International Rules Series organised for 2014
Opinions will differ but I’m personally disappointed to hear that the dates have been arranged for the 2014 Compromise Rules series between Ireland and Australia. The G.A.A and A.F.L announced their plans this week. The 2013 series was a complete shambles on a number of fronts. Firstly, the Australians sent a very weak team to Ireland on a glorified holiday and the disruption the series gave to club fixtures was absolutely disgraceful. The treatment of club teams and club players to accommodate a small number of players further illustrated how poorly their contributions are valued. All the public heard about were ‘sob stories’ on how players were forced to choose between club and country. There shouldn’t have been any doubt, clubs should have gotten preference.
Club games face enough disruption as it is, and this joke of a series should not disrupt club games any further. Any questions on whether this series had a future or not were answered last year, it doesn’t. There are too many games as it is and we don’t need any more meaningless fixtures. It may be a G.A.A player’s only chance to represent Ireland, but this series is more than on its last legs. Alterations have been made, and it’s a one game series played on the 22nd of November in Perth. Provided it doesn’t interfere with club fixtures, let the tour go ahead. If we see the same scenario again, it will further prove how Croke Park have no interest in the grassroots of the G.A.A.
More county board conflict
Last week it was Waterford and Donegal and this week it was the turn of Limerick. News broke on Monday morning that co-manager of the senior hurling team, Donal O’Grady, had resigned following a disagreement with the Limerick county board. Cork started this trend all the way back in 2002 and now there are ever present news stories regarding problems at respective county board levels. Since O’Grady’s departure was announced both he and the Limerick county board have been hitting out at each other all week.
It’s understood that there was conflict between management and the board regarding the team’s performances in the league and their failure to secure permission to Division 1A. The board stated that management apologised to the board for poor performances which is supposedly untrue. Then the county board’s failure to retract their statement led to O’Grady’s departure. It just sounds like a complete mess. Only people directly involved know the true story and who is more at fault. The overall story is that this could be a setback for Limerick. The players deserve better either way and it will be interesting to see if this impacts on their performances.
National Football League finals
The four National Football League finals take place in Croke Park this weekend. In Saturday’s double header, Clare face Tipperary in the Division 4 final while it’s Cavan against Roscommon in the Division 3 final. Clare and Tipperary were opponents in the hurling Division 1 semi-final last week with the Premier men coming out on top. It’s an even contest, with Tipperary slight favourites given their recent underage record. A win would be big for both ahead of the Munster championship. Cavan had a good year last year and national silverware would be a boost to a growing team. Roscommon will pay without their under-21 contingent, and for this reason Cavan may edge it.
Sunday sees the Division 1 and Division 2 titles decided. The curtain raiser sees Donegal and Monaghan face off in a replay of last year’s Ulster final where the Farney men defied all odds to secure the Ulster title. The styles of both teams will be interesting here. Have they both evolved their defensive mind-sets or will they go open? Both teams will want to win in what’s a tough game to call. Dublin and Derry will showcase the weekend. Derry have done very well so far this year but it’s impossible to look past Dublin going on what they showed against Cork in the semi-final.
Criticism of referees
One of the big talking points last weekend was referees and indeed criticism of referees. Refereeing decisions were a real bone of contention in the All-Ireland under-21 football semi-finals last weekend. Both Cavan and Cork lost their semi-finals by a single point and both sets of managers were highly critical of refereeing decisions that went against them and subsequently cost them their games. Galway hurling manager was also critical of the lack of an advantage in hurling following their loss to Kilkenny.
Cavan’s Peter Reilly was very vocal with the decisions that went against Cavan. He was clearly disgruntled that a player received a yellow card as opposed to a black card and the resultant player kicked Dublin’s equalizing score. Cork’s Sean Hayes was also unhappy with the referee saying “you just want fair play, I don’t think we got it”, and how he felt his team were “hard done by” not to get a chance to equalise having gone a point down injury. It may come across as sour grapes or legitimate arguments but let’s hope referees aren’t the talking point during the summer’s championship when games are won and lost in tight contests.
Training camp over League Final?
Another interesting announcement came from Clare football manager Colm Collins this week. As we mentioned above, Clare will face Tipperary in the Division 4 football league final but dual players Pádraic and Seán Collins will not be available as they will be going on a training camp with the Clare hurlers to Portugal. It seems strange that two players who make themselves available for both hurling and football will miss a final ahead of going on a training camp. It would seem that Davy Fitzgerald has intervened.
The main point here is to wonder how many players will actually manage to play a dual role come the championship. In Cork, Aidan Walsh, Eoin Cadogan and Damien Cahalane have featured for both hurlers and footballers. The Collins brothers in Clare are the other example. When push comes to shove it will be interesting to see if management will continue to allow players to spend time away from training as big games draw closer. The fact that both Collins’s are missing a final ahead of training suggests that attempts to accommodate both definitely won’t please everyone.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.