Niall McCoy's Blog – Ulster final teams named
The Ulster final teams were named and, on seeing them, Niall McCoy dropped everything and penned this blog in reaction to what he sees some managerial hijinks. For McCoy, teamsheets aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
The teams for this year’s Ulster final are as follows:
Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, D O’Hagan, D Hughes, D Gordon, A Brannigan, A Rogers, K McKernan, D O’Hare, M Poland, A Carr, B Coulter, C Laverty, E McCartan.
Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, R Kavanagh, N Gallagher, D Walsh, R Bradley, M McHugh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.
By Niall McCoy
I WAS down in the heartland of south Down last night when I was shown a text containing the Mourne team that had been just announced. Iphones don’t automatically convert a list of names into team layout so it took me a few seconds to work out who was playing where. And then I had a wee chuckle to myself.
I don’t know what James McCartan is planning in terms of tactics this weekend against Donegal, although I would hazard a guess that it may be one of the most defensive minded strategies ever seen in red and black, but his listed teamsheet still had an air of mischief about it.
Danny Hughes at wing back? Dan Gordon at centre half-back? Kevin McKernan in the middle? Donal O’Hare in the half-forward line? It’s very, very unlikely that all these lads will feature in those designated positions.
So, if that hunch is right, why would McCartan do it? To put it simply, I think he probably did it for a laugh. He knows more and more teams release false teams and the chances of making a clever masterstroke are slimmer. The opposition no longer treat the team named on the Thursday or Friday as gospel, so he just decided to have a bit of fun with it.
I don’t see a massive advantage in teams releasing false teams. Maybe if a player has made a miraculous recovery or a star man has been injured on the quiet, it could be cute – but there is so little stock in teamsheets these days that it’s very hard to out-wit your opponent with a ploy like that. Moles and spies are everywhere too, so if you have a player back from injury, chances are the team you’re playing know that too.
As a journalist it’s a minor inconvenience. Usually our pens never leave the table until a few minutes into the game with the first incident of note, but now we can’t be as lazy and spend the first five minutes trying to work out who is in and who is playing where.
As a fan, it’s more a nostalgia thing. Recently I found a load of old match programmes I had collected as a young Armagh fan growing up. On a number of them, beside forwards’ names, there was a few vertical strokes indicating their points tally.
Today, some of the main men in games don’t even make the matchday squad in the programme but end up starting, which would lead to all sorts of scribbling on the programme to accommodate all the switches. And back in the day very few corner-backs had that point or points tally beside their name, they do now.
Match programmes may be a small part of the GAA, but they are an important part – they should be respected by counties. At the moment, they offer little more than something to read at the interval.