The matches may be nearly over, but the work endures
WITH ALMOST every local championship completed in both codes, except the Under-20 football championship and one hurling final replay in the same grade, it’s time for G.A.A. club officials, selectors, players, committees and all associated to take a break…if only.
Running any sports club is a year-round cycle and, just because the playing of games has ended, there is still no rest for the wicked.
Funds need to be raised, general meetings prepared for, and the constant trawl for players and people to help out continues. In some cases, teams are already back in training for next year.
Looking back on this year’s championships, they were exciting and entertaining and threw up some unexpected results.
Shelmaliers followed through on the promise and improvement shown this year and were deserved first time champions.
After an enthralling drawn game, a disappointing replay from a neutral point of view should not take away from their outstanding achievement.
On the same day Horeswood also deserved great praise for their immediate return to the Senior ranks after just one year in exile. I always maintain that the Intermediate championship is the most competitive and hardest title to win, and to get Senior status back straight away shows great spirit and commitment in a club.
The New Ross District side will be a tough prospect for any opponent next year.
Naomh Eanna’s Intermediate ‘A’ title was only the dress rehearsal for an unbelievable first Senior hurling title, which brought scenes of joy and celebration that show what sport means to members and communities.
This was an amazing achievement by a club that is growing rapidly and making waves at under-age level for the last few years. Knowing the people involved, they won’t rest on their laurels and have ambitious plans to win more Senior titles in the near future.
Fethard also deserve tremendous credit for their Intermediate hurling victory. After a long campaign last year that brought them to the All-Ireland Club final in Croke Park, a second championship title in a row is another brilliant achievement, showing the talent and determination in that club.
So, despite the detractors, I think the local championships entertained us this year. Sometimes observers lose sight of the level they are watching.
We are all used to watching live games on television between inter-county teams full of top class players who are conditioned like full-time athletes.
Then we go to a local championship match and expect a fastpaced, error-free spectacle of football or hurling.
That’s not going to happen, yet we still complain about lack of quality in players, referees and, of course, selectors and managers when our teams lose.
Supporters’ attitudes aren’t going to change though; after all, we are all experts on the line and the post-mortems are part of the fun, and the blame game after matches. It’s why we all keep going back for more.
As most people know, some new experimental rule changes have been proposed to improve football as a spectacle. A maximum of three consecutive handpasses, a sin-bin, a mark inside the ‘20 if the ball is delivered from outside the ‘45, sideline balls going forward only, two players only from each side between the ‘45s for a kickout…you put your left foot in, your left foot out, the only thing you don’t do is the hokey-cokey.
Oh my God, I don’t know if I’ll be a referee next year. It’s hard enough at the moment, but now we’ll have to carry an abacus to count passes, an extra watch to time the sin-bin and kicks from the mark, a pair of extra strong ear muffs to block out the ‘experts’ on the line, and an extra strong layer of thick skin to pretend the abuse doesn’t matter.