Wheels coming off the wagon already

Sport, by it’s very nature, is full of ups and downs. You’ll lose a lot more than you’ll win. Believe me, I know all too well. Therefore, savouring the good days, when they do dawn, is not only important at the time, but also crucial in giving hope for the future. In more ways than one.

Last Saturday evening was one such occasion for Meath GAA fans. Defeating Dublin in anything at any time is usually a good indicator you are on the right road. So, when John McCarthy’s side recorded a comfortable victory over the two shades of blue imbued all and sundry with optimism for the long term. And, even more significantly, left Meath people with something to look forward to for the weeks and months ahead.

Meath Minor Football Manager John McCarthy

Until now, that is. For, as much as it pains me to see this transpire as such, the GAA’s decision to begin the inter-county competitions already seems to have the wheels falling off its wagon. This morning, it was announced that the All Ireland U-20 final in football between Dublin and Galway, as well as all Minor and U-20 fixtures in hurling have been ‘paused’ until further notice.

To the young footballers from the capital and city of the Tribes, that seems as unfair as it is unwarranted. They had, after all, only one game left in their entire season. Moreover, how is the U-20 football from the hurling games which were permitted to go ahead as planned tonight (Wednesday).

The only conclusion yours truly can arrive it is that they reckon it wouldn’t be safe to play such fixtures because players at those grades are all coming from schools and colleges. Which, of course, would reaffirm my belief that the unecessary re-opening of the educational institutions riding shotgun to the explosion in the numbers of new Covid-19 cases cannot be merely co-incidence.

Then again, how much easier would it be to land the blame in ridiculously disproportionate percentages on the GAA. Yes, some of what went on after county finals in some places wasn’t right, but, tarring an entire organisation with the one brush is not only grossly unfair, it greatly and unjustly besmirched and demeaned the huge and invaluable contribution to sustaining communities in these strangest of times.

However, that is not to say that the Association haven’t dropped a few clangers which they should’ve had well under control. Chief among them, the decision to stage inter-county competitions at all this season.

Among the potential drawbacks to such being the case, which should’ve been abundantly clear, was that, at a time when we are being told to limit our contacts, movements and circle around us as tight as is possible, assembling county teams is surely the complete opposite of such a mindset.

At the same time, when the GAA did decide to go ahead with the inter-county competitions, surely the only fair way to move forward would be to employ the same criteria to all such matters.

Doing anything else gives lie to the notion of us all being in this chaotic mess together. That’s a hard sell, especially at a time when the slurry agitators are on full power and pointed squarely at you, if different sections of the same group can’t even stick to the same script.

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