All Star controversy is much ado about noth­ing

Damian Stack looks at some of the sto­ries mak­ing back­page news over the past seven days

The Corkman - - SPORT -

WHERE were you dur­ing the great All Stars controversy of 2017? Which side were you on? Were you on the right side of his­tory? Will you be able to look your grand­chil­dren in the eye if and when called to ac­count for your ac­tions dur­ing those most mo­men­tous of days?

If you haven’t been able to de­tect the our sar­casm here, let us put your at ease, we haven’t lost our mind, not yet at least. It has at times felt over the past cou­ple of days that far too many other peo­ple have taken tem­po­rary leave of their senses.

Much of that is fed by what we’ve seen and read on so­cial me­dia and in that you’ve al­ways got to be care­ful. So­cial me­dia acts some­times as an echo cham­ber where the most prom­i­nent voices can of­ten be those which shout the loud­est.

Even so the re­ac­tion to this year’s All Star foot­ball se­lec­tion seems par­tic­u­larly over­heated. Cer­tain de­ci­sions have been branded a dis­grace or worst. Na­tional news­pa­pers car­ried head­lines about snubs to par­tic­u­lar play­ers. Var­i­ous the­o­ries abounded (it was the cluchies wot done it!).

Much of the dis­cus­sion cen­tres around Stephen Clux­ton’s non-se­lec­tion for the All Star team. Hav­ing been nom­i­nated for Foot­baller of the Year, a lot of peo­ple felt there was some­thing more than a lit­tle off about the de­ci­sion.

Agree with that, dis­agree with that (and we’ll have our say in a minute), it’s not ex­actly the end of the world now is it? It’s an award. Nice for those who win it, but no more than that.

Fair play to David Clarke for tak­ing the goal­keeper’s po­si­tion, hope­fully he’ll knock some en­joy­ment out of it, but had he not won it would he have been sit­ting at home all win­ter and into the spring pin­ing af­ter that piece of me­tal­work?

It’s hard to imag­ine isn’t it? It’s hardly an All Ire­land medal or any­where near as im­por­tant. That’s the thing that’s so tire­some about the an­nual bout of grous­ing and moan­ing which ac­com­pa­nies the All Stars. It’s much ado about noth­ing.

There’s the old line –

Sayre’s law – about why the bat­tles be­tween aca­demics are so vi­cious... be­cause the stakes are so low. The All Stars is the ul­ti­mate low stakes thing to have a row about.

Most – if not all – the peo­ple kick­ing up the great­est fuss about this stand to gain pre­cisely noth­ing be­yond some sort of loy­alty to place and af­fec­tion for in­di­vid­ual play­ers.

So Clarke gets the nod and Mayo peo­ple re­joice. So Clarke gets the nod and Dublin peo­ple’s nose is put out of joint that their guy wasn’t se­lected in­stead. Then the Mayo peo­ple take um­brage to Dublin folk’s um­brage and off we go to the races.

The de­ci­sion. The back­lash and the back­lash to the back­lash. A per­fectly point­less lit­tle cir­cle of out­rage and faux-out­rage and what­ever else you’re hav­ing your­self. In a way we sup­pose this col­umn is prob­a­bly in it­self a back­lash to the back­lash to the back­lash (it gets a lit­tle con­fus­ing af­ter a cer­tain point).

Look it’s all fairly harm­less stuff, but it’s all so petty and maybe even a lit­tle bit em­bar­rass­ing. It’s hard to imag­ine Stephen Clux­ton is en­joy­ing be­ing at the cen­tre of all this non­sense. The Coolock man keeps a low pro­file for a rea­son. None of which is to say he wouldn’t liked to have won, or to say that he wouldn’t have thought he de­served to win, just that it wouldn’t seem to be his style to go off in a huff about it. With his five All Ire­land medals – four of those achieved as cap­tain – and five All Star awards we think he’ll just about get over it.

And for what it’s worth we’d be of the view that this year, as last, David Clarke was de­serv­ing of the award. He was the stand-out goal-keeper in the game this sum­mer. He pulled off top class save af­ter top class save – still a key com­po­nent of the gig by the way (not that Clux­ton hasn’t got that in his locker as well). Clarke’s kick-outs – spot on in the re­play against Kerry es­pe­cially – were up there with Clux­ton’s too and that’s the thing about it. There seems to be this idea that be­cause Clux­ton rev­o­lu­tionised the po­si­tion the All Star is his by right.

Now that’s bonkers. If any­thing Clarke’s win this year is the ul­ti­mate vin­di­ca­tion of Clux­ton’s ca­reer. He’s been so good he’s forced ev­ery­body else to up their game ac­cord­ingly. It’s a bit like how Mar­garet Thatcher re­garded Tony Blair and New Labour as her great­est achieve­ment – she, like Clux­ton, shifted the paradigm.

To think and to talk and to thrash all this stuff out is a very fine thing in­deed. It’s what the All Stars should be all about, it’d just be nice if we could all do so with­out get­ting our backs up and fight­ing like two bald men over a comb.

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