Monday blog – by Ronan Scott
So, now that all the club Championships in the province have thrown in at this stage, I can happily grasp the nettle that is the back door debate.
It seems as though there are as many championship structures in Ulster as there are closing acts for the Olympics, and unfortunately they are equally underwhelming.
Straight knockout’s decline in popularity is akin to the fashion of wearing bell bottoms, and soon only ageing hipsters with bad beards and Volkswagen vans will lament the passing of this once great sporting phenomenon.
At the moment, only in backwards places such as Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh and Antrim, will you find championship matches which are decided on the same day they throw in.
The argument that is made in favour of using some back door, second chance, round robin system is to allow teams to have more games.
It is my understanding that these poor footballers don’t want to listen to bleep tests for months on end, or spend dark January evening’s trudging up some godforsaken hill to spend only 60 minutes getting beaten by St Gall’s or Ballinderry.
Instead, they’d much prefer 120, or even 180 minutes of forlornly chasing leads before they head off to the pub to weep into their warm beer, and complain about what could have happened if the half backs would mark their man on occasion.
That is all well and good, and I’m sure there are many a plucky underdog that has benefited from the opportunity to make up for one bad performance.
But my argument is this: We’ve all had a day at the office which we regret – I still wish I had an opportunity to rethink that lime green suit I wore to work last week – However, life doesn’t work like that, does it?
And with that point in mind, surely we want sport to resemble life as much as possible. Hard work, honesty and leadership are the attributes that we all praise and desire. Unfortunately our sporting heroes are gradually losing many of these ideals, and perhaps the growth of the back door system is a sign of the times.
And that sign says, ‘don’t worry if you don’t play well, you’ll get another chance’. All this means that we can abdicate our responsibilities, and even blame others for first time mistakes.
It also allows the GAA to get extra games on the schedule, and what do more games mean? More gate receipts? More chance of a row? More GAA coverage? All of the above.
Yet the by-product of the back-door system, and I know that the hyperbole is hanging out of me at the moment, is the end of western civilisation as we know it.
Although, on the other hand, the back door kept Newbridge in the Derry intermediate championship at the weekend, so it’s not all bad.