Marty missing Melbourne

It’s hard to know what to make of Marty Clarke’s outburst about the conditions at McHale Park on Saturday night and his observation – a rather transparent case of stating the bleedin’ obvious – that Mayo in February pales by comparison to Melbourne.

I guess, to be fair to the lad, once you get a whiff of that kind of life in your nostrils – and Clarke was clearly valued as an exciting prospect Down Under – coping with the reality of league football on a wet night in early February on this side of the planet is always going to make you yearn for what must seem like an idyllic existence over there.  Marty won’t be the first person in history to dream about greener grass on the other side of the hill.

The odd thing, though, is that he’s now back a while from Australia and he played for Down for all of last year’s league campaign so it’s not as if he doesn’t know about the conditions a man is likely to encounter playing football at this time of year.  And he would, I’m sure, have been aware that it pissed down rain right across the country for all of Friday night and a good bit of Saturday, which meant they was a good chance that you might encounter a puddle or two around McHale Park that evening. (If he’d travelled down via Ballymoe he’d have seen plenty of water, with the Suck having burst its banks leaving the road to Castlerea perilously close to being engulfed).

I think he’s right about the playing surface, which looked poor enough (and I see that Mark Ronaldson concurs with Marty on this point) but, again, this is early February after one of the harshest winters we’ve had in decades so it can’t be a huge surprise that the pitch was difficult to play on.

He also has a point where he bemoans the small attendance and, as one of the lads on gaaboard.com said, the crowd (which numbered a bit over 6,000) looked significantly smaller on television than it did being there on the night.  It was, though, a far bigger crowd than you’d get if the match had been played the following afternoon and while Marty can sigh all he wants about playing in front of 60,000 punters, Saturday night’s encounter was never going to be a sell-out occasion.

The hard truth for Marty is that much of the league is played out in front of small crowds in conditions that aren’t exactly conducive to flowing football.  That’s just the way it is and while we’d all love to be watching league football being played in weather like they have in Melbourne, that ain’t going to happen any time soon.  Marty will, however, get to play in one glamour fixture in this year’s NFL campaign as the Mournemen are due to face the Dubs under the lights at Croke Park on 2nd April.  That one may draw the 60,000 crowd that Marty aches for and his side will need him to be in top form that evening too in what should be an interesting tussle between the two nearly teams of 2010.  There’ll be precious little time for mooning about Melbourne when that one comes around but, of course, that’s providing he hasn’t packed his bags and headed off back to the Antipodes by then.

14 thoughts on “Marty missing Melbourne

  1. I,d say a reporter making a story out of a throwaway comment. I,m sure a few backs would like to see him heading for Oz again, including Ger Cafferky!!!…

  2. Agree with ya there Hop it, i think it’s just some jurno trying to fill up a few colum inchs.

  3. In fairness to him the ground was awful dead the last day. No bounce at all, caught out a lot of players in the first half.
    But not too much you can do about the weather

  4. The reactions on Twitter to Marty Clarke’s comments are interesting. They seem to be split 50/50 with footballers agreeing about the surface and others taking a generally “how dare you say that about our new stadium” line. And the point is well made that it could have been a comment that was blown up by a journalist just to make a story. But in the reaction, we might all be missing the point of the actual issues raised by Marty Clarke’s comments.

    The first refers to the fact is that the pitch is a poor one to play on. I know that the cold weather broke up the surface and the sand is there to stop it cutting up more, but it has been mentioned before that there is far too much sand on the surface. And from the reactions today, the Mayo players agree with this. This has to get sorted.

    But it is the second issue that is the most interesting. Marty Clarke’s return from Oz has seen a rise in Down’s footballing fortunes. Promotion from Division 2 and a place in the All Ireland was a good return for a county of whom little was expected in 2010. And Marty Clarke was hugely instrumental in that. It is natural for him to think that Down would progress from there and go further in 2011. In the first half of the game last Saturday, Marty was showing that normal service had resumed and he gave Ger Cafferky a torrid time. But in the second half, Mayo took the game to Down and suddenly they were stopped in their tracks. Marty didn’t expect this, he didn’t like it, he was pissed off that he was powerless to do anything about it, and he began to have dark thoughts about returning to Oz.

    I actually think that this is a testament to the way Mayo played in the second half. We got nine scores to their three (albeit one of them was a goal) and the Star of the County Down was dimmed through being starved of the ball. This is exactly what is needed from here on. We need to stop showing so much respect to the big names, shut them down and then continue to pick off scores like we did on Saturday after the lads had their half time Jaffa cakes.

    Next up Kerry. They have a Star as well!

    Keep the Faith!

  5. Just booked the first two weeks of March in sunny Newry where the average temerature is in the mid 30Cs Also booked a pair of tickets for the all seater roof covered stadium and look forward to the party as we eat burgers from the back of the pick up truck in the car park amongst the 50,000 plus crowd. Must bring some ice and keep the beer cool.

    Clarke wrote that pile of s*** on his own column, not a throw away remark as suggested that was picked up by a reporter. What did he expect in Mayo in early Feb, Bondi beach and balloons. Now if a Mayo man said such idiotic shite the media would go into a frenzy!

  6. Tounge-in-cheek comments
    1 – wondering was the weather a factor in BJP moving from Mayo to Armagh
    2 – would love if we had the same problem with Pearse Hanley writing some ‘filler’ about how bad the pitch was.

    All a load of ******

  7. Given the money spent the pitch is a disgrace. The new surface was heralded before the County Final.

    As for the crowd – this group of players humiliated the county last Summer. They have to do something to encourage people out. James Horan deserves support and patience but for once the players need to answer the hard questions and give us oerformances we are proud of. The comeback on Saturday is the same as so many league campaigns – why not focus from the start?

  8. Any word on Friday nites team?
    Its a good fixture to give some new lads a chance.
    Lets keep the winning run going.
    Someone mentioned Pierce Hanley. Any news about him? hows he doing? Any chance of him doing a Tadgh Kennelly on it?

  9. No word yet on the team for tomorrow night but if I get the details I’ll put them up here. I haven’t heard much recently about Pierce Hanley either, certainly nothing to indicate that he’s considering returning home. Not at this this time of year, at any rate!

  10. If the money hadn’t been spent on the pitch, there is no way the old pitch would have held up to a match the last night with all the rain. There wouldn,t be many pitches in the county playable. He should give Lee keegan a run at CHB, tomorrow night to see is he good enough!!

  11. Hes prob looking for more money to stay…somebody somewhere is giving him some cash you would have to imagine and hes sending out a warning sign, more cash or else. Pity he had to mouth off about it but he IS a damn fine footballer!

  12. In fairness lads I’m no groundsman but have been up and down South Munster on rugby pitches over the past few months and they are all in shite, including “professional” ones such as Musgrave Park.
    I heard Austin Stack in Tralee was poor as well, full of sand which is all the groundsman can do to hope to have any grass to grow from March on. There’d be some bitching if it was in shite in June like Croker was a few years ago because they mistreated it during the winder

  13. I’d have to agree and disagree with Marty Clarke here.

    Having lived in Melbourne for 30 years, i’d agree it is the greatest city in the world.

    But having lived in Melbourne, you also learn from a young age, that all Collingwood players and supporters are idiots and their opinions aren’t worth a thread from Paul Galvins Pink Scarf!

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