Within a sporting horizon where #KatieTaylor loses a bout, #Barcelona lose a few matches and it is thus deemed a crisis and Jordan Spieth suffers a wobble similar to yours truly trying to negotiate an ice cream cone and thus surrenders his chances of retaining the #USMasters, should it not be obvious enough that in sport, anything’s possible?
There are perceived certainties, too, mind. Chief among them that certain pundits have a propensity to adopt inflammatory positions on given topics of interest. Indeed, perhaps I fall into that bracket myself at times. Fairly easy to say who the better known ones are – Messrs. Dunphy, Brolly, Hook and McCririck in their given arenas of expertise.
Should Ger Loughnane reside among that ensemble? Maybe. This corner has always had a swell of admiration for the colourful Clareman ever since, when (wrongly in my view) accosted by a microphone emerging from the dressing rooms under the old Hogan Stand and he was asked how he felt the game would pan out. “We’re going to do it” came the assured response. This admirer was hooked.
He’s always had the look of unconventional about him. To the extent that his alacrity in issuing dud teams prior didn’t exactly endear him to the masses when he was in charge of his native county. At the time, in one sense it was a source of intrigue – and the different ploys managers enlist still are.
However, what it also does is make his criticisms of those in charge of teams require a dollop of salt to make them palatable. Regarding Loughnane’s latest utterances, though, it wouldn’t take much to convince that there was at least a kernel of truth in the views expressed. What’s been surprising has been that those who were the object of his musings greeted them with such an affronted stance.
In case you missed it, what he basically said was that Kilkenny owed much of their success to Brian Cody’s management. What’s wrong with that, I hear you ask. Aren’t there numerous examples of the transformative effect on those under their stewardship? Sean Boylan and Jim McGuinness and Jack Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson are only a few examples. Or think of the amount of horses whose fortunes have improved when transferred to the care of Willie Mullins from other establishments.
Now, you’d think, given the ire at the follicly challenged former rival manager’s protestations that there would’ve been a backlash in their most recent outing – against Clare of all teams. Instead – and one is extremely mindful not to engage in over-reaction here – for the time being at least it left more questions than answers and lent a bit more credence to the critical analysis.
What it also did, of course, was provide ample evidence that Davy Fitzgerald’s side will once again be a major force in the months going forward. Which is only is it should be when it’s taken into account that few if any counties have had such a steady stream of talent coming through in recent years as the Banner have.
And that, in a circuitous way, leads us to Cork. Usually, it’s in the very early part of a new year, when the turkey hasn’t fully left the system, that competition structure within the GAA is the dish of choice sizzling in the Balti bowl of discussion. However, those keeping the gallop up on the matter throughout the first quarter of the year have forced the doubting majority to accept that – just like Cody’s importance to Kilkenny – there’s a bit of truth all round as the way the National Hurling League is run drastically needs a revamp.
While they mightn’t like it, Cork’s current travails are somewhat easy to explain. A dearth of underage success in recent years has left them overly reliant on an old guard, some of whom were – in panic one suspects – deemed surplus to requirements. Other counties in both disciplines can attest all too readily to the difficulties that creates.
What’s much more difficult to diagnose is how a county which had lost all their NHL games can end up remaining in the top division to the greatest detriment of a team which had recorded some victories by way of a one-off shoot out. None of which is Cork’s fault, by the way, but even they must see the harsh unfairness of the current regime.
In football, the leagues thankfully seem to be back in a common sense place with the abolition of the needless semi finals and just a straight matter of divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 – as compared to the elongated way in which the hurling leagues are laid out.
The obvious thing is presumably to do the same thing in the small ball code with the bottom team – or bottom two if that’s what people want – going down. As has often been proven before however, with the GAA, the obvious solution can often take the longest to see.