In this week’s Championship Matters column, Steven Miller picks out the five things that are annoying him during this GAA season.
By now we’ve seen every team - hurling and football - in championship action.
There are already eight teams gone from the football championship, Limerick included, and by next weekend there will be four gone from the hurling.
Like every championship summer, it’s been a bit of a slow-burner but there’s still been enough to keep us interested. But there’s been plenty too to frustrate the bejaysus out of us. Here’s my Top 5 Pet Hates of the championship so far.
1. Sunday Game analysts not being at the actual game
On Sunday week last Limerick hosted Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds while Kilkenny played Wexford in Nowlan Park. It was the biggest day of the hurling championship so far but RTE had their Sunday Game analysts buried in a studio in Dublin that couldn’t have had any less atmosphere if they tried. Imagine. Ger Loughnane and Tomas Mulcahy drove from Clare and Cork to look at the games on the telly in Dublin. We understand it’s cheaper but we can’t accept that they can analyse the game fully when they’re not actually there.
2. Irregular hurling games
When it comes to the hurling championship fixtures, it’s either a feast or a famine. The weekend just gone we had no hurling games; the weekend before there were three, all on live TV (Limerick-Tipperary; Kilkenny-Wexford; Galway-Laois); the week before that there were none. Next week we have four qualifier games and the Leinster final. The bad championship structures is a column for another day but surely a system can be devised where there is at least one hurling game every Sunday. There are few enough fixtures as it is without having two weekends in June where there are no games at all.
3. Media blame game
After Tipperary beat Limerick, one of the theories putout as to why Tipp had been so impressive was that they didn’t have a press event before the game. Former Limerick manager Donal O’Grady brought it up on the Sunday Game that night and it was peddled in many other places too. These press gigs are usually about ten days before a game, are generally non-descript and take little over an hour. Hardly the winning and losing of a championship game. Tipp kept their heads down and didn’t bother with silly interviews, we were told. Really? Who was spread across Pages 2 and 3 of the Sunday Times on the morning of the game then in a lengthy interview with Denis Walsh? None other than Tipp’s outstanding centre-back Padraic Maher. It obviously didn’t do him any harm.
4. Complicated championship draws
We nearly got a headache last Monday morning listening to the Qualifier draws on Morning Ireland. There were so many stipulations that even the GAA officials on hand couldn’t hold back the laughter. Why the need for so many restrictions? Why keep the Leinster and Munster teams apart in the hurling draw? Why are teams that have already met in the hurling championship kept apart but not in the football? Consistency? The GAA don’t know the meaning of the word.
5. The Galway Question
The fact that there are no other top-quality hurling teams in Connacht isn’t Galway’s fault. Galway are wanted in Leinster to strengthen the senior competition but aren’t allowed play home games. Their minor and U-21 teams aren’t wanted either. Yet who is that we see are fixed to play Kilkenny in the Leinster intermediate championship this week? Yes, you guessed right. Galway. Consistency? See my comment above.