28 May 2009 Edition
More than a game BY MATT TREACY
Giving ‘puke football’ a bad name
SOME people had thought that Pat Spillane, in his righteous indignation last Sunday after the Monaghan-Derry match, might have reverted to his use of the dread ‘P’ word: the name that dare not mention its name, as it were. Puke Football. In fairness, though, you would have to say that the match in Derry even gave Puke Football a bad name.
Dreadful stuff. It had everything. Sly kicks to the back of lads’ legs, headbutts, fans attacking players, knees to the genolockers of lads lying on the ground, spectacular dives that would have brought a tear to the eye of the great Nijinsky with the object of getting an opponent sent off, lads pulling each other around as the ball was being kicked towards them, and our old friend ‘sledging’ as chaps told other chaps of their secret unnatural desire for their opposing number’s sister or cat.
Some would have you believe that this is manly behaviour. Well it is, of course, but then not everything men do is manly in the sense in which that word is generally used to mean behaviour that is honest, brave, honourable and so on. Not too much honour on display there, I’m afraid, and the day that hitting someone from behind comes under the rubric of ‘manliness’ is the day old Doctor Johnson will require disinterring, given a glass of fine Madeira claret and set to revise his dictionary.
WHILE those who were at the match will have seen lots of stuff that was going on, it was the all-seeing eye of the RTÉ cameraman who brought other instances to attention that would otherwise have gone unnoticed to the viewer other than that they might have heard howls of outrage from the crowd and maybe seen someone lying on the ground or holding their head and no one within ten feet of him.
Of course, the cameraman is being blamed by some for having intruded upon some sacred ritual and that when the sons of Ulster decide to blackguard each other, well then, it’s no one’s damn business but their own! Joe Kernan of Armagh and Crossmaglen – hardly a shrinking violet or an advocate of Fancy Dan football – perhaps summed it all up best of all, however, when he said that there was no ‘manliness’ on display in Celtic Park.
People will, of course, claim that anyone who criticises what went on is being anti-Ulster. (Hardly applies to Big Joe, one would have thought.)
It is not anti-Ulster to call a spade a spade and the same stuff goes on elsewhere. It also has to be said that both Derry and Monaghan are well capable of better than that and have displayed it on other occasions. And, if the argument is that this wins games, well maybe they ought to review that again.
ANYWAY, the real championship begins on Saturday with the meeting of Wexford and Offaly in Wexford Park in the Leinster hurling quarter-final, and on Sunday in Thurles with the mouth-watering clash of Tipperary and Cork in the Munster championship.
Wexford and Offaly have played each other twice so far this year in the league but the tempo will be upped at the weekend and I hope to be joining the Da’s neighbours to cheer on the Yellabellies. Although, hopefully, Ciara will not disgrace our seed and breed by wanting to buy another Wexford flag. No offence to Wexford but what if someone was to think it had something to do with Kilmacud Crokes? The shame.
It would be a brave man who would wager on this and the bookies barely separate them with Wexford at slight odds-on purely on the basis, one imagines, of home advantage. I am loathe to make a prediction but I reckon that maybe, just maybe, Offaly have greater potential and that they might just shade it.
Not many are giving Cork a chance against Tipp although they have run up some pretty impressive scores in challenge matches of late and another Ó hAilpín has arrived on the scene. Cork will always put up a fight and especially when faced with the blue and gold. The only question is whether they still have the capability of matching the desire with action.
Tipp proved in the league that they not only have ambitions to spoil Kilkenny’s quest for a four in a row but that they potentially have the capability of doing so. Certainly of any of the contenders they are probably the team with the best chance of beating the Cats this year.
That, however, will not be an issue on Sunday as the primeval battle with Cork resumes. I wouldn’t normally tip up 1/2 shots but it is difficult to see Tipperary not beating Cork. Mind you, many thought the same when they played Waterford last year and Tipperary have fallen flat on several occasions in recent years when much was expected of them. I don’t think they will do so in the cauldron of Semple Stadium.