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The Sporting Pedigree Of The New Dáil Is An Absolute Disgrace

The Sporting Pedigree Of The New Dáil Is An Absolute Disgrace
By Gavin Cooney
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Former Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren once said that "I always turn to the sports page first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures".

This has long been cited by sports journalists as justification for covering an aspect of cultural life whose headlines often surround a story of one man refusing to shake the hand of another man rather than, say, politics and current affairs.

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While we here at Balls towers rarely try to set forth the ideal political landscape of the country, we firmly disagree with the separation of sport and state. Sport is one of the few international arenas in which we have not disgraced ourselves since 2008.

Shane Long, for example, has a better record negotiating with Manuel Neuer than Enda Kenny has with Angela Merkel. And it is arguable that our performance at Euro 2012 left us in better esteem in European eyes than Fianna Fáil's non-management of the economy in the 2000s.

In what is probably the apotheosis of Irish politics mixing with sport, an Irish team featuring Leo Varadker and former Garryowen player Jimmy Deenihan beat a House of Commons side at rugby 19-5 in 2013. It was a match which furnished forth one of Ireland's most underrated sportspeople: Anthony Lawlor, a then-TD for Kildare-North, who broke his leg in this beating of Perfidious Albion at their own game.

The 2016 election has sadly since seen this link between sport and politics ruthlessly severed. Jimmy Deenihan, star of that rugby victory against the House of Commons and a former Kerry footballer - who holds five All-Ireland medals and has won six times as many major inter-county titles as there are elected Healy-Rae brothers - has not been re-elected.

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Former Mayo and Leitrim manager John O'Mahony has also not been re-elected.

And the unheralded star of that House of Commons rugby game - Anthony Lawlor - has also not been re-elected.

Such is the miserable extent of the sporting link, the total amount of relatively major medals held by all of the members of the new Dáil comes to one: a Leinster Under 21 football medal won by the man below:

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Peter Fitzpatrick (Louth)

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Peter Fitzpatrick was re-elected in Louth, taking the fifth seat for Fine Gael ahead of Labour's Gerald Nash. Fitzpatrick played with Louth in the 1980s, winning a Leinster Under 21 title in 1981. Fitzpatrick later managed the Louth senior team, and took the Wee County to their first Leinster senior final in 50 years in 2010. Martin Sludden and Joe Sheridan will need no reminding of what happened in that infamous showdown.

Fitzpatrick later managed the Louth senior team and took the Wee County to their first Leinster senior final in 50 years in 2010. Martin Sludden and Joe Sheridan will need no reminding of what happened in that infamous showdown.

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The rest of the TD's links to sport are merely administrative. The most famous of these, of course, is Mick Wallace:

Mick Wallace (Wexford)

Wallace is chairman of Wexford Youths and helped their establishment in 2007, helping to fund the development of their ground, Ferrycarrig Park.  Wallace is probably the only football hipster working on Kildare Street, frequently wearing Torino and Italian football jerseys in the Dail chamber.

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Elsewhere...

Two other TDs have displayed similar sporting tendencies to Mick Wallace. Fine Gael's Joe McHugh of Donegal - most notable for being appointed Minster of State with responsibility for the Gaeltacht without being able to speak Irish - founded a club: he set up Dubai's first GAA club in 1995.

Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central's Jonathan O'Brien has displayed a pre-occupation with his local League of Ireland team as Wallace has: the Irish Times describe him as being a "leading campaigner in the fight to save Cork City in 2009 and 2010".

In more underwhelming administrative capacities, Pat Deering of Fine Gael was chairman of the Carlow county board from 2005-2010, Sean Canney - elected as an Independent TD in Galway-East - was the assistant secretary of Corofin, Fianna Fáil's James Lawless is the PRO of Sallins GAA club in Kildare, Robert Troy (Labour) is the treasurer of Ballynacargy in Westmeath and Fine Gael's Tony McLoughlin is a member of the Sligo Rovers Development Committee.

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Cork South Central's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire appears to be the only deputy to still play at a notable level, as he still plays hurling with St Finbarr's GAA club.

That said, Jack Chambers looks like he played snooker in the 1980s:

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All changed, changed utterly. To our detriment.

See Also: Proof The Public Don't Always Want GAA Players In The Dáil

See Also: Candidate Cake: Shane Curran On Campaigning, The General Election And The 'Disgraceful' Government

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