Like the Late, Late Toy Show, the appearance of all these temporary skating rinks, hairshirt budgets and the return of Operation Freeflow, County Secretary Sean Feeney’s annual pronouncements have become part of the jolly pre-Yuletide landscape. The Indo has a piece this morning summarising (in a scrupulously fair manner, no doubt – this is the Indo we’re talking about after all) the main tidbits in Sean’s report to next week’s annual convention meeting. I should say that I haven’t seen (or indeed don’t know how one would get one’s hands on) Sean’s full report so what follows is based solely on the Indo’s summation of the County Sec’s words.
As I noted around this time last year, Sean’s take on things tends to be a mixture of the staggeringly obvious and the more insightful, with a bit of controversy thrown in for good measure and this year’s version appears to be along the same lines. The Indo’s headline, understandably, focuses on his rather harsh criticism of the manner in which we lost to Meath back in August. He apparently describes that performance as a “total collapse” and says that the way we lost the game was “inexcusable”. That’s a bit over the top, I reckon.
Sure, the last ten minutes of that game was hugely painful from our perspective but in the team’s defence it needs to be recognised that we had already endured three or four Thierry Henry-esque injustices at that stage (which, taken together, represented a ten-point swing to the Royals) and our two most potent forwards had both gone off injured by then. The heads dropped, for sure, and the way we let an average Meath team steam past us was hugely depressing but I’m not sure the kind of criticism that Sean doles out is really warranted at this point and I’m not sure what’s to be gained from it either. For my money, if anyone still deserves a shoe up the hole at this remove, it’s that clown Jim Kilty for coming out a few days before the game with that asinine, self-serving nonsense about how we were the fittest team he’d ever seen. I’d say the Meath lads are still cracking their holes laughing about that one.
Sean puts forward a number of proposals in his report which are worth a mention, such as cutting inter-county panels to 24 (I don’t see the point in that, seeing as your first team is essentially a group of twenty players; four more doesn’t leave you much to fall back on) and reducing the time off for inter-county players from 13 to 7 days (which, to my mind, would be absolute madness – especially if your panel size is only 24 to start with. A lack of joined-up thinking there, Sean). I think he’s right, though, to propose that we have fewer of those aimless challenge matches and that the inter-county championship season needs to be compressed. For the life of me, I cannot understand how the Connacht championship – which involves only seven teams – lasts from the start of May to the second half of July every year.
Speaking of which, that same article in the Indo provides details of next year’s Connacht championship, which starts on May 2nd and ends, all of eleven weeks later, on July 18th. Our match against Sligo has apparently been shifted back a day to Saturday, 5th June, to facilitate live TV coverage (on RTE) and it’ll now be an evening throw-in – probably 5 pm, I guess, like the Roscommon match was earlier this year. I’m not a fan of these Saturday evening championship games: summer football should, to my mind, occur in the middle of the afternoon on Sundays but I haven’t the time nor the inclination to rouse myself into a middle-aged rant about this now. The Indo also reports that, should we progress to the Connacht final, all three of our provincial championship ties next year will be televised live but that’s only of interest to those of you who aren’t planning to be there to see it all for real.