Open wide now …

Late start today due to two hours spent in the dentist’s chair this morning, which left me with a numb jaw, a slightly drunken gait and a considerably lighter wallet. Okay, let’s get to it as there’s quite a bit to cover.

The Mayo News is the obvious place to start. Johnno says he was “gutted” by the result on Sunday, hardly surprising given (a) the manner in which we lost and (b) Donegal are the Herrin Gutters – after all, it’s what they do and they sure did it to us. The Boss makes the point that on Sunday we corrected the problem we had against Donegal last year – where we started slowly in both matches – but he’s clearly rueful of the fact that we didn’t close the deal.

Interestingly, the issue of the amount of added time played comes up again in Johnno’s comments. This time The Deputy feels there was too much time added on (so did I, from my standpoint up on the cold concrete seating – my posterior was positively glacial by then) whereas against Derry he was adamant that the full-time whistle came too soon. He also has a few things to say about the ref and, for a while yesterday, I was of a mind to have a nice, therapeutic rant about our friend Mr Duffy as well. My time in the dentist’s chair has, however, calmed me and so I’ll restrict myself to pointing out that he’s the same gentleman who made a total pig’s ear out of reffing last year’s Munster final.

There’s more about Sunday’s match in the Mayo News, in the form of Mike Finnerty’s match report and Sean Rice’s column. The latter reckons that the final ball from Eamon McGee not only hit the net, it also “sank, sickeningly, into the pit of every Mayo stomach”. I dunno about that: I didn’t see that many ball-shaped bellies on the way out of McHale Park and I haven’t noticed anything yet with an O’Neills brand on it emerging from you-know-where.

Away, at last, from the Donegal game, it appears that Ronan McGarritty will be fit to play for Ballina in Sunday’s All-Ireland club semi-final clash with Nemo. If they win on Sunday, there’s no chance we’ll see Ronan back until after the final (by which time we’ll have played both Laois and Kerry in the league). A teentsy-weentsy bit of me wouldn’t be crying bucketloads, I must admit, if Ballina were to fall at this penultimate hurdle. Apart from strengthening the county panel, it would also resolve that potential conflict of interest I’ve mentioned in the past (though, of course, if Vinnies take the hop too on Sunday that would sort it as well).

The ladies got the bejaysus battered out of them by the Kerry belles in their opening league fixture at the weekend. Well, at least now they know what the lads have been through. Apparently, it was a team shorn of almost all the regular panel members and it was, of course, a team that doesn’t yet have a manager. Take a bow, Ms Caroline Brogan – in your short time as County Board Chairman, you’ve already left an indelible mark on women’s football in the county.

Elsewhere – and breaking news this is – RTE have claimed victory in the battle to secure the rights to the remaining Championship fixtures that Croke Park was dangling in front of them and TV3 and the others. Here’s RTE’s self-congratulatory announcement about the outcome of the process: can those guys ever talk about themselves without bringing up all that usual bollocks about public sector broadcasting?

Cork. Hmmm, it’s all over and not before time too. Fair play to Teddy Holland’s two selectors who steadfastly refused to fall on their swords and instead made those clowns in the county board do the dirty work themselves. Very few of the dramatis personae of this particular farce come out of it with their reputations enhanced but you have to have sympathy with Teddy Holland and his team. More breaking news: Conor Counihan has been appointed as the new Cork bainisteoir. Watch your back, there, Conor boy.

Also on Cork, I see that Meath and Dublin are now refusing to refix those postponed league ties. Quite right too – Cork failed to show up when those matches were supposed to be played and it was an utter cop-out on the GAA’s behalf to declare the matches as postponed in the first place. Cork should have forfeited the points for both games – that would have concentrated the players’ minds on their return from the picket line – and it would be a complete travesty were Meath and Dublin now to face sanctions for telling the rebelling Rebels where to get off. This particular hot potato has now been handed to the CCCCCCCCCCCCCC (or something like that) to resolve tonight.

Finally, it now seems certain that relations are, indeed, to be resumed with our pugilist-minded Antipodean friends. A whole list of changes to the playing rules and to disciplinary procedures have apparently been agreed with the Aussies (though, it would seem, not with any accompanying sidebar deal to limit poaching of GAA starlets). So, no more GBH, assault and battery or reckless endangerment on the field of play. I dunno: it all still smells of poo to me and not that cute Kaola bear stuff either. No, this one is a great big, stinking Kangaroo turd and I, for one, think we’ve reached the time where we need to tell our Aussies friends to take a hop.

4 thoughts on “Open wide now …

  1. And The Oscar goes to …..

    With the Oscars coming up, my mind drifted last evening to the Mayo team and how many of our fine crop would gain the top prize if there was a category for Best Performance in a Leading Role by a Gaelic Footballer.

