Well-intentioned stupidity?

I’m still scratching my head about all those resolutions on player burnout that were passed at that Special Congress yesterday. You know the one, the event hailed by GAA capo di tutti capi Nickey Brennan as a “spectacular” day for the GAA and, in particular, for clubs. Well, at least that spectacularly idiotic proposal to scrap the Minor and U21 grades got shot down in flames but I’m not sure about how smart all those motions that did get passed will fare out in practice. Putting in place bans on collective training by counties in November and December (is individual weight training outlawed too?) and restricting the sizes of county panels for both the league and the championship don’t sound to me like measures that will do anything meaningful to tackle burnout and will instead either (a) become a complete pain in the hole or (b) be completely ignored by all concerned. Johnno has already come out strongly against the banning of collective training and I think he’s dead right.

Other moves such as playing extra-time in some (though not all) championship games make sense as far as they go (it would have been better to take the power to blow the final whistle away from the ref – that would eliminate 90% of replays straight off) but none of the measures passed will make all the problems go away. Call it shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or squeezing a balloon. Or the phenomenon that economists, in one of their sluttier moments, have described as “the waterbed effect“. There are a few essential root cause issues here which, as long as they prevail, will mean that player burnout and everything that goes with it remains a problem. Every potential solution that doesn’t address the root cause will simply mean that the trouble gets shifted somewhere else.

One fundamental problem has to do with the GAA’s timetable (it’s almost a misuse of that word to describe it thus) and, by extension, the entire structure and organisation of club and county competitions. It’s all over the shop: a Connacht championship, involving seven teams, that takes well over two months to run, weeks of idleness for anyone who falls at the first hurdle, most county teams bone idle from the end of July, the league running too close to the championship, the Sigerson clashing with the resumption of inter-county activity, etc. etc. etc. The second relates to the at times mindblowing ineptitude and lack of organisational know-how in county boards (the terms “piss up” and “brewery” spring to mind) whose games administration ability makes the African Cup of Nations look like a well-run event.

I feel a rant coming on but, although I have the inclination, I don’t have the time right now. Instead, have a read at what Paidi O Se says in today’s Indo. I don’t agree with everything he has to say but his comment about our closed season last year having been the months of August, September, October, November and December hits the nail on the head fairly well, I think. (He also reckons we need a good league run this year to show all and sundry what we’re made of. Fat lot of good that did for us last year, Paidi.)

Crikey – is that the time? The throw-in at Cong is due to take place in five minutes. What bauble is up for grabs this morning, I wonder? Given the location, something like the Ashford Castle Weekend Getaway Special Perpetual Trophy might be appropriate. More later, if I manage to get news of the result.

4 thoughts on “Well-intentioned stupidity?

  1. Down and next weekend

    I was interested in the comments on Down over the last week. I had a look at the Down Vs Derry game myself, more out of interest in the shape of Derry than of that of Down.

    Down were impressive. Their defence is very solid. There was a great series of 3 blocks in succession in the second half. They are very good in possession, they fought for everything and they don’t lose the ball much. Their game relies a lot on the short pass and as a result they coped much better with the windy conditions. Their centre field did well and showed some fine ball winning skills from the high catch. Their forwards were not afraid to shoot and 1-12 on such a windy night is a very good return.

    However, I have reservations about how far they might go this year. Remember Tyrone started last year’s McKenna Cup like a runaway train last year but their season became derailed during the league and never got back on the tracks. Looking at Down at this stage, they have the look of a team playing in May and I wonder what sort of training they have done up to now. Up to this, most teams have been doing the heavy gym stuff. Down clearly have been working on speed and skill. I suspect that Ross Carr is concentrating on getting out of Division 3 of the league this year. Division 3 is an awkward place to be. Most of the teams there reckon that they are really Division 2 teams that just had a bad run last year. They are all looking to get back to Division 2 next year. On the other hand, if you go down to Division 4, you can’t avail of the Championship back door (unless you get to the Provisional Final). Carr will be well aware of that and will be trying to put daylight between them and demotion.
    As a result, I would expect Down to have a good league, get promoted and frighten the bejaysus out of Tyrone (the favourites) in the Ulster Championship. The result however, will depend on how far Tyrone have regressed as much as how well Down have progressed. The next round possibly would be against Armagh (the 2nd favourites) and really – no matter how much you admire Down at this stage – it’s hard to see them beating both of them. And that’s only to get to the Final where either Derry, Donegal or Monaghan (3rd, 4th, and 5th favourites respectively) will most likely await (unless Fermanagh pull off 2 major shocks). As a result 16-1 might be a realist price in these circumstances. But as a long shot?…….Maybe, but I’d probably not be in a rush to Paddy Power!

    And what then of Derry? They were very poor. I think they went almost 40 mins without a score from play and in the entire game only 2 Derry players really troubled Down in front of the posts. The two in question were the Bradleys, Paddy and Eoghan. A couple of other lads had a go as well but these were clearly the two danger men.

    A bit of advice to Johnno for next week – put your 2 tightest markers on these two and match the rest of your backs to the rest of their forwards. That way we can get around the obvious problems we have at full back.

    I believe that we have the ability to beat Derry, but Down did us no favours. A good win for Derry could have left them susceptible to a sucker blow. Unfortunately, Down delivered that blow before we got to them. Paddy Crozier will have learned a good few things from this and will not get caught again. I expect that it will be a difficult encounter in Celtic Park and that we will do well to come away with anything out of it.

    Good news about the Mayo Dublin Club. There is a need for an overall Club Mayo to tap the potential support (vocal and financial) both in Mayo and in centres of population away from the county that have a significant Mayo contingent.
    It seems a bit strange that those interested have to try to get an invite to get in. Maybe the county board is testing the powers of Mayo people to get entry to exclusive events. It looked for a while that those interested would have to employ their finely honed All-Ireland Ticket seeking tactics for this. And while I know Mayo people are good at getting such tickets, there wouldn’t have had much of a return looking for a ticket for this in Kilkenny two days before the event!
    Unless it’s a secret society, a bit of marketing from the Mayo County Board would be advisable, as it could deliver massive return.

    Keep the Faith!

  2. Down will have a mountain (not just the Mourne ones) to climb to get out of Ulster alright but with Tyrone and Armagh no longer the force that they used to be, they can’t be ruled out either. Ulster is probably more open than at any time since the big two started to dominate things and so any of six counties could have a realistic shout this year.

    Derry didn’t look hectic alright last night. Their over-elaboration with the ball was comical at times, especially in the second half, though I think you’re right in saying that Down did us no favours. Paddy Bradley won’t be too unhappy if he sees Liam O’Malley lining out against him after what he did to him last July – I hope Johnno is formulating alternative plans for this.

    BTW, one of the lads involved in the Dublin-based supporters club posted a message on the site last night stressing that all are welcome – with or without an invite – to the launch of the initiative on the 5th. I’m not sure what time throw-in is but more details are sure to filter out over the coming days.

  3. Event starts at 6.30pm in the Garda Club.

    John O’Mahony and Pat Holmes will both be there.

    Anyone looking for that formal invite should e-mail me at clubmayo@gmail.com and I will send one but all are welcome regardless. Should be a good night.

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