I spent some time earlier on trying to put together a considered piece on the crisis that erupted into the open inside the last 24 hours but, having since watched the RTÉ News item and then Vincent Neary’s frankly embarrassing interview on Newstalk’s Off The Ball programme, I can see that now is not the time for the piece I had in mind. Aside from anything else, events in the unfolding crisis are moving rapidly so it’s best to try to keep up with what’s happening. There’ll be time for reflection further down the road.
The County Board officers are obviously taking the line that there’s a “process” in place to deal with management/player issues and that as far as they’re concerned the crisis has flared up out of the blue. Vincent Neary went so far as to describe it as a “total bombshell”. Both Mike and Vincent were focusing in on the reasons for why the revolt has happened, with the latter confirming that a planned meeting with the players’ representatives would be going ahead this Thursday.
None of this, I’m afraid, is in the least bit credible. This isn’t some kind of family row that can be soothed over by a bit of candid discussion between the Board and the players’ reps. The precise reasons behind what provoked the revolt are likely to come out in time but sitting down trying to “tease out” what these are won’t help solve the immediate problem that’s staring the Board squarely in the face right now.
This is the brutal fact that a large majority of the players have expressed their lack of confidence in the current management and, having done so, it’s all but impossible to see how Noel and Pat can remain in their positions. While many will have sympathy with Noel and Pat (and I’d have some myself) it’s clear that their relationship with the players has been sundered irrevocably and the Board needs to wake up fairly quickly to this fact.
Instead of trying to put this particular Humpty Dumpty back together again, the Board needs to bring Noel and Pat’s tenure to an end as swiftly and humanely as they can, preferably by both tendering their resignations. They then need to move with equal speed in starting the process to identify the best possible replacement. And this time, unlike twelve months ago, there can be no fast ones pulled in the appointment process.
Mike Connelly was correct when he said on that RTÉ piece this evening that “we’re in a bad place” right now. What Mike and his County Board colleagues need to recognise, however, is that it’s up to them to move decisively to get us out of that place and quickly. Otherwise what’s already a bad situation can only get immeasurably worse.