Examiner Sports Column September 26 2008

October 2, 2008

Footnotes to a
season’s history

(DAVID Foster Wallace died last week; the American novelist was known for his enthusiasm for tennis, use of footnotes while writing and philosophical musings on infinity. We thought we’d pay tribute to one of those enthusiasms today. And it’s
neither tennis nor infinity.)

Kerry’s defeat at the hands of
Tyrone last Sunday has opened up the debate* about the team of the decade, if that’s a discussion you care to join.

It might be more interesting to talk** about the state of Gaelic football in the wake of last Sunday. It was end-to-end stuff in Croke Park, with some fine individual scores, but there was also plenty of wayward kicking and poor option-taking on show^^.

That said, it was a vast improvement in terms of entertainment¹ on a
couple of other games this season, with most people now anxious to have the hour and a half they devoted to Kildare-Fermanagh, for instance, returned to them forthwith². This isn’t meant, by the way, to be another
version of the hurling is better than football debate, either“. Just a statement of fact.

Although . . . at least the best of the country’s hurlers aren’t decamping to another continent to parade in front of representatives of another sport who are utterly uninterested in the welfare of Gaelic football.

But that’s another story. Tune in next week.†

FOOTNOTES:

*Debate might be a strong word. Call it a case of clinging to straws if you’re from Kerry, and a matter of preening your feathers if from Tyrone. As for the rest of the GAA world, does the term ‘team of the decade’ register on anyone’s radar as even the most tenuously worthwhile title?

And hold your nose if you do. There is a willingness to make this
into a ‘well, my team’s less cynical than yours’ kind of argument, in which certain players are brought forth as examples of clean living and candidates for sainthood which are at odds with their usual demeanour . . .

** . . . bringing us nicely to Mr Aidan O’Mahony. Not content with establishing self as the Tom Daley, if not actually the Greg Louganis, of the GAA, the sometimes less than perpendicular centre-back told crowds at the Kerry homecoming that Cork wouldn’t win the All-Ireland while he and Tom
O’Sullivan were on the Kerry team.

Son, when you’re in a hole, the first lesson is to stop digging . . .

Something that’s worth mentioning and of itself. The time has long gone when football teams went up and down the field; most senior intercounty sides now take their cue from Ray Wilkins and his memorable crab-like passing. Though the uninformed call this a patient build-up, this is precisely why they are, in fact, called the uninformed . . .

^^Truly one of the great expressions when it comes to sport. It’s as if each player had a sheet of paper in his hand as he bore down on goal (OPTIONS: A. Kick ball over bar. B. Kick ball wide. C. Drop ball. Tick as appropriate). And that the funereal silence of the exam hall pervaded. And there wasn’t half-a-ton of snorting
opponent hurtling after you, etc, etc.

¹Yes, we are all quite aware that if it’s entertainment you want you should go to the circus. Or buy the Season Five DVD box set of The Wire. But still.

²That was truly tragic, if you recall. Don’t feel too bad if you don’t, either, because the mind has a habit of blocking out trauma that horrific.

“ Funny, though, how those flying the flag for the big ball seem to view anyone with a partiality for hurling as somehow representing the views of hurling aficionados everywhere.
Kudos to the man who texted this column after the hurling final to say — with a near-audible sigh — that it was up to the football to rescue the GAA season.

Fair enough. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, no?

The best laugh about the Compromise-Rules-Greco-Roman-WWF game is the continually-touted line that the players want it.

Would you think so? Really? Given it involves a free trip to Australia, wouldn’t it be a little surprising if they didn’t?

†I’ll be here. Even if some of our footballers aren’t.

Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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