Sometimes you just have to ignore well meant advice

A fairly safe guess could be made that we were all told when we hit a certain age “Never discuss politics or religion in a pub”. Fairly sound advice and certainly the latter was never going to be an issue here. The former, however, is a different matter entirely. 

A fervent interest in politics was passed on from a very young age. Granted, I probably took things a bit further than was expected by getting involved politically at local level. Though that stint didn’t last too long because those with whom I was working were accused of bringing “the lad in the wheelchair out for the sympathy vote”. As if I couldn’t think for myself!

Anyway, whatever about religion, politics and sport often cannot avoid becoming intertwined. It’s often said a week is a long time in politics, it’s actually equally so in sport. Take that recent Super Saturday for example.

A truly magnificent and historic day for Meath GAA. With the senior footballers recording a very encouraging win over Down in the Tailteann Cup and then our hurlers capturing the Christy Ring Cup for the third time in seven years.

The following may be hard for some people to understand, but, owing to some of the extra baggage appended to Cerebral Palsy, watching a match, even on television, can leave me physically and mentally exhausted. Thus, on that particular Saturday, it was the last hours of the night – or the first hours of the following morning – before the keyboard got a tapping about the brilliant day’s events.

I never mind writing late at night. In fact, it’s much easier. Either with or without something coming through the headphones from Spotify. That said, after a manic day like the one in question, ideally a quiet, uneventful one to follow is fine. 

No such luck this time around unfortunately. At around 4pm on Sunday last, this newspaper got alerted to the fact that a major breaking story was afoot concerning Meath GAA. I won’t publish what my initial theory was (thankfully as far out as a lighthouse) but some of the other guesses sent in this direction included: 

Colm O’Rourke resigning

Somebody leaving the senior football panel

Cian McBride coming home to join the panel

Emma Troy doing likewise with the lady footballers. 

As much as I really wish it was any of the more positive possibilities above, it was instead the revelation that Meath ladies manager Davy Nelson and his entire backroom team were departing from their roles with immediate effect. 

It would be disingenuous of me to feign being shocked at the news. At this stage, let it be made abundantly clear that there was no prior inclination here as to what the developing story was. Sometimes your gut just sends you a telegraph and it’s very seldom wrong. On a personal level, I’m deeply disappointed that it hasn’t worked out for Davy. He’s somebody I’ve known on the GAA ‘circuit’ for many years and has a managerial CV to rank with the best locally and further afield.

Anybody who takes on to look after any team, from juvenile to Junior D to inter county, does so with the best of intentions. Conversely, nobody will feel the angst and disappointment more when it doesn’t go to plan than those at the coalface. One outing not going as would be wished doesn’t define a managerial – or playing – career and hope and expectation would be that Davy will be back on a sideline somewhere sooner rather than later.

However, the more immediate issue at play here is that, at the time construction of this piece began, there was a team without a manager. Not just any team, the reigning and defending All Ireland Ladies SFC winners. It was at this stage that one began to wonder were there sporting politics at play. Fast forward to now, (lunchtime Friday) and, thankfully, it would appear the worst of furore may be over with the appointment of Jenny Rispin as interim boss for the remainder of the season.

It will be the Summerhill club woman’s second stint in the role, having previously stepped in when Diane O’Hora vacated the manager’s job. At the time of typing, sources indicate that Paul Garrigan, Eugene Eivers and Michelle Grimes may return to the backroom team.

That, however, raises the question as to whether the two men listed above will have to leave Colm O’Rourke’s set up with the lads, if so, or will they ‘double job’. Say nothing ‘til you hear more. What’s important now is to get focus back to on-field matters.

If you were to take a step back and look, things aren’t actually as bad as it may have first appeared. With the exception of winning the National League last year, they are essentially starting their defence of the Brendan Martin Cup from a very similar position now. Time to let the boots do the talking. 

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