Yesterday in Mayo, Rob Hennelly was back on a football pitch, donning the Breaffy #1 jersey in a match against Davitts. Breaffy won 2-11 to 0-11 and by all accounts Hennelly was solid in goal (despite some abuse from the sidelines, according to an Off the Ball texter)
Great double save from Robbie Hennelly to prevent a certain Davitts goal, Davitts 0-06 Breaffy 1-07, 34 mins. #gaa
— Paul Cunnane (@p_cunnane) October 8, 2016
Breaffy: 2-11(17)@Davitts_GAA: 0-11(11)
— Breaffy GAA (@BreaffyGAA) October 8, 2016
Hennelly has been firmly trying to put last Saturday's nightmare in the rearview mirror but Joe Brolly is not yet ready to move on from the All-Ireland final replay. It's not so much Hennelly's poor performance in goals versus Dublin that has Brolly venting in this morning's Sunday Independent, but rather his decision to release a statement on social media, explaining where his head was at. Even the reader who worships Brolly for his iconoclastic disdain for soppy sentimentality must agree that the today the Sindo columnist is kicking a man when he's down.
Brolly opines the following.
Rob Hennelly seems a good lad, but was no sooner out of the shower than he was embracing his experience, as though it were some noble tragedy. The sort of guff you might expect to hear on daytime TV from one of the guests who had just been chatting about his love Egyptian cotton pyjamas as he tastes the celebrity chef's black pudding and macaroon sandwich. Or from a motivation guru at the pendulum summit.
It was like a celebrity break-up, save for the face he didn't say he was consciously uncoupling from Mayo. Rob could incorporate this experience into his motivational talks for the GPA and the Web Summit.
Hennelly is the MD of a company called Love Media and his Twitter and Linkedin profiles feature the same photo of him speaking at Web Summit. Hennelly is fully immersed in the world of digital media, so it's perhaps no surprise he reached for social media last Monday afternoon, at least 30 hours after the final whistle Saturday evening.
We sympathise with Brolly's argument to a degree. Old school values of stoicism and introversion have merits that perhaps the sporting culture have forgotten. The world does not need another TED talk. In his piece, Brolly venerates the likes of Damien McCusker and Stephen Cluxton, All-Ireland winning keepers who avoided the limelight. But they are different men from Hennelly. What Brolly blithely castigates as a 'heartwarming PR exercise' is actually a man trying to process and understand a monumental fuck-up on a sports field that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. The culture has shifted from Brolly's day and Hennelly is entitled to seek penance on social media --- it's a small thing compared to carrying the shame of costing Mayo an All-Ireland. Brolly may indeed be right that this Mayo team lack the mentality to get over the line, but for Brolly to mock Hennelly for speaking out about things like reaching out to Cork U-21 keeper Anthony Casey is needlessly cruel and shortsighted.
Still some people seem to enjoy it.