Shooting outside the box
LOCKDOWN has created some mental challenges for us. Time on our own has forced us to address some difficult issues. For me, one of those was watching archive footage of Tyrone winning three All-Ireland titles. I remember when there was no Sam in Tyrone. Perhaps the conclusion I should draw is that my life isn’t as stressful as that of some other people. But I’ve chosen to infer that in those days football was easier. We all remember Owen Mulligan’s double-dummy in 2005 against Dublin. There are plenty who might argue that he only had two men to beat to get that goal. Which forwards get that sort of space these days? Mugsy’s goal is regarded as one of the very best because of the spectacle, it’s one of the most thrilling passages of football. But those days are gone. Thrilling in football now is long-range points pinged over from the sideline, not hand-passing our way to palming the ball to the net. Long distance shooting is the great skill. And in order to reward that skill, then perhaps long-range points should be worth more, like shots from outside the perimeter in basketball.
Funding issue not going away
SUNDAY World sports journalist Sean McGoldrick is a good man for keeping track of where Croke Park’s money is going. This week he printed the figures for the 10-year period between 2010 and 2019 and to the shock of few, Dublin were well out in front with €22,184,209 million euro sent their way. Cork, who were second, were a long way back on €13,708,028. That in itself is a huge gap but when you compare Dublin’s figure to Fermanagh’s €3,733,662 then it really becomes alarming. Ulster counties fared quite poorly overall. Of the 36 county boards, including New York, London, Lancashire and Warwickshire, six of the nine counties were in the bottom half. Interestingly, if you took the 2019 figures alone, Cork actually were top of the list while Croke Park have committed to helping Fermanagh redevelop Lissan. So maybe some things are changing.
A proper doping system that works
THERE is a frisson of intrigue when a drugs story breaks in the GAA. Part of me feels like we are reading proper journalism when we hear reportage on men who have been found to have illegal substances in their system. It gets the blood pumping, EPO-riddled or otherwise. But for me, drug stories in the GAA are low rent and unlikely to extend to more than one or two guys who want to get a personal edge (which is very wrong of course). For a proper doping system to work in team sports, it needs to be orchestrated to a very high level. For those of us who don’t have a large word count to fill, Lance Armstrong is a quick example. Armstrong’s system worked because he had money behind him but also he had the buy-in from some around him. Similarly, if you watch Icarus on Netflix you can see how the Russian doping system worked so well because it was orchestrated on a massive scale. I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen in the GAA, but for it to work effectively, you’d have to get most, if not all, of 24-man panel to buy in, You’d have to get the funding for the drugs, and also the system to cover it up. When some county footballers complain that they can’t get 40p per mile for diesel, I would wonder how they would react to being told that the county board are paying for illicit drugs that they have to inject every couple of weeks?
A problem coming down the tracks
STORMONT this week said that Leo Varadkar had not consulted them before mapping out how Ireland could potentially come out of lockdown, and that could present a massive problem for the GAA. Boris Johnson is expected to do likewise this weekend, and the north’s six counties will be under that jurisdiction. So what if the June date proposed for the south is weeks before similar activity is permitted on the other side of the border? What if a club in Donegal is free to train but a few miles down the road a Derry club isn’t? The inter-county game in particular could be impacted by this, so we really must hope that there was more communication than is being made out.