Examiner Sports Column October 10 2008

October 19, 2008

Meyler’s Wexford
exit a sign of the times

ANOTHER week, another manager gone. And we’re not even talking about Newcastle United.

John Meyler’s departure from the Wexford hurling hot seat during the week was down to the players, we’re told; it related directly to their dissatisfaction with his management
approach, silence on the bus, etc.

No it wasn’t, said Wexford goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry in this newspaper yesterday, who reiterated his “100%” faith in the departed manager, saying that he was unaware of the supposed player putsch.

In the interests of fairness it should be pointed out that Meyler himself
inclined to the player power reason for his departure, but normally this would be the kind of contradiction that would have everyone salivating, just the kind of mixed message that immediately puts you on notice that this particular coup wasn’t carried out with surgical efficiency. Then again, a lot of the, ah, administrative re-ordering we’re seeing in other spheres at the moment is equally messy.

Given the financial turmoil we all face, this may not be the topic uppermost in every mind, but it makes for an interesting diversion from the impending economic apocalypse. (We refuse to describe same in the usual terms, ie a meltdown. If our finances are going to be compared to anything, it’s not going to be runny cheese).

However, are there any convenient parallels between player power on county teams and the stricken financial institutions we keep reading about? If you likened a team to one of those banks and equated the players to disgruntled shareholders, with a hostile takeover replicated in the form of managerial replacement . . . well maybe all those parallels don’t quite work out.

That said, John Meyler would probably have been quite happy to pocket the $480 million (351m) that Richard Fuld, head of Lehman
Brothers, took home for sending his company into bankruptcy, but we doubt that even the Wexford County Board pays out that kind of expenses.

One obvious point of comparison for the Wexford situation is their near neighbours in Waterford, given the ‘player power’ coup that removed Justin McCarthy not long after a
disappointing defeat to Clare.

Enter Davy Fitzgerald and a first All-Ireland appearance in 45 years,
albeit one that didn’t end happily. It seems to have been forgotten, mind you, that Wexford almost beat Waterford in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Cast your mind back to Thurles, in late July, when a Damien Fitzhenry 21 whistled over the Waterford crossbar at the end. Had it flown six inches lower Wexford would have been through to face Tipperary in the All-Ireland
semi-final.

Despite all that, we’d prefer to draw a rather different parallel and point to a different neighbour of Wexford’s. Reports emerged during the week of the Carlow county board’s inter-county expenses for last year, which amounted to 714,000 for their senior hurlers and footballers. Granted, the Carlow hurlers picked up the Christy Ring Cup, but that figure still represents an increase of 292,000 in total on the overall figure. That’s almost three-quarters of a million euro for a mid-ranking county.

Although the messy departure of Meyler in the last few days will power a few headlines and, no doubt, provoke some whinnying from GAA dinosaurs, it’s the action taking place 30 or 40 miles to the northwest of Enniscorthy that really counts.

If anybody thinks that GAA county boards are proof from financial ruin, they might want to have a look at
unsinkable vessels such as Bear Stearns in the US, or Northern Rock in Britain. The same goes for other
sporting administrative units, be they in rugby, soccer or tiddly-winks.

There could be a lot more gnashing of teeth in the coming months as the credit crunch bites sporting brands which have surfed a decade of good times. If so, you’ll be looking back to issues such as player power with a
wistful glance.

contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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