Time to address the ideology of football – Brolly
ON MONDAY morning, as the Derry County Board were deciding whether to withdraw from all senior inter-county competitions for the foreseeable future, I ran into an eminent QC from County Down.
“It’s all got so dull and serious,” he ranted. “Derry players being interviewed before the game saying that it wasn’t about entertainment, but about results! We have lost the run of ourselves.”
His point was that the win at all costs mentality is the default position of professional sport. It should not be the guiding principle of the GAA. In that vein, I was interested to hear Offaly manager Tom Coffey’s remarks after the Kildare machine rolled over them at the weekend.
“I don’t think we could afford to get to Kildare’s level,” he told the assembled press pack.
Kildare, like the other elite teams, are approaching Gaelic football in the way that the South Africans or Munster approach rugby. As a result, they are now destroying teams that once competed against them. So, while Donegal were flattening Derry with a frankly awesome performance of power, confidence, concentration and attention to fine detail, Kildare were doing the same to Offaly.
Which poses a crucial philosophical question about sport and how we should approach it. The Irish soccer team’s European campaign has been a perfect illustration of the dilemma. With five minutes to go in Gdansk against Spain, trailing 4-0, the noise in the stadium suddenly went off the charts.
Only it wasn’t the Spanish supporters. It was ours. As the ground shook to a deafening rendition of The Fields Of Athenry, Peter Drury, the ITV commentator, was momentarily bewildered.
“The Spanish are… it’s the Irish, they’re singing… and the Spanish are clapping along.”
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday June 21. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here