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  • KNEEJERK: Our Controversial Columnist Knows Exactly Who Is To Blame For Galway Loss

KNEEJERK: Our Controversial Columnist Knows Exactly Who Is To Blame For Galway Loss

KNEEJERK: Our Controversial Columnist Knows Exactly Who Is To Blame For Galway Loss
By Sean Og O Kneejerk Updated

As alluded to last week, Sean Óg is extremely quick to compliment himself when his predictions come through, no matter how obvious those predictions seem to others. 

For instance, when Kilkenny do indeed go on to win a hurling match, Sean Óg shakes his head in amazement and contemplates how he keeps on getting these things so right.

Galway hurling losses allow Sean Óg to indulge in one of his favourite past-times, namely, blaming everything on Joe Canning.  

Sean Óg operates on the principle that there is no Galway error, no matter where on the field it occurs, that can't be blamed on Canning.    

If Canning barrels through three defenders before flicking the ball into a man in space who then proceeds to drive a bad wide, Sean Óg wonders aloud as to why the hell Joe didn't take the shot on himself.

If a Galway corner back mucks up a clearance, Sean Óg demands to know why Canning wasn't showing for the ball.

He is obsessed by the tired debate about where to play him. Sean Óg's opinions on where to play Canning alter depending upon what has just occurred in a match, though he acknowledges no flip-flopping on his part.  

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If Joe is crowded out in the full-forward line, swamped by defenders and not seeing much ball, then Sean Óg berates him for his anonymity and for not coming out the field and showing proper leadership. 

When Joe does deign to come out the field in search of action, and the ball is shortly afterwards pumped into the full-forward line, Sean Óg goes what we can only describe as apoplectic with rage, and demands to know why the hell Joe isn't on the edge of the square.

Indeed, having watched a number of Galway hurling matches in his presence, we have reason to suspect that Canning is the only Galway player who Sean Óg knows.  

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He consistently mis-attributes wides and misplaced passes to Canning, lacing the TV screen in spittle and screaming that Portumna's finest is most overrated person ever to walk the planet.

When any nearby punters suggest that it might have been Cathal Mannion or Conor Whelan who missed that one, Sean Óg has already moved on, his face betraying no hint of embarrassment or even acknowledgment that he may have got it wrong.

If Sean Óg was ever to be appointed editor of the Irish Times (an unlikely thought experiment, it must be admitted) then the Corrections and Clarifications section would be removed from the layout.     

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Yesterday, Joe had a game that he will happily wipe from the memory bank. To say he exerted a minimal influence on proceedings would be to overstate his impact yesterday. Sean Óg had one of those rare days.

For years and years, the media have been telling us that this lad is the business. So many people have bought into the propaganda. He's never off the television, never off the bloody billboards. He'll rocket in 2-12 from play against Westmeath and we have to endure men on the radio telling us he's the bees knees.

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And then when he comes up against Kilkenny, when the time comes for him to really do his stuff, he goes missing. If you hadn't seen the team line-out beforehand, you'd think he was injured. He might tap over a few frees, but that's about it.

The boy is an absolute genius as long as there is no one standing beside him. It's when other players take the trouble to tackle him (the philistine bastards) that's when things depart from the script and begin going wrong.

Ger Loughnane called him the Billy Beane of hurling a couple of years back. Now, I don't know who Billy Beane is but I'd trust Ger Loughnane's judgement. I'd assume that Ger is rightly pointing out that Canning is too soft and not able to hack it on the big day.

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He's all flash and no hardness. A player can have all the talent in the world but if he hasn't the toughness, it'll all be for naught.

What Galway need now above all else is someone like Brendan Lynskey...

Sean Óg loves Brendan Lynskey. In the past 25 years, there has been no Galway defeat in the championship that hasn't been speedily followed by an assertion from Sean Óg that what the westerners are really missing is someone in the mould of Brendan Lynskey.

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That's what Galway hurling has been missing for the past two decades. They can have all the flashy, tricky hurlers they like but they're wasting their time until they got someone of the calibre of Lynskey in the half-forward line, someone who can win ball, break ball, and stop the Kilkenny half-back line lording it.

There's a great story from the 1988 All-Ireland semi-final. Michael Duignan was only 20 years of age and was playing his first year of senior inter-county hurling.

Whatever clown of a manager Offaly had at the time, he sent the young lad in to mark Lynskey. Nervous as a kitten, the slight little fella Duignan walked up to his mark before the game. He stretched out his hand to greet Lynskey before the match started.

Lynskey glared at him and said 'A mhaicin, what are you doing here? The minor match is over.' (Sean Óg had to stop at this point, after collapsing in laughter. His laughing fit went on for several minutes and it took him a while to regain his composure). Anyhow, seconds after the throw-in, Lynskey stuck an elbow into Duignan's face and tore off down the field to collect the ball.

That mentality is gone from Galway these days. They don't intimidate the opposition anymore. Quite the opposite, it's guys like Fennelly who are intimidating them.

I heard the great man (Lynskey) say last year, nice guys win fuck all. That's from a man who knows.

As ever, Galway defeats tend to provoke a curious kind of moralistic criticism. Epithets like 'gutless' and 'cowardly' are deployed liberally. Players from other counties tend to be spared this sort of abuse. But there is something about Galway - perhaps the surfeit of underage talent and the corresponding lack of success at senior - that invites this type of outraged criticism. This situation is exacerbated this year by the coup against Anthony Cunningham, a move that Sean Óg, in common with many among his generation, regards as especially disgusting. The truth is that Anthony Cunningham's stock has risen greatly since the Galway players dumped him last year. Like Andy Reid in 2009, his reputation is bolstered every time he doesn't manage Galway in a big game. The players putsch may well have sealed his reputation as a managerial near-great. 

But of course, we know who is to blame for today's loss. It's Anthony Cunningham, of course. He's down in Laois but his influence is no doubt still there, holding the Galway players back, retarding their development.

It's not that the Galway players are weak and have no bottle and failed to stand up in the second half. There's always someone else to blame.

    

As for the Munster Football Final, Sean Óg simply refused to accept that it could be properly classed as a Munster Final, a stance which almost got him into trouble with a few Tipperary galoots who dropped in for a pint during the game.

Sean Óg spent much the second half, repeating the phrase 'it's not the same, it's not the same' in a rather keening tone. This excited the Tipp natives in the establishment, who proceeded to 'question' Sean Óg about his viewpoint. While the scuffle between barman and Tipp fan raged behind him, Sean Óg never looked around, continuing to sip nonchalantly from his pint.  

The Kerry-Tipperary match wasn't competitive at all. An early goal but you're only postponing the inevitable. Sure enough, Kerry had the game tucked away by half-time. It's the plain truth that it just isn't the same when Kerry are playing a team other than Cork in a Munster Final.

I was just acknowledging that. It's not my fault if overly-sensitive Tipperary lads who've several pints on board don't take kindly to the truth being spoken. One of these clowns in a Finches jersey squared up to me and told me I was talking shite and that I should shut up.

Full marks to Sean (barman), he got in the face of this ludramán from Mullinahone and laid it on the line for him. He told he could either sit down or get out. Eventually, Sean had to usher them out of the bar.

Sean Óg Ó Kneejerk was in conversation with Conor Neville 

Read more: Kneejerk: This Man Is Hopping Mad That Bruce Springsteen Led To Such A Crap GAA Weekend

Read more: QUIZ: Can You Identify These 9 Irish Grounds From The Road Outside?


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