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On The Road To Nowhere?
With baffling selections and bizarre tactics, fears that Trap may be leading Ireland to a dark, dark, dark place seemed to be confirmed by our last-gasp win against mighty Kazakhstan. The question (rhetorical you suspect) is: can things possibly get any worse?
Craig Fitzsimons, 25 Sep 2012
It being mid-September, it would seem remiss of me not to mention the imminent All-Ireland finals. I watched the drawn hurling final last week, after the fact but blissfully unaware of the result (it was very easy to avoid the result in Warsaw), and found it spectacularly enjoyable from first whistle to last. Though I’d placed a mild wager on Kilkenny winning by a nose-hair, I wasn’t in the least bit unhappy to see Joe Canning lash over Galway’s equalising point from a tricky last-minute free, given that it now brings forth the prospect of another 70 minutes of such fine fare.
As for the football? Donegal have looked increasingly menacing as the year has progressed. They may not be the most strikingly talented collection of players in GAA history, but the organisational levels are astoundingly impressive, illustrative proof of the immense importance of tactics in the modern game. Like an NFL team, they have code-words to bark out at any given moment to signify the next play; Jim McGuinness apparently refuses to sanction a move until it’s been tried and perfectly executed at least six times in training; and they always appear to get stronger and stronger as games go on, which may be a sobering thought for Mayo in view of their near-implosion in the last 20 minutes in the semi against Dublin.
And yet, player-for-player, there is extremely little to choose between the teams. Donegal have developed a habit of winning and don’t look like snapping out of it in a hurry, but it may be that odds of 5/2 against Mayo are significantly over-estimating the difference between the sides. It may even be the case that, at 15/2, you would not be entirely mad to have a punt on the draw. At any rate, Dublin being uninvolved, I can at least sit back and enjoy the thing without particularly giving a toss who wins, a luxury not available when Trap’s troops or the Dubs are engaged in battle. May the best team win.
Any self-pity I might have been tempted to indulge in after a thoroughly horrible week was well and truly banished by the shocking news last Saturday evening of Ulster rugby centre Nevin Spence’s unimaginably horrific death in tragic circumstances. Had he lived, there is little doubt that he was on course for a starring role in the Ireland team over the next few years. Everyone who knew him testifies that he was a lovely bloke; a committed Christian but no Holy Joe, and a lad who, in his short but brilliant life, enriched all those who crossed his path or saw him play. Rest in peace.