Examiner sports column 8 February 2008

March 21, 2008

Apocalypse now and all the time

TEDDY HOLLAND was in Limerick last Sunday, running the rule over the Shannonsiders’ football team as they took on Louth in the National Football League.

Any other season it would look a shrewd move, sizing up the championship opponents early in spring, filing away a weakness or a liability for use on the hard grounds of summer. Par for the course for any new manager, eager to learn.

In the context of 2008… well, as a scene it looks ripe with symbolism at first glance — the lone appointee, marooned in his seat up in the stands and shut out from the proper habitat of the manager: the sideline.

Of course, Holland is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t: go to the game and he’s open to accusations of presumption; stay at home and he’s indicted for not taking his responsibilities seriously.

On second glance, though, who could blame anyone for wanting to get away from Cork for a while right now?

It is fair to say that an atmosphere of fear and loathing has hung over the Rebel County this past few weeks. Furtive commun-
ications. Avoiding certain places frequented by persons of partisan intent. Wild rumours. Extravagant sums of money and outrageous personal habits being dragged into the mix. Marches through the streets. Threats that have been veiled, and threats that have been not so much unveiled as parading around with a rose between the teeth and a jewel sparkling in the navel.

With all of that in mind, a comment Kieran Mulvey made yesterday chimed a little with us. The Labour Relations Commission CEO said simply that some time, this dispute would end.

That’s difficult to see now, of course. Right now we’re in the middle of it, and along the lines of another Cork man and another dispute, it’s hard to see the exact resolution: you’re either on one side or the other. (We’re referring to Roy Keane and his expulsion from Saipan there, of course. In the interests of everyone’s general health we don’t feel any excess tension generated by forcing readers to guess someone’s identity is helpful.)

What kind of end remains to be seen. At the time of writing, we’re as far away from a resolution as we ever were — or as close to one if you want to be optimistic. The board’s decision to reveal details of the negotiations may not be helpful in the short term — to put it mildly, given the reaction the last time a memorandum of understanding from the negotiations appeared in the public domain — but hard evidence of flexibility of any kind on both sides will be manna from heaven to those who aren’t sure if their red jerseys will see any action this side of 2009.

Because those involved will have to work with each other again at some stage. Not all, and not willingly, but at some point, there’ll be an end to the fighting and everyone left standing will be expected to face in the same direction.
Teddy Holland’s trip to Limerick wasn’t the only sighting of the new Cork football management team last weekend, by the way.

Some of the new selectors were at a removal where they ran into some of the footballers with whom they’re currently at loggerheads. The social courtesies were observed, as one would expect from both sides, even if there were no cosy chats.

As evidence of a thaw on either side it wouldn’t be admissible as evidence, but it’s reassuring nonetheless that the impasse could be filed under business rather than personal.

This impasse is going to end at some point. And we don’t say that in imitation of the bloodthirsty Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, boot-deep in Viet Cong gore and sniffing the napalm in the morning, lamenting the end of a conflict.

We’re looking for the end. We’re looking forward to the end.

Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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