It’s Wednesday already and so it’s now a shorter period of time to our next championship game than it is looking back to our last one. Not that we have the option of going back in time, mind, but you know what I mean. Before long it’ll be back once again to MacHale Park for what’s likely to be another bare knuckle ride for us. Hopefully another one where we remain afloat.
Keith Higgins is interviewed in a piece in the Irish Independent today (here) where he calls for an improved performance from the team against Kildare on Saturday. Zippy concedes that there were too many simple errors made in the first half against Fermanagh – he’s man enough to list ones he made himself – and he makes the point that “if we can cut them out we will be in with a shout again the next day”. Which, no doubt, stands to reason.
Stephen Rochford features in the Irish Examiner today (here) in a piece by Mike Finnerty, in which he provides a stout defence of Aidan O’Shea. He calls out Pat Spillane for his OTT reaction to the incident, terming it “unhelpful and unnecessary”. Stephen is far too much the gentleman to add that Spillane’s outburst was also hypocritical, bone-headed and downright stupid but that it surely was too.
The boss goes on to inject some much-needed balance to this particular debate by pointing out that “Mayo players have been on the receiving end of calls that have gone the other way over the years.” Which we undoubtedly have and have got precious little sympathy – not that it’s sympathy we’re after – for. In relation to Aidan he says “In my experience over the last six or seven months, I feel he’s certainly been more sinned against than sinning.” Too true, except the time span is more like six or seven years.
In the same paper, Mike Quirke also deals with the incident in his column (here). He attempts to place it in the wider context of diving in the game, which is all fine and well, but he goes onto bracket what happened with Aidan with the Tiernan McCann hair-rub dive from last year. Comparing the incident involving Aidan and the one relating to the Tyrone lad is, though, a case of apples and bananas, as the two weren’t in any sense comparable.
The bigger beef I’d have with the Kerryman’s line, though, is that the game’s most frequent diver, one J O’Donoghue of Killarney, doesn’t get a mention in his list of examples. The same player didn’t get name-checked either in the course of Spillane’s empurpled splutterings on The Sunday Game. Odd that.
Billy Joe Padden’s piece on the incident in this week’s Mayo News (here) gives a good perspective on it from a player’s point of view. Billy Joe says that issues of this kind have been “part and parcel” of the game for as long as he’s been playing and he reckons that forwards who are being constantly fouled will inevitably go to ground if they feel contact and believe they can get an advantage from it. That doesn’t mean it’s right but it does happen and it’s been happening for years.
Incidentally, Billy Joe was on Off The Ball last night where he expanded further on this point. Liam McHale joined in the discussion as well, where, amusingly, he seemed extremely eager to share with the whole world every tactical thought he could come up with on the drawn Connacht final. Liam doesn’t really have an Off button, does he? And neither does Joe Brolly who was also on air during this segment of the programme, which is here:
Right, that’s your lot for now. I guess we’ll soon have to start thinking about when the teams will be named and all that as the time ticks remorselessly on towards Saturday.