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Topics - Eamonnca1

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1
GAA Discussion / Comparing GAA players to pro players
« on: December 11, 2014, 08:08:00 PM »
Indo:

Quote
Eamonn Sweeney: Describing GAA players as elite or world class is just waffle

It's a long time since I've seen anything as dispiriting as the reaction to Stephen Hunt's article in this paper last week.

The Ireland midfielder wrote a good piece suggesting, among other things, that GAA players would have difficulty adapting to the lifestyle of a professional footballer. This was, in part, a reaction to a typically ludicrous piece of blather by Joe Brolly which stated that as role models for young people, soccer players were far inferior to GAA stars. By comparison, Hunt was measured and intelligent and unlike, for example, Jerry Kiernan in the past, wasn't disrespectful towards GAA players.

However, it's apparent that there are plenty of people out there who regard anything other than 100 per cent hero worship of the GAA and its players as a form of heresy. Which is a bit of an irony considering that they usually feel entitled to bang on about the moral inferiority of soccer at the drop of a hat. So Hunt suffered a lot of witless abuse on the web which continued even after he had the decency to go on RTé radio and explain what was obvious from the get-go anyway, that he wasn't slagging off GAA players but making a point about the difference between the lives of amateur and professional sportsmen.

What was really disappointing was to see past and present inter-county players getting in on the act. Mattie Forde, for example, called Hunt a "wally," and mocked him for playing with Ipswich Town. Considering that Ipswich are currently second in the Championship, we can only deduce that Forde believes playing for Wexford footballers was the equivalent of playing for Manchester United. Or perhaps Barcelona. Mayo wing-back Colm Boyle called Hunt a "clown" while Kilkenny hurling corner-back Paul Murphy and Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin joined in the whinefest.

But the inconvenient truth is that, from a sporting point of view, Stephen Hunt has achieved a great deal more than the people who slagged him off. He is in his 15th year as a professional footballer in a career which saw him play several seasons in the Premier League during which he acquitted himself well.

It's worth pondering exactly what that says about Hunt and his talent. We are talking about a man who went overseas and carved out a career in one of the strongest professional sports leagues in the world. Soccer is the most popular game in England, a country with roughly 10 times the population of Ireland. In fact, anyone who's ever watched a bit of non-league soccer over there will note the amount of really excellent players who didn't make the grade. The pool of talent is deep.


VIDEO: Independent.ie panel discuss Stephen Hunt comments
720p
00:00 / 04:31
Add in the fact that the most talented young footballers in Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands are seeking a living there. And not just them but players from all over Europe and, increasingly, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Making a career in English football is extraordinarily difficult. It's not the same as getting picked for Mayo or Kilkenny or even Wexford.

I love Gaelic football and hurling, the former especially. I've defended it numerous times in this column against the growing band of cynics who suggest the game is going to hell in a handcart and boring the life out of the spectators, Joe Brolly being a prime example. The sad thing is that the players who let rip at Stephen Hunt are admirable sportsmen in their own right.

Yet I suspect that the problem here is what we might term The Forde Delusion, the idea that because the crowds at GAA games are so big, the hurling and football championships are on the same level as the Premier League.

And that's simply not true. How could it be? Major soccer leagues attract the best players from all over the world. Gaelic football and hurling, on the other hand, are played in one small country. By comparison to soccer or rugby or golf or tennis or a hundred other sports, the pool of talent is exceptionally shallow. Which is only as you'd expect in the world's 121st biggest nation.

I don't mean to diminish Gaelic games by noting this, just to put these sports we love into some kind of global context. There are wonderful things about the GAA - the passionate support, the exciting nature of the games, the link between club and county, the strength of the parish structure. But there is no point in pretending that its players are in the same class as professional footballers.

Gaelic footballers and hurlers are amateurs, wonderfully hard-working and dedicated amateurs, but amateurs nonetheless. This may sound obvious but the hordes attacking Stephen Hunt seem to have forgotten that the man inhabits an entirely different sporting universe from the one where GAA stars do their thing.

