Larry McCarthy, president of the GAA has to be a good man. He is undoubtedly a great GAA man, or he would not have risen to the top of the greatest sporting organisation in the world. Larry has succeeded in implementing the new ‘split season’, whereby the All-Ireland series was concluded in July, with the remainder of the summer reserved for club activities. He is very adamant that the current system will stay in place. Many believe it needs a bit of tweaking.
An T-Uasal McCarthy wrote a piece in the All-Ireland match day programme where his criticism of those who aren’t altogether happy with the present format was rather rancid. I know the changes were voted on by Central Council and democracy is democracy; but there is still something not quite right here. Those who believe that the changes were ‘overdone’ are also good GAA people and their reservations should not be so summarily dismissed.
If the new arrangement was altered a little by extending the championship into the third week of August it would be better for all concerned; and remember there are only four counties left in each code at the semi-final stage – and so club competition can be well underway across the country before All-Ireland Sunday.
The clubs would still have a sufficient portion of the split season in which to finish their championship. After all, the All-Ireland Football Final used to be played on the third Sunday in September and most often October provides better hurling conditions than does March or even April.
Larry McCarthy is passionate about the split season – and he is right; but whilst the compressed inter-county competition currently in place has been put under strain, how much is the club scene benefiting from the change this year?
Those of us present in Clonkill on Monday evening were treated to a marvellous game of hurling. Lough Lene Gaels edged out champions Raharney by a single point in a thriller. The match was played in glorious sunshine before a decent sized crowd.
When and where it was played mattered little to the supporters of these two great clubs – but it was still played at 7pm on a Monday evening! A Monday evening! Is this what all the fuss about having the All-Ireland finals in July and giving the rest of the Summer to the clubs boils down to, Larry!?
But let us not be churlish about this year’s inter-county fare just because it was more like running 200M hurdles than a 1500 metre race. What an excellent year it has been for Westmeath.
Our footballers winning the inaugural Tailteann Cup was a joy to behold – and there can never be but one first time winner – and that is us! The hurlers draw with Wexford was a tremendous boost for hurling in the county. Well done to both camps and hopefully the successes for 2022 will be built upon for next year.
I never thought I would be so happy to see Meath win another All-Ireland football title! Let us take this opportunity to congratulate the Royal ladies on their fantastic achievement in winning back to back titles, and for what they have done for women’s football. Maybe those girls will inspire their male counterparts – the ‘poor relations’ in their county … but as St Augustine pleaded; ‘not just yet, oh Lord!’
Another thing, Larry: Only for the corruption in FiFA, which enabled Qatar to buy the World Cup; our All-Irelands would also have been clashing with the World Cup Final, as well as a nation holding its breath as Ireland beat the All Blacks in rugby. No, the GAA is not afraid of competition and we will hold our own with any sporting event – but just because you bless yourself with holy water, it doesn’t mean you can walk across the road without looking.
Anyway, where would we be without sport – all sport. The world is teetering on the brink of nuclear war. Covid is still rearing its ugly head. Climate change is already critically changing everything.
In the midst of all this craziness in a world gone mad, sport remains the one constant in our lives. It is a distraction from the perils we fear might be around the next corner, stimulates passions and offers hope of better things to come.
Now, if only Liverpool hadn’t dropped 2 points in their opening Premiership match …
We cannot hide from the fact that there are some dark clouds hanging over sport. Sport is under threat – and it isn’t to do with any of the above perils. Drugs in sport is well highlighted and the battle to keep sport clean goes on. Something we don’t hear mentioned as often, but in a way is sports greatest threat – and that is gambling.
The quietest sport of all must be bowling – you can hear a pin drop.
Image courtesy Meath Ladies