    What is this guy on, you may ask? OK, let me explain.

    You see, the teams that have won All-Irelands in recent years all have leaders within their ranks. These guys take responsibility when required. They produce the big performance when the tide seems to be against them. They inspire their teammates and turn the game around when the going gets tough. If they were in the position we were in last Sunday, they would have committed the foul that would have forced the “have-to-score-direct” free and the point that would not have been enough to win the game for Donegal. In other words, they would provide leadership.

    Our squad consists of a fine and talented bunch of footballers. Individually, they would make their way onto most of the top panels in Ireland. On their day, they can produce little shimmies and superb touches that leave us and the opposition spellbound. In the Gaelic Football Oscars however, they would be nominated in droves for Best Performance in a Supporting Role – but rarely, if ever for the gong for the Leading Role.

    This is why we look so much to David Brady. As a leader, he stands out. Look at the way he put manners on the Dubs in 2006. Heaney can lead too – remember the burst up the field that gave us the point that saved us in the drawn game against Fermanagh in 2004. There were others too, Kevin O’Neill refused to lie down in face of the Kerry onslaught in 2006, scoring two goals and making another. Sadly, these are all of the older vintage. However, I did see a spark of it in young Parsons on Sunday. Maybe, just maybe…..

    I am happy that we have, in the current bunch, the players necessary to technically take on anybody, but I don’t think we have the leadership on the field. It was truly absent in the last minute of the game on Sunday. Someone should have taken the responsibility and committed the foul. It’s not pretty, but no one ever said it has to be!

    So is there any Mayo footballer out there of whom we will be saying “And the Oscar goes to ……..!

    Keep The Faith!

  2. No Oscar recipients spring to mind at the moment, FourGoal, though Sunday’s reversal, and the way they respond to it the next day, should tell us something about who is capable of taking on a leadership role in the team.

    It is a concern alright that all the names that spring to mind are those who probably won’t feature again in the team or those who are close to the end of their county careers. We need to see some of the younger guys stepping up to the plate over the rest of the league.

  3. I agree with Four Goal. Sad thing is we never learn. In the 2001 Connacht final we tried to be cavalier at the end when the ball should have been driven into the nearby cemetary. Result being Ros came up the field and drilled a goal into the corner where Ray Connelly should have been guarding. Funny that he was sent off in the wrong. Can any one tell me why Barrett was sent off on Sunday. We seem to be an easy mark for refs to blow tough with and be made examples off. I recall James Gill being sent off against Fermanagh in th All Irl semi of 2004 for nothing as well. Strange then when certain Dublin players nearly decapitate their opponents with short arm taclkles the refs get very shy. I would like the sheep that is our county board to let the referee supremos know that we have had a bellyful of poor refereeing decisions. Three minutes extra time is three minutes…not four as evidenced last Sunday.

  4. Too right – maybe I should have had that rant yesterday about the ref!

    I know I’m biased but I do feel we get the rough end of the stick from refs more often than not. I’d question why someone like Martin Duffy, from a neighbouring county and so not necessarily well-disposed towards us, should have been given the game in the first place. Plus, he’s a total tool as I referenced in the post. I’ve no idea why Chris Barrett was sent off and I hadn’t even noticed he’d been booked earlier so that wasn’t for anything serious either. And, of course, he should have sent off one of the Donegal lads earlier on but forgot that he had booked him already. Any sign of a sanction from HQ for that? Thought not.

    I remember that Fermanagh game in 2004 too but I recall more clearly the replay when John Bannon allowed Fermanagh to pull and drag off us all day. It was as if the fairytale had to be kept going at all costs (maybe it would have been better, in retrospect, if this had been allowed to happen!). Then there was Michael Collins in that year’s Connacht final who apparently took the view that Ros needed every decision to go their way at the start of the second half just to make a game of it, like. And, of course, that’s without mentioning Salthill last year – don’t get me going on that again!

    I think we need to get DB in as coach on how to handle refs. Do you remember when he came on in 2006 against the Dubs, landed Whelan on his arse and then turned around and bollocked the ref out of it for having the temerity to challenge him on what he’d just done. We could do with a bit more of this (both the initial challenge and what to do when the ref gets on your case).

    I also agree with you that, in the big games, the refs will always shy away from punishing the big teams. This applies to Kerry as well as the Dubs – remember Munster in 04 when a Limerick corner back had the Gooch in his pocket, to the extent that the Gooch took a swing at him. The ref did nothing and instead sent your man off for a later altercation. Cooper, of course, went on to run riot and was eventually named MOTM. One law for one etc etc.

    Johnno should probably do the talking on this one, though not just when we lose, as it would only come across as whinging.

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