Personally, I think many top footballers and hurlers would flourish were their games professional. But we'll never know that because the fact of the games being restricted at a serious level to one small island means professionalism probably won't ever happen. GAA players are amateurs, by and large, not because they want to maintain a healthy life/work balance but because there's nobody out there willing to pay them.

There are demands associated with holding down a job and playing a part-time game as well but the demands of professional sport are even higher. The average professional soccer player will play around four times as many matches as a GAA player in a season. And the professional is subject to a pressure the amateur sportsman will never have to cope with, the knowledge that should he perform badly his job is in jeopardy. There are few working environments more ruthless than that of professional football. Of the many talented youngsters who leave this country to try and make it in the pro game, only a handful succeed.

There are some GAA fans and perhaps some players too who labour under the notion that if inter-county players turned to soccer they'd make it in England no bother. But when you look at how few players from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make the big time, the lunacy of the idea that there are hundreds of potential professional footballers knocking around this country is apparent.

That's unless you believe that GAA players are a kind of a master race. Which, I'm afraid to say, probably isn't the case. I know that in the current climate this may be something of a controversial statement.

The advantage someone like Stephen Hunt has is that he knows exactly how good he is because he has been tested by international competition. Whereas the slight lack of reality among certain GAA people about hurling and football's standing results from the fact that the games take place inside something of a bubble. The parochial nature of the Association is its great strength but it can also be a weakness.

It's striking, for example, how many inter-county players live and work pretty close to where they were born. In the circumstances it's easy to develop a somewhat exaggerated sense of your own worth particularly when the likes of me are banging on how about how great you are.

A real top-class sportsman proves it internationally. We wouldn't think as much of Brian O'Driscoll if his biggest test had come in annual jousts against Munster, of Seán Kelly if he'd stayed at home and won a few Rás Tailteanns or Roy Keane if he'd never ventured beyond the League of Ireland. It's not the fault of GAA players that they don't have an international stage to perform on but in its absence describing them as 'world-class' or 'elite', which does happen from time to time, is just waffle.

So is the idea that amateur players can be just as fit and accomplished as professionals. Again this depends on the idea of the GAA as some kind of miracle-working organisation. In reality, the gap between our players and those from Australian rules in terms of conditioning is pretty obvious when they compete. And Australian rules, being a one-nation sport, is hardly in the top bracket internationally.

Gaelic games are wonderful for what they are but there's no point pretending they're in the same ballpark as major professional sports. That pretence just means that when someone like Stephen Hunt introduces a bit of truth into the conversation he's treated like a curly-headed Salman Rushdie. Maybe it's time to grow up a small bit.

Little love behind new dating game

They don't get much wrong in Kerry. In his report to tomorrow's annual convention, county secretary Peter Twiss hits the nail on the head as regards the GAA's crack-brained idea to finish all competitions within a single calendar year.

Twiss notes: "By insisting that the All-Ireland club championships be completed by the end of a calendar year, there will be no option but to shorten the life span of county championships and reduce the number of games. What is progressive about this? I don't know."

People have been calling for changes to improve the lot of the ordinary club players who seem of late to have been assigned a back seat by the Association. But the calendar year proposal is the change no-one asked for. Have you ever heard anyone say, "What we need is for the All-Ireland club finals to be switched from St Patrick's Day to December?" Club players are looking for extra games in June, not in the run-up to Christmas.

One justification of the proposal is that it will save provincial champions the hassle of having to continue training in the New Year. But, even taking junior and intermediate competitions into account, this directly involves a mere 24 clubs whereas many more than that will be adversely affected by the telescoping of the season. And it's not certain if you're actually doing the clubs in the last four much of a favour anyway. Did Kilmallock and Austin Stacks, for example, think after their epic Munster campaigns that it would be great to have two more games in December? Or did they welcome the chance to regroup?

