This blog rarely (if ever) makes reference to sport, but for once I’ll break this trend and comment on the so-called sporting event that has just taken place in Croke Park.
The recently amended Rule 42 and the long abolished ban on GAA members playing foreign sports were both enacted as defence mechanisms for the Gaelic Athletics Association. The logic behind both rules was that the popularity of soccer and rugby was inversely proportionate to the popularity of Gaelic games. As such, the organisation did what it felt was necessary to discourage support of any nature for any sport that wasn’t of the Gaelic variety and so the likes of Rule 42 were brought into place.
Of course, the abolition of the foreign sports ban (which prohibited GAA members from even being a spectator at non-Gaelic sports) in the 1970s did not lead to any mass-migration from the GAA, in fact since the ban was lifted the organisation has gone from strength to strength (much to the joy of those who staked their reputations on having the rule removed in the first place).
Today the GAA management must be equally relieved.
Whatever fear of Gaelic sports being forever overshadowed by the might of soccer must have been quickly dispelled as thousands at Croke Park and around the country sat down to feast upon one of the most horrendous displays of the sport ever thought possible.
The Republic of Ireland were dreadful and Wales were even worse with both teams managing to capture the very essence of what makes a bad soccer game unbearable. The RoI, as they tend to do, made a solitary break relatively early, got a goal from it and then, or so it seemed at least, took their seats with the rest of the audience to watch the second half.
But was there a positive amongst the 90 minutes of negatives? Perhaps Robbie Keane’s yellow card, even though he didn’t really do anything for it. The way I see it there’s now no way that Staunton can play him and maybe, just maybe, he might realise after Wednesday’s match just how little he brings to the table.
I didn’t agree with Roy Keane’s rant on a Dublin bias in the FAI but I do agree with his point that some senior players are living off their past reputations. Robbie Keane is the single strongest example of this sickness with the RoI camp and from what I could see of his few attempts with the ball today (and in previous matches) he no longer has the nerve to be in the team, let alone lead it.