Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So what's going on in the big world of news. Well the timorous authorities, eager to please as many constituencies as possible. have bailed out the avaricious elites rather than make the more radical change that is required. And, oh yeah, the Government has saved the banking system from collapse.

It's often being stated that democracy is too widespread in the GA.A. But actually the issue of change to the hurling championship shows that this theory can be overstated. If all the competitors in the Leinster hurling championship bar Kilkenny don't want change to their competition ( an All-Ireland proposal that would seek to terminate the provincial championship would be a different matter ) apparently that isn't relevant if the hurling yeomen from the dreary steeples of Tyrone and Fermanagh decree it so. Doubtless if the denizens from the games frontier counties informed Cork and Tipperary that urgent change was required to their southern sacred rite, the big wheels at the Croke Park cracker factory would now be girding their loins to usher in change. I will leave it to the sober reader to gleen if there was sarcasm in the previous sentence.

And the propaganda has been very impressive mark you. Ned Quinn the head honcho at the Hurling Development Committee went on the radio last night to poor mouth the current state of the hurling championship. What's curious about this opinion is that by any fair criteria the competition is in as rude a health as it has been at any stage in the last 50 years, bar probably the Empires repose from 94-98. This year we had a participant in the All-Ireland final that hadn't graced that stage in 45 years. The Galway captain David Collins has confidently expressed the opinion that the change will improve their side. Maybe he will be right, but at least now the final fig leaf may be removed from the theory that Galway's recent lack of success wasn't down to the fact that the players, and specifically the backs, are not of the requisite quality. The decision makers have also been aided in their propagandist efforts by the wailing of Antrim who curiously appear to think that entry to the Leinster Championship will definitely improve their lot. This would be true if they were, by the proposed changes, guaranteed a gradated entry to the summer with, say, a couple of games against Offaly and Dublin. In reality it's eminently possible that the luck of the draw will pit them against their fellow neophytes Galway, and then one of the big beasts of the south.

Now the above polemic might lead the bedraggled reader to believe that this blogger thinks the proposal to re-site Galway and Antrim is a rank bad idea. This isn't the case, but rather our opinion is that the change is, despite the optics of the provincial system being tinkered with, relatively cosmetic. It's the "don't scare the horses" ( unless you're the helpless, powerless, Shetland pony Westmeath type ) variety of championship terraforming. It could well be that the likes of Offaly, Wexford and Dublin are "selfish" as their understanding overlord Nicky Brennan deemed them, and are fearful of Galway's possible arrival in the neighbourhood. But whether they give a damn or not about the aforementioned Lakesiders and Carlow, they can at least rhetorically point out that the putative changes literally sideline these counties for the moment.

So given that the changes are actually, on balance, a detriment to the weaker counties, why are they being proposed, bar to aid Galway, who in fairness don't deserve to exit the championship, on their first loss to another contender. But, as proclaimed by the president, is Joe Canning, kicking his heels( he of the one big championship match ) around the house in June a sufficiently serious reason for change. Another tweak to the system is more to do with avoiding any question of disbandment to the Munster Championship. Some may see the claim that "a winning formula shouldn't be tampered with" as akin to America stating that alls right with the world no matter what goes on in Bukina Faso. But the reality is that there is no desire amongst players and supporters, not to mind the nomenclature, for change in Munster. Thus when Nicky Brennan and his ilk say that the current structures aren't working, it appears they are clinging to the most tangible way of, by procedural hocus pocus, achieving the aim of making the Kilkenny giants play worse. As this corner has stated more than once, the perceived problems with hurling, are starkly as a result, although it can't be baldly enunciated, that the cats are just too good.