The biggest argument against the proposed change is that it will spell the end for one of the great occasions in the GAA calendar, the club final double-bill in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day. It's ironic that an organisation which spends so much time and energy trying to get spectators in to competitions like the Railway Cup and the international rules, that no-one is really interested in, is prepared to dispose of an occasion whose popularity has grown organically over the years.

In any event the calendar year proposal won't solve the big problems which bedevil the association at grassroots level, that of club players condemned to inaction in the summer months because gutless county boards cave in to the demands of grasping inter-county managers, and of county championships turned into elongated blitzes as though they're merely an afterthought.

Hopefully, more counties will join Kerry in voicing their opposition to this scheme. It's a common lament of Croke Park media groupies that Central Council are prevented from passing visionary proposals because they're forced to get the assent of the great unwashed at Congress.

But, as Twiss points out, "It is good to have reviews and fresh thinking but the people left to solve the day-to-day issues with fixtures - ie the CCCs around the country and at provincial and national level - should be consulted a lot more before ideas become policy."

Supporting change just because it's change is every bit as silly as opposing it for the same reason.

Just say no folks.

Nuanced debate lost in cyberspace

One thing which struck me looking at the reaction to Stephen Hunt's column was how remarkably bad-tempered it was and how reluctant the partisans on both sides were to admit their opponents had any point at all. On one side you had people blustering that Hunt hated the GAA and was a crap player who played a crap sport. And on the other you had lads going on about 'bog ball,' in an equally insufferable manner.

There was nothing unusual about this. Colm O'Rourke's column about the Gaelic Players Association a couple of weeks back met with a similar response. It wasn't enough for people to disagree with O'Rourke, he had to be the enemy. Instead of addressing, and if possible disproving, the points he made it was easier, and lazier, to dismiss him with a one-line insult.

One of the great things about this country used to be the ability of two people to argue the toss, at length and with some passion, about sport but to remain civilised about it. I wonder sometimes if that day is gone or if it's just the internet which has become the domain of the bully and the blowhard. Perhaps a man who's got one eye on his work and the other on a comment section or message board doesn't really have the time or inclination to examine both sides of an argument. The truncated nature of Twitter communication certainly doesn't lend itself to nuance.

Online GAA arguments aren't the only ones which suffer from a consistently dyspeptic tone. Pretty much any debate about Roy Keane degenerates into a slanging match between those who regard Keane as a 'traitor' and those who see him as a noble warrior fearlessly prosecuting the war against mediocrity. One side thinks everything Keane does is right, the other that everything he does is wrong. The fact that Keane might be right sometimes and wrong sometimes doesn't occur to either of them.

But with the Season of Goodwill coming up perhaps it's time for combatants to engage in an internet version of that football game from the Pipes of Peace video. Consider the possibility that the person arguing against you might be doing so in good faith. And for God's sake don't insist that you deserve an apology because someone wrote something you disagree with. That's just childish.

Above all, think on these words from the great 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, "With regard to human affairs, not to laugh, not to cry, not to become indignant, but to understand." Because that lad you're berating on the internet might be right and you might be wrong.

It's possible you know.

I thought I was going to get angry at this when I read the headline, but when I read the article there's a lot to agree with. We definitely have an inflated sense of our importance in the GAA and a lack of perspective concerning our place in the sporting world. On the other hand I've always found it a bit pointless comparing GAA players to players of other sports. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison. GAA players adapt to the structures and conditions that they operate in, English Premier League players do likewise. It's like comparing a Formula 1 car to a rally car. They're built for completely different purposes and there's no such thing as one being "better" than the other.

Gaelic football has its points. Hurling has its action speed and skill. Soccer has its grace and suspense. I'm sure fans of cricket find their game exciting just like baseball fans do. These are all great sports in their own right and there's nothing to be gained from getting into a game of one-upmanship. Can't we all just get along?

