is willing to drop all charges. The dog could not be contacted to ascertain his position in the controversy but informed sources believe the Council has muzzled him and both sides will issue no further comment.
The hand injury did not help matters at the championship draw. With only three canisters in the draw-drum, viewers were looking forward to a ‘vigorous shake’ but it appears Mayo and Galway just could not be separated. That dog has a lot to answer for. Next week: Man bites dog...
LAST week we asked you what should happen when this scenario unfolds: A team manager has moved on to the field of play and, annoyed by the manner in which one of his players was tackled, decides to strike the offending player. The referee issues a red card to the manager and asks him to leave the field of play. Did the ref get it right?
As the man might say: ‘He got it half right’, which essentially means he got it wrong! Cards (‘black’, yellow and red) can ONLY be used to indicate a sanction against a PLAYER. This week we want to look at what happens when a player who charges his opponent in the back and has his number noted for committing an aggressive foul (he is shown the ‘black card’). Is he entitled to know his number has been noted?