Ignorance or Irrelevance 2019

January 7, 2019

by Barry McAllister

This year is going to be some craic.

With new rules, new problems and episodes involving pitch narrowing by media companies and venue disputes will arise somewhere along the line throughout the next 12 months.

I would like to start off by wishing all my readers a Happy and Peaceful New Year, filled with many prosperous opportunities.

It’s at times like Christmas that we all generally think back and look on what we have, and appreciate those who are in our company.

It’s also a time to move and think forward. Now personally, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions. I believe that if I really want to change that much, I don’t need a holiday or a special date to ignite a desire to do this that or the other in my life.

I do, however, think forward, and like many at this time of the year, I think forward to the season ahead. 

Within the next few months, we’ll be treated to the ending of the Pre-Season tournaments and of course, the National League. 

It’s quite amazing to think that the Inter County season had begun before we had even ordered our Christmas Turkeys. It just seems like yesterday that we watched yet another Dublin All-Ireland Final and here we are again, ready to kick it off for another season.

These Pre-Season tournaments, their offerings are nothing to be taken seriously. They’re there to offer managers a chance to try out new legs, to see what young fellas there is in the clubs and give them an opportunity to showcase themselves to the county.

And that’s really about the height of it.

The games attract few people, which is a shame because it’s a bit of entertainment and a distraction in the long and cold winter nights and Sunday afternoons. 

After that, they really do provide little indicator as to how any team is going to perform in the seasons to come.

Next, the National League.

I’ve a lot of good memories from these games… I’ve seen some good games in Clones on cold Sunday afternoons when I should have been home doing homework or studying for a test, but sure isn’t it a better use of time to go down and see Aidan O’Shea or Brian Fenton in my own back garden?

While the games are of a brilliant quality by times, they’re still only useful for that period of the season: Before Championship.

“There are two times of year: Championship, and waiting for the Championship”

We all know that the League is far from Championship, yet, very often people use it as a gauge to determine just how the Championship will play out, and there’s little correlation between the two.

A team with a good League performance doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to have a good Championship run, and it goes the other way around.

Last season, the wonder story was Galway.

They had a very good run in the League, making it to the Final where they couldn’t manage to get past Dublin.

Throughout the course of the League, they proved to be a well put together side, led by the talented and able Damien Comer. 

But it just didn’t stretch the whole way through.

Their opening game in the Connacht Championship was against a Mayo side that lost their spark, and prevailed as rightful winners.

After sweeping Sligo aside, they were lucky to even come out on the right end of the final after running it tight with Roscommon.

They’re Super 8 run was greeted with a victory over Kerry that were in all sorts of bits and pieces, before just getting past Kildare by 3 points. 

This was enough to secure themselves a place in an All Ireland Semi Final, and they were then defeated by Monaghan in the following game as they too progressed to the last 4. 

The Semi Final was a sad occasion. Dublin ran out winners, and deservedly so. Galway never actually looked like they could defeat them or even as much as catch up.

The hype that surrounded Galway was quite amazing before the Championship. People believed because they drew with Dublin and made it to a League final that they were the only team out there with the ability to stop them.

I didn’t see it.

Last year, Monaghan actually beat Dublin, the only team along with Kerry to do so in the last number of seasons.

All the shouts came about Galway but yet, in three meetings, they couldn’t manage to defeat the All-Ireland Champions.

Monaghan are guilty of this themselves.

It’s happened before. In 2017, Monaghan had a brilliant League campaign, beating Kerry and Mayo away, drawing with Donegal, and just falling short against Dublin in Clones.

Jack McCarron was in super form and was being hailed as one of the best forwards in the country and the team were being tipped ahead of Tyrone to win the Ulster Championship.

Then the Championship came and they fell to pieces.

They just about managed to pull away from Fermanagh in the Preliminary round before surviving a serious shock against Cavan in the Quarter Final. 

Then, they suffered defeat to Down in the Ulster Semi-final before embarking on their back-door ventures.

Whatever happened to the Ulster Championship winners tag?

And the exact opposite happened to Roscommon that year.

They had a poor League run and suffered relegation to the second division.

What did they do?

They went on and won the Connaught Championship and gave Mayo a tough All-Ireland Quarter-final to bring it to a replay. 

One’s League standings make no difference what so ever.

Monaghan won the 2013 Ulster Final from a promotion to Division 2 position, defeating All-Ireland Champions Donegal.

The year before, Donegal defeated Mayo to win the All-Ireland from Division 2

All this Pre-Season talk about Galway for Sam, Monaghan for this, Laois for that, it means nothing. 

They’re irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, especially when it comes to the Championship

And people still remain ignorant to it, they believe that the League is a great way to forecast the outcome in August.

I wouldn’t put my money on it

Enjoy the League. It’s nice to think there’ll be a few opportunities to get out and about, and of course, we’ll have the return of Des Cahill and League Sunday on Sunday nights to get us in tune and in form for the Sunday Game in the coming months. 

Ask me how the League will go? I haven’t a clue

Ask me how the Championship will go?

Wait till after the league…