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GAA Discussion / Your earliest memories of the GAA
« on: November 13, 2014, 06:36:26 PM »
Sitting at a match between Armagh and Fermanagh in Irvinestown.  Would have been early 80s, maybe late 70s.  I remember my brothers getting all excited because Fermanagh was getting bate. My dad, a Fermanagh man, was sitting behind us with his mates. One of them gave me a sweet every time Fermanagh scored but he didn't succeed in getting me to shout against Armagh!

3
GAA Discussion / Devastated GAA star gets 48-week ban for UK match
« on: November 11, 2014, 01:14:47 AM »
Quote
Devastated GAA star gets 48-week ban for UK match

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Joe McGillycuddy in action for Glenbeigh/Glencar in Kerry.

A YOUNG GAA player has been left "devastated" following the handing down of a 48-week ban for playing in a 'sevens' tournament in England on the weekend of the All-Ireland.

Joe McGillycuddy, who plays with Kerry club Glenbeigh/ Glencar, was hit with the ban when he told the GAA he had played with the Leicester-based Naomh Padraig club in a seven-a-side tournament against St Jude's, despite being registered with the Kerry club.

Mr McGillycuddy, who lives and works in Leicester but commutes home to play with Glenbeigh/Glencar, said he wasn't aware that it was an officially sanctioned GAA competition.

He now faces losing out on participating in his club's upcoming clash against Brosna in the Kerry Junior Championship semi-final.

Should his team progress, he will also miss out on being involved in any county, provincial or All-Ireland club championship matches.

Two four-time All-Ireland winners, former Kerry star Sean O'Sullivan and McGillycuddy's clubmate in Glenbeigh/Glencar Darran O'Sullivan, have condemned the decision, taken following a hearing of the case at Croke Park last Thursday.

A subsequent appeal to the GAA's Central Appeals Committee was unsuccessful, leaving McGillycuddy with the only hope that his case will be reconsidered under the Reinstate Rule.

This allows a player who has served a period of suspension to be reinstated because of the hardship caused by the ban.

Chairman of Glenbeigh/Glencar GAA club Aidan Roche said the decision was particularly disappointing as it was McGillycuddy who had "put his hands up".

He said: "We decided to be totally honest and upfront about the situation once we found out because we didn't want it to cost the club further down the line should we progress in competitions and Joe having played for us in them.

"We're very disappointed for Joe personally but we will just have to let the matter lie for the moment until we see how the coming weeks pan out for the club," he added.

Former Kerry star Sean O'Sullivan tweeted: "It's decisions like this will turn guys off playing the game ... joke".

Kerry footballer Darran O'Sullivan tweeted: "Absolute joke that my club mate has received a 48-week ban for playing in a 'Mickey Mouse' Sevens competition for an English club at the weekend."

He said his clubmate had been rewarded for wages lost and the cost of flights home by getting a ban for playing in a "nothing, kiss-my-a***" competition.

McGillycuddy has made himself available to his home club throughout this season, regularly flying home from Leicester to Co Kerry for matches.

The Glenbeigh/Glencar club has also invested heavily in the player, who is seen as a key member of the squad that has gone from Division Four to Division One, so his loss is a major blow.

How the hell is this in violation of any rule? If it was a sevens tournament then it wasn't an actual county championship or league, therefore there was no need for him to get anyone's permission to play in it. I hope he appeals and gets the suspension lifted.

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General discussion / Water charges
« on: October 31, 2014, 04:51:48 AM »
I'm surprised there hasn't been a thread about this.

  • The pipes date back from Victorian times
  • Half the water is lost through leaks
  • Lead contamination is above safe EU levels
  • Water charges are commonplace elsewhere in Europe

Clearly the whole thing needs fixed, it's going to cost money to do it, and there needs to be some sort of conservation incentive in there. If water charges aren't the way to go about it, then where else is the money going to come from? What am I missing?

