Sunday, January 31, 2016

Update 31st January

‘Beginning of the end for Club football?’

Above was the dramatic headline of a letter published this week in the Roscommon Herald, sport’s section page 16. It is a long and thoughtful letter, written by Padraic Mitchell a former GAA player and ongoing enthusiast. It should be of interest to a lot of people in the GAA community especially players. The sentiments have been around for quite a while now but the problem is that while the problems are well known and many people in the hierarchy of the GAA have waffled on about them NOTHING changes and the issues continue. Not alone do they continue but they are getting worse.
 Padraic structures his letter on two main points. The first deals with the length of the playing season resulting in the lack of a reasonable closed season for recovery with one season almost morphing into the next. Padraic suggests that this results in the welfare of the individual players being seriously compromised as a consequence.
His second point has not been spoken of much though it is emerging as players begin to take personal responsibility for their lifestyle and the demands that playing GAA games have for them and their families.
“The average age of club players is dropping yearly as a consequence". Players can only stay with the demands for so long. “Club players are no longer willing to dedicate themselves to their club for ten months of the year. They have grown disillusioned with the club fixture calendar. Work and family commitments are now being prioritised. …..Players are finding it increasingly difficult to justify playing for their clubs’ ” taking into account the games erratic timetable, demanding training schedules et al.  
I imagine that this extends to playing for county teams also. This was evidenced in Longford where quite a number of players, according to reports, declined to become part of the county panels at the beginning of the year, whenever that was! The status and glamour of playing for the county is being diminished by the demands involved.
The reality is that at inter- county level the efforts put in by Donegal to win their All-Ireland in 2012 were incredible for an amateur group. That could only be sustained for a short term, perhaps not more than the one year. The efforts being put in by Dublin seem extraordinary and this is being replicated perhaps by say Mayo and Kerry. The thing with those counties is that there is a possibility of winning an All-Ireland, so it seems justified. The preparations of many counties, whose chance of winning an All-Ireland are slim, are also demanding without any real prospect of the ultimate reward. It is hard to credit how players in such counties give so much commitment in those situations. I’ve strayed from Padraic’s theme there.
The problems of ‘burn-out’, overlapping competitions, demands on a particular cohort of top young players, the role of competing managers, the confusion that develops with the fixture dates even if a club fixture’ master plan’ is put in place and other issues make the sacrifices enormous. Such players have almost to forfeit their entire social lives and are tied to the tyranny of training and ‘preparation’. It is remarkable how many still answer the call and find it irresistible. 
 A huge issue that does not get the consideration it deserves is the treatment of ‘ordinary’ club players who are caught in the sandwich of demands for the ‘top’ players which disrupts schedules which become erratic at best and often wander into the late winter. I don’t know a lot about the GPA but I believe the GPA only represents County Players if it represents anyone. It does not seem to me to have made inroads into the core issues involving players playing the game. 
Anyway Padraic Mitchell feels that players will have the ultimate say and difficult as it is they will choose as a number are in fact doing. I haven’t been able to use the word enjoy/enjoyment in this somewhat unwieldly essay. If you can try and catch up with Padraic Mitchell’s letter.  

Kris Kristofferson

On Wednesday night I attended a concert in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, featuring Kris Kristofferson. It is difficult to credit that Kris is 79 years of age. He has had a long and crowded career with many achievements. While some people have reservations about his singing voice there is universal acceptance that he is responsible for many great songs. He has written and recorded such classics as “Me and Bobby McGee,"  "For the Good Times,"  "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" and "Help Me Make It through the Night." 
On Wednesday night he came on stage at 8 and without introductions he must have sang/sung over thirty songs until he concluded at about 9.30. This was an ’added’ third night concert after the first two night sold out. The proceeds from this night were being donated to ‘ChildLine’. 
While he began a little creaky he came through after a few songs and while I was not familiar with many of the songs the set was interspersed with very familiar classic numbers. Obviously much of the crowd were more familiar with the non- classics than I was as could be gleaned from the receptions for them. It was a very rewarding experience and I have now been to concerts of a most of those I regard in that genre, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Gordon Lightfoot, Ralph McTell and in a different category Leonard Cohen and Niall Young. A singer I missed when she was in Dublin about eighteen months ago was Joan Baez.   

