Casement Park smokescreen
A FRIEND of mine used to say that all Derry games should be played in Casement Park so that he didn’t have to make the trip across the Bann to go to Celtic Park or Owenbeg. We live in a society where we prioritise our own needs well before anything else, and as a result common sense is often the first casualty. Last weekend, after the Antrim Tyrone match, journalists decided to divert away from the dissection of the game in search of a meatier topic, and they hit on a rich vein in the form of Casement Park. But the old lady of Andersonstown is such an open net of topic for Cumann Chat. The vast majority want it built, barring those who live in the immediate area, but it is the lack of functioning executive that is holding it up. But what Antrim fans should be angry about is why there is no secondary stadium. Long before they regenerated Casement Park as a wildflower meadow, the county did not have a proper functioning facility in the south of the county. I’ll accept that Dunsilly has taken its sweet time, but why isn’t there a 5,000-plus venue at St John’s, St Enda’s or the like.
Mooney suspension is difficult
I NOTICE that Caolan Mooney’s first appeal route has failed and he’s set to miss Down’s Qualifier clash with Tipperary after the CHC deemed that his infraction against Armagh was ‘proven.’ Unless there was footage not shown on TV angles I’m not sure how they can come to that conclusion. In real time I thought it was a stonewall red but I wanted another look. Twitter was divided, but most were saying it was harsh. When I finally did get round to seeing a re-run, my reaction was ‘how can anyone tell?’ There was no clear angle showing where impact was made and I’m not sure how people felt that they could be so confident in their analysis. If no extra footage existed, then I’m not sure how it could have been proven either.
Tyrone’s tactical revolution is here to stay
SOME people expect Donegal and Tyrone to ‘revert to type’ when they meet in the Ulster Championship semi-final, but I doubt it if the Red Hands’ warm-up against Antrim is any indication. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen so many balls being kicked about the place in my entire life. In Richie Donnelly, Tyrone have one of the best kick-passers in the game, Peter Harte isn’t far behind him, and with the likes of Lee Brennan and Ronan O’Neill out of the picture, I expect them to stick with their new-found tactic of kicking the ball into Cathal McShane.
Time to make your move
SUNDAY’S game between Armagh and Cavan is absolutely huge, even if it’s not season-ending. Whoever prevails can rightly feel that they have taken their game to the next level and will bring real confidence into the provincial final. That can have an impact not only this season, but in the forthcoming years. Both counties have failed to make a dent in Ulster in recent times, especially the Orchard county, so fans of both will travel with real expectancy. The provincial championship may not matter as much for the likes of Tyrone and Donegal anymore, but watch the celebrations at full-time on Sunday in the crowd and then you’ll see that Ulster football still matters.
Too many games?
THE Major League baseball season lasts for 162 games and at the end of that run of matches, they still don’t know who is ‘world champion’. In the American basketball season, each team plays 82 games in the regular season and plays each opponent four times. I’ve been in America for the past fortnight and have been intrigued by how the Yanks decide their champions. In those sports of basketball and baseball where there is supposed to be minimal contact, players are made to play for long seasons. And they are well reimbursed. In the GAA, inter-county players will play between nine and 16 games. At club level, they’ll play another 20 games or so. But will train three times a week for maybe half the year. Baseball and other American sports make a lot of money for their owners. The GAA makes a modest amount of money for clubs and county boards, but even if Gaelic Footballers are enjoying it, should they be spending as much time training, as a baseball player does playing?
McCann has a Case
WHILE the Casement Park saga has been pretty much an embarrassment from start to finish, Michael McCann made a pertinent point in the wake of Antrim’s 14-point defeat to Tyrone. The lack of a proper home stadium sticks in the craw of every Antrim supporter, but McCann’s statement “when Casement was flying high there were still huge problems” is hard to disagree with. Five Ulster Championship wins in 37 years is a fairly sobering stat, but at least the county seems to be getting its act together with Saffron Business Forum already raising £350,000 in just three years.