5
Daylight Savings Time.

International Rules.

Railway Cup.

New York in the opening round of the football championship.

In our house growing up it was the practice of buying big Christmas presents. "There'll be nothing big bought this year!"

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General discussion / Great parliamentary performances
« on: October 21, 2014, 05:55:09 AM »
UK House of Commons

Denis Skinner’s annual quips to Black Rod during the state opening of Parliament
http://youtu.be/aMSCITZB7ws?t=1m23s

Glenda Jackson’s epic denunciation of Thatcher after her death
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm1gHp9ImyU

Lyndsay Hoyle, deputy speaker, handling the budget. Beats the hell out of Bercow, hopefully he’ll be the next speaker.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5R2KhgtfuE


Australian House of Representatives

Paul Keating on the Liberal Party’s “Fightback” policy document
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEsN4-XLE2k

Paul Keating’s response to a censure motion. A tirade like no other.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roIeVEf5alk

Paul Keating’s attacks the Liberal Party’s “cultural cringe”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc96KVsTKtY

Keating on the senate “Unrepresentative swill”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG1khlbqI9k

“Give him a valium”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Lu6FCVkNs


US House of Representatives

Barney Frank kicks Patrick McHenry around the house floor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcdai100SOM

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General discussion / "Parish" and means of local identification
« on: September 27, 2014, 08:07:10 PM »
I've noticed free staters have a tendency to talk about the parish as their means of identifying where they're from.  "Parish" this and "parish" that. They talk about their GAA club representing the parish, which is very different to how it is where I'm from. Round our way the club represents a local rural community or whatever part of the town the club's based in. Country people talk about the townland they're from, townies just reference the town. And when country boys are outside the local area they say they're from whatever the nearest town is. To boys like us, the townland is what you identify with, and that's a subset of the nearest town which you also identify with. The parish is just some abstract concept that only ever gets mentioned by priests. In our "parish" there's two GAA clubs, in the town there's another parish with about half a dozen clubs in it. I'd say a lot of people nowadays would be hard pressed to name their parish.

I've never heard anyone say they're from "Seagoe" which is the name of our parish. I think there was a townland called Seagoe but I'm not sure if anyone lives there now because a lot of it  was built over with industrial estates in the 1960s as part of the Craigavon "new city" development.

Is this a northern thing, to not identify with the parish? Or is it an urban thing and the north happens to be more urbanised? What's it like in Dublin? Does anyone there refer to parishes?  Belfast people ("Belfastards"?) tend to refer to what part of the city they're from, usually named after the nearest main thoroughfare (Lower Falls, Shankill, Springfield Rd. etc.). Can't say I've ever heard any of them boys talk about a parish.

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General discussion / The should-we-or-shouldn't-we have a border poll thread
« on: September 20, 2014, 11:51:11 PM »
Should we? Can't say I see the point of one. We'd be doing well if we got more than 30% yes in the north. The place is nowhere near ready for reunification. The north is still too divided, institutions are still unstable because the unionists keep threatening to throw the rattle out of the pram over stupid issues, and democracy hasn't put down deep enough roots yet.

The south is still sorting out a clusterf**k of a financial mess because of the bank bailout, its political system is corrupted by big-shots and parish pump special interests, and the rule of law isn't exactly strong.

It's going to take a while to sort all that out, and I'm not seeing much signs of progress on a lot of it, particularly divisions in the north.

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GAA Discussion / "Exploitation" of amateur players
« on: August 19, 2014, 06:02:09 AM »
I can't remember who it was, but some former inter-county player who had gone to Australia tweeted that "no other amateur players are exploited as much" when he heard about the Sky broadcasting deal. He's obviously not familiar with US college sports where student athletes live in poverty because of NCAA rules that stop them from even accepting gifts that could be interpreted as payment for their services. They're allowed a scholarship to cover tuition, free room and board, and not much else. They don't even get a penny from image rights, something that GAA players are allowed to earn.

