Tipperary’s win against Galway was a breath of fresh air in so many ways.
Firstly their approach to the game, wanting to win and simply taking the game by the scruff of the neck in order to do so was as far removed from football these days as it is for Joe Brolly to admit he secretly enjoys Tyrone playing football.
Days like that don’t come around too often, Tipperary reaching an All-Ireland semi-final is something they probably didn’t even dare to dream of when they started the year especially after losing so many players to other commitments.
In order to try and lift morale Liam Kearns thought the best way to bring his players together was to “allow” them to have a drink. In the modern intercounty dictatorships, which is also known as management, this is something that generally isn’t the norm.
College sport for me was the one that I always enjoyed the most….granted I was there for a few more years than my parents may have liked but I enjoyed every minute of playing Camogie for UUJ and UCC.
I wouldn’t have made half the friends or had the same craic that I would have if I wasn’t involved playing. We trained three times a week in the rain, hail, snow, muck and gutters.
It was some of the toughest training we have done but because we were able to go and switch off or unwind outside of training it made it less cumbersome.
Training or a match on a Wednesday afternoon followed by a night out meant that a bond developed between the players and the sense of camadarie that you normally only associate with club teams.
From missing teeth to broken trophies, stitches and scars the list is endless and definitely not for a newspaper column but the results were a happy successful team who worked as hard as they played.
Too often drink bans are used as a control method by managers over players, a manager telling you that if you take a drink then it means you don’t want to win enough is simply not true and it shouldn’t be used as a tool to beat players with.
GAA is becoming more and more professional by the year but the more professional it becomes the less enjoyment there is with it.
The demands being put on players and the pressures of sport mean that people are forgetting to have fun along with it.
A manager putting a drink ban in place from May until the championship is asking for trouble, players are people at the end of the day and they should be able to play sport while also letting their hair down from time to time.
I know from experience that drink bans can cause extra pressure on players and unwanted tension in a group and that is before somebody decides to go out for one or two and gets seen up the street.
The next thing you know they are being banished to the sidelines, given two “Hail Marys” and three “Our Fathers” along with the public apology to their teammates having let the team down.
Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate of drinking week in week out and more often than not a player will choose not to drink especially as they get older.
There is no way I could go out on a Saturday night and get up for training on a Sunday morning never mind being fit to train.
Someone telling you not to drink means that if a player does decide to drink they are doing it deceptively and hiding it, this creates a negative feeling around the team and the honesty and respect that a team has for one another will slowly erode.
I don’t doubt that the Tipperary boys enjoyed a few drinks throughout their championship campaign but I also don’t doubt the hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifices they have also made along the way.
We often hear of people defending the actions of players on the field stating that they are amateurs who still have to get up to go to work each morning but a common sense approach to management, allowing players to have balance in life and sport is a crucial element that should not be understated.
In fact if the Liam Kearns’s approach to management is going to take off and socialising is going to become the buzz word of the GAA next year then I may even come out of retirement!