Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
In more than 20 years writing, never was it envisaged having to produce a piece of the ilk you are about to read. But then, a situation akin to what has set the keyboard off again has never been encountered previously. Here at least. Ups and downs, trouble and strife are all part of being heavily invested in sport.
Of course, being a journalist leaves one in a unique position. There’s one, well known, outspoken hack who, for a while, proclaimed his occupation precluded him from having inclinations towards any given entity. It’s hardly possible to maintain such a stance. There may be some chance of suppressing it or at least not expressing views held publicly. But not having feelings in a certain direction is surely aspirational at best.
Certainly at local level. Admittedly, even among journalists, yours truly is in a unique position. In that, as has been repeatedly affirmed here over the years, sport – and GAA in particular – means so much more than the bare bones of what occurs between the lines.
It’s for that reason recently emerged developments regarding Meath GAA are so troubling. At this juncture it should be stated that this corner has no intention of going into the nuts and bolts of the situation. Or commenting on the individuals involved. Sole motivation for what appears before you is out of concern. As a fan primarily, anything else is secondary.
My earnest hope is that the transition following Peter O’Halloran’s decision to step down as Co Committee Chairman will be seamless and smooth. Stability and continuity are exactly what’s required presently in the county for a variety of reasons. If general wisdom to be believed, it appears that will be what most likely happens.
Now, the quote from the famed Sligo poet was included from a very personal perspective. Meath teams doing well (and obviously Dunboyne ones also) has such an uplifting effect on my physical and mental health that a quick and trouble-free resolution to this business is not only desirable but essential.
However, even leaving personal hopes and feelings out of the equation, surely it’s in the best interest of all – players, administrators and supporters – that things are dealt with swiftly and in the least disruptive way possible. You might wonder at my inclusion of players in that, but, there’s much relating to playing affairs to be sorted for whoever comes in.
In conversation with a friend who’s been involved with county underage sides in the last couple of years recently, he opined that the extension of Andy McEntee’s tenure in charge of the county seniors for another three seasons was the most important decision of that nature made in years.
Such thinking is understandable though this corner would never take for granted its unanimity. During the same confab, it was also agreed that the appointment of the county U-20 team was also of the utmost importance. Doing so sooner rather than later is surely desirable also.
There’s also the crucially important issue of appointing a successor to Nick Fitzgerald as county senior hurling supremo. Doubtless, I would not have been alone in being surprised at the Waterford native’s departure. Now, these might seem like unlikely bedfellows, but, the hurling position and that of the underage football role are of similar standing as there has been progress of sorts in both areas. Developments on the small ball side may seem slightly more obvious given that a return to the Joe McDonagh Cup competition was secured earlier this year.
Mention of success regarding the underage football team may take a little more explaining, however, it should be remembered that the Royal County collected the silverware at U-17 level in two of the past three seasons. Thus, optimism that our representatives in the final underage grade can be impactful therein seem justifiable. Which is why putting structures in place around the said team is of the utmost importance.
The following might appear somewhat strange, but, whatever about on-field issues, at this juncture, it’s every bit as crucial that developments elsewhere – into which much work has already gone – are carried through to completion. Primarily, reference was being made to the fundraising for and actual completion of the of the re-development of Pairc Tailteann.
To my mind, in many ways, the old ground remains one of the finest in the country. However, it is beyond dispute that the Brews Hill venue is in need of modernisation. One hopes that when remedial action does eventually commence, restoration of floodlights will be on the menu.
Around a decade or ago, I, along with former Co Committee treasurer Colm Gannon, Chairman Fintan Ginnity and his second in command at the time, Brendan Dempsey met in HQ one wintry Saturday afternoon to begin the process of putting proper disabled viewing facilities in place. At the time they were an urgent necessity too. Especially given the number of drenchings endured and umbrellas lost up on the hill before The Shed – construction of which I was very proud to have played a part in – came on stream.
As much as the wheelchair spot has been a huge improvement – and provided shelter and comfort on good days and bad – compared to what preceded it, hope would be that the ‘room’ with a view for folk of similar ilk to myself will get an upgrade. Mind you, as wheelchair areas in GAA grounds – and other sporting venues it must be said – go, the Navan venue is up there with the best of them.
Admittedly, all that is viewed from a personal viewpoint. Even including all which has been outlined above, there are still many onerous tasks for whoever happens to be the new captain of the good ship Meath to oversee.
In the closing lines of the statement released upon his departure, the outgoing boss bullet-pointed the re-structuring of the club football championships as a development underpinning the success of his tenure. Gut feeling is I might not be alone in requiring a whole lot more convincing that such is the case.
There’s never a good time for matters such as these to raise their heads, but, notionally at least, better that it’s at the time of year when most aspects of GAA are beginning to wind down. Mention was given here not all long ago to fears that it could be a long and difficult winter.
This wasn’t the type of gap filler anybody would’ve wanted, and, though in some ways it might be a quiet time of year, time moves on quickly.