A Californian judge has struck down the NCAA's rules preventing players from earning money from the likes of image rights. But the "it's time to pay GAA players" crowd shouldn't get too excited though. There are huge differences between the NCAA and the GAA.

Quote
An End to Exploitation of Athletes

A court ruling could spell the end of the “amateur” status of top-flight American college sports.

A federal judge in California has struck a blow against the amateur status of college athletes playing in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competitions. The ruling, if it is upheld on appeal, will pave the way for college athletes to earn money from image rights, something that GAA players have been doing for years. For the first time, a student athlete whose likeness appears in a video game will be able to earn a share of the millions of dollars generated by it.

Big time college sports have been controversial in America for quite some time, and not just because of the NCAA’s amateur status. College campuses have become home to shiny, modern, opulent stadiums that would not look out of place on the professional sporting circuit. The highest paid staff in some universities are not world-renowned professors but basketball and gridiron football coaches. Indeed coaches are the highest paid public employees in some states, the highest earning $5.6 million per year, with Athletic Directors and assistant coaches earning seven figure sums. Under pressure from influential alumni who see sporting success as essential to maintaining a school’s prestige, massive amounts of resources are poured into what is essentially a source of on-site entertainment for undergraduate students.

Full story...

10
General discussion / Bruton says Easter Rising was "unnecessary"
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:47:31 PM »
Was it?

http://www.forasach.ie/2014/08/07/great-war-ireland-john-bruton-1916/

"... However this was not how politicians operated in those days. Honor was deemed more important than international peace and stability, brinkmanship was commonplace, and the tendency was to use force more readily to solve problems than in today’s world where war is (or in theory should) be used as a last resort after exhausting the numerous other diplomatic channels that are now available. Therefore if the 1916 Rising was “unnecessary”, it was no more “unnecessary” than the Great War or any other conflict of the time."

11
GAA Discussion / "Croker"
« on: August 04, 2014, 07:16:37 AM »
I've only ever seen "Croker" written, but I've never heard it spoken. I've only ever heard Croke Park abbreviated to "Croke."

That is all.

12
Too soon? Yup. But I'm going to stick my neck out and pick Cory Booker.  A lot of parallels with Obama. Young, smart, media savvy, black, good stories to tell (didn't he run into a burning house and save someone?), progressives like him, bipartisan work ethic (working with Rand Paul to fix the mass incarceration crisis), and by the time 2016 comes around he won't have been in the senate long enough to have picked up a dodgy voting record. He's denied that he's going to run of course, but so did Obama at this stage of the game. Hillary has too much baggage and too many skeletons in and out of the closet. Booker's a better bet IMHO.

13
General discussion / Intriguing sports that you don't see much of
« on: June 16, 2014, 04:57:46 AM »
Canadian football.  Look at the size of that field!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snwanVaPMys

They have 3 downs instead of 4. If a field goal goes wide and drops into the (huge) end zone, a defending player can catch it and run. There's a yard between the teams at the line of scrimmage, which seems to make it a lot more open. Apparently they favor smaller players who can move quickly.  Anybody here ever watch it?


Bandy. Look at the size of that rink!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUaxDB0ea3M

11-a-side on a rink the size of a soccer pitch. 45 minutes halves. Looks like great stuff. I've always found ice hockey a bit cramped, myself. This gives the players a bit of room to spread out, reminds me of how I always preferred outdoor soccer to indoor because there was a bit of room to play.

15
GAA Discussion / My hurling prediction for the weekend...
« on: June 06, 2014, 04:20:53 AM »
Sticking my neck out here, I don't usually do predictions because when you get them wrong you can look a bit ridiculous...

Hurling is going to appear on British television at a decent hour, with a British-friendly presentation and a positive spin put on it.  Interest in hurling is going to explode (or at least steadily increase) in Britain and it'll be a sensation.

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