  "Sunday Morning Coming Down"

Well I woke up Sunday mornin', with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt
 And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more, for dessert
 Then I fumbled through my closet, for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt
 And I shaved my face and combed my hair and, stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

 I'd smoked my brain the night before, on cigarettes and songs that I'd been pickin'
 But I lit my first and watched a small kid cussin' at a can, that he was kickin'
 Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken
 And it took me back to somethin', that I'd lost somehow somewhere along the way

 On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin' Lord, that I was stoned
 'Cause there's something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
 And there's nothin' short of dyin', half as lonesome as the sound
 On the sleepin' city side walks, Sunday mornin' comin' down

 In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little girl who he was swingin'
 And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin'
 Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin'
 And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

 On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin' Lord, that I was stoned
 'Cause there's something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
 And there's nothin' short of dyin', half as lonesome as the sound
 On the sleepin' city side walks, Sunday mornin' comin' down 

I imagine that for a number of people who have experienced the good Saturday night and faced the consequences on the Sunday morning many of the sentiments in this Kristofferson song will be recognisable especially when one has to face the reality of being alone in the unforgiving near empty streets of the Sunday city.    

Best wishes to Marc

We wish Marc Egan all the best on The Voice of Ireland Blind Auditions this Sunday evening, RTE One TV. The show extends from 6.30 to 8. 
Meeting Former Players
I am always pleased to meet former footballers who are back in Boyle for family events, regrettably most notably at funerals. Recently I met Seamie Downes who was a member of the Boyle junior team which won the county championship in 1964. He was home from England for the funeral of his brother Eamon. Also there was Paraic Downes, nephew of Eamon, who was part of a very good under-age team in the mid- nineties and I remember him scoring a cracking goal in a county under 16 semi-final versus Padraig Pearse's in Oran. Alas, despite his goal, we lost that one narrowly. In the last week at the funeral of Paddy Joe O’Gara I met, for the first time, T.P. Mullaney who played for Boyle in the early fifties and for Roscommon circa 1956. 
Social Issues
I see a Sudanese ‘doctor’ being sanctioned by the medical supervisory authorities after a pretty long hearing.  He had served in a number of hospitals where his deficiencies were noted but continued to get employed at further hospitals. Why there was no hospital to hospital consultation on his questionable abilities is hard to comprehend.
I remember a person I was with in London once in a situation where he was looking for some entitlement and getting really questioned asking his interrogator; 
“Why don’t you ask me my blood group?”
Interrogator; “Why would I do that?” 
To which my colleague responded; “Well you’ve asked me everything else”. 

Foster Care Issue

I see an emerging case of the abuse of vulnerable woman who was placed in a foster home from 1989 until 2009 when issues with the particular home had been red flagged in the mid ‘90s’. It is suggested that there has been a HSE cover up on the case. So it is a question of watch this space.
One of the consistent sentiments expressed after the exposure of terrible situations is that “we must learn from this case and make sure that it doesn’t happen again”. But the reality is that they DO happen again and again and…

The Banking Enquiry

A headline in today’s Sat. Independent suggests that the Crash in this country a few years ago was “More Calamity and Chaos than Conspiracy”.  Perhaps. But could we ever again field a team as inept as Neary, the Financial regulator; Hurley, Central Bank Governor plus the CEOs and Boards of the Banks, the financial commentator wizards (many of whom are still pontificating) and the singing politicians aided by the ‘soft landing’ advocates and our ‘friends’ in Europe who nailed us to the cross.
All the ducks certainly came in a row then and there. 
Now we must ensure that we learn from it all to ensure that it never happens again. 
Can you believe that?

‘Spotlight’ Film to See

The film reviews that I have tripped across, suggests that a film not to miss is the current release ‘Spotlight’ which deals with paedophilia clergy in Boston. The investigative content of the film has been compared with one of my favourite films and one of the great films of that genre ‘All the President’s Men’. ‘Spotlight’ is on at least until Thursday, Feb. the 4th at 6 and 9. 
Another fine film being shown this week is ‘Room’ which has so much of an Irish connection.
Brooklyn is showing on Sunday at 4 while Star Wars is on Sunday also at 12.
It is good to support Carrick Cineplex especially after their travails with the flooding in the run-up to Christmas.



No comments:

Post a Comment