GAA

Absurd Pre-Season Competitions Shown Up By FBD League Farce

The Cape Town Affair is a product of the 1960’s infatuation with espionage. The spy film is the first noted use of a now-famous expression. Two spies arrive in South Africa and Academy Award winner Claire Trevor stands on a street alongside a little girl. The girl is observing an extended and calm street performance. She then snarls, and shouts the infamous phrase at the act:

Dance, Monkey, Dance.

It has since ingrained itself in pop culture as the demeaning phrase it now is.

Galway and Mayo were forced to play two games within 48 hours last weekend. Several players were involved in both games, including four starters for Galway. In the case of one player, he played two games in 19 hours due to club commitments. Both the games were on saturated pitches.

Galway coach Kevin Walsh is not to blame for this blatant overburdening of players, a significant portion of whom are also involved with Sigerson Cup preparations. He publicly criticised the handling of the Mayo v Galway FBD League game, which was initially postponed minutes before throw-in and thus played last Friday.

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Galway’s next outing is against Roscommon, the only side they are yet to face in the FBD League. Both teams have already qualified for the final. Roscommon manager Kevin McStay requested that the games be doubled up as one, but the Connacht Council have insisted the round-robin tie be played this Sunday. The final will then be played on February 18th.

Two weeks ago in Ulster, three games were postponed due to the weather. This is inevitable when you try and play football in January. As a result, teams were faced with four games in 11 days to reach a final.

January is the month of grievances within the GAA. As it slowly meanders back into the public’s consciousness, the booming of resolutions infiltrates how they game is considered. New rule proposals are dissected, the fixtures disparaged and in the case of this year, the turmoil an Inter-county player endures publicised.

Despite this, a new master fixture plan and increasing exposure of the club game give reason to be optimistic in 2018. The criticism can seem tedious and contrary to that. But the point is not to hinder the game that we have, it is to improve deserving aspects. At its core, GAA will continue to thrive. It must also be held to a higher standard.

The FBD League is a pre-season tournament. It is heralded as an opportunity to develop fringe players and unearth hidden talent with counties. No manager should be expected to create a squad so large that he can field two teams in 48 hours. To then insist on a dead-rubber being played between two finalists does not serve the players and merely adds insult to injury.

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The gate receipts may serve administrative bodies, but if that is the case it reduces players to instruments exploited in order to strengthen association coffers.

The hurlers of Clare and Limerick faced a similar fate in the Munster League, until the Munster council moved to avoid this faith and canceled the dead rubber. Instead, yesterday’s game operated as the final and Limerick lifted the cup.

Counties have responded to the continuation of pre-season tournaments with the disdain it deserves. Donegal put their under-21s side in the McKenna Cup, Kilkenny did similar in the Walsh Cup. The Dublin and panel went on holiday and left an experimental panel behind, with a different manager. The Kerry and Tipperary footballers, and the Waterford and Tipperary hurlers did not enter a team at all.

But many are still forced to prepare for these tournaments. One top inter-county side trained 15 out of 16 days in December, some of which were two-a-day sessions. Preparations for the league are hampered and players involved exploited.

Is it merely gate receipts or is there other reasons a pre-season dead rubber must be played?

If this is the case, players are reduced to amateur play-actors. Stand-in puppets sent out to bear the dire surfaces. The manner of the handling of these fixtures send a very clear message to the players:

Dance, monkey, dance.

SEE ALSO: Back At 43 And Playing With His Son, A Wicklow Hurling Legend Is Still Thriving







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