It is unwise to be too sure of one’s wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err - Mahatma Gandhi.
When rugby went professional the IRFU decided that Connacht would be classed as a development team. Oover the years they have struggled to convince those who hold the power that they should be given better financial support in order to advance their chances of success and keep their best players. It got so bad a few years ago that they could only offer their coaching staff one year contracts because they didn’t know if they had a future.
Last Saturday evening in Edinburgh they upset all the odds by claiming their first title against a much fancied Leinster. The Pro12 title may not be considered as the big time but you can be assured that the other three provinces would have loved to pick it up considering the season they have come through.
Connacht have, just like Leicester City, come through against all the odds. They have a couple of star players but their success has been based on a team ethic, playing to their strengths but always for the good of the group.
Even when it came down to lifting the cup it was left to their longest serving player, John Muldoon, who has been there for all the bad days, giving him the honour on the big day shows the team ethic and camaraderie that exists.
If it wasn’t for the people who love and support Connacht rugby they would have been put out to pasture in the early 2000s. They kept at it, growing their fan base, putting development squads in place, getting business involved in both sponsorship but also supporting individual players to come and play. Their existence has been built on hard work and now with a little bit of success all those hard days have been worth it. Over the last year or so most of their games are a sell-out. If the boys in the meeting rooms of the IRFU had got their way last Saturday would not have happened and generations of players and supporters would never had got a chance.
While those who were making the call were probably only looking at the financial implications, more often than not the thing to do is not because of the money it is for the game itself.
BROLLY LETS RIP
Joe Brolly was at it again last weekend. This time he decided to have a go at Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney. He let rip after Cavan had defeated Armagh in what was a lacklustre display to say the least from the one time kingpins of Ulster football.
Brolly laid the blame totally at the feet of the former All-Ireland winning captain suggesting “that being a great player isn’t necessarily a qualification for being a great manager.” I’m not sure he thought a lot about that considering that the last three winning All-Ireland managers have all been players.
Of course, all too often we have listened to these rants. He let rip at Sean Cavanagh over a tackle he made in a game in Croker; his criticism of Cavanagh was over the top and from an ex-player totally unacceptable., His infamous comments about Marty Morrissey and Cavan football; a lot of his comments border a bit on the insulting side and do nothing for either the programme and certainly not the game. In fact, I would suggest it seems to be controversy for the sake of it.
His attack on McGeeney just didn’t stop on the performance of his team on the day. He questioned why the Crossmaglen players were not playing for Armagh; he seemed to have the answer. After watching the brilliant BBC programme recently on the Crossmaglen club, I doubt they need Joe or anyone else to speak on their behalf and might not be best pleased with the implication that they were not playing for Armagh because of McGeeney and the way he runs the squad.
Whether or not McGeeney is up to the job only time will tell. The Armagh Co. Board gave him a five year contract to put everything in place so Armagh would be great again. McGeeney is Armagh through and through and I have no doubt he wants the best for his players and most of all, his county. No one deserves to be attacked in such a manner regardless of whether or not the programme presenters feel they have the right to do it or not. Would they have a go at the Dublin or Kerry manager? They would in their eye. There would be uproar.
It’s the same when we hear from soccer or rugby pundits. Some of them give a brilliant non personal analysis; if they see something wrong they don’t attack the person; they attack either team selection or tactics. Some don’t; they tackle the man. Not good enough, especially when those they attack do not get the same opportunity to defend themselves or answer the criticism.
To be fair to the RTE programme they did have a good conversation on the club versus county debate and how county managers are dictating when county players can play for their club. Is it not too late? Has the house not bolted on that one? That argument could have been made 20 years ago but at least highlighting the problem might encourage those that make all the big decisions consider their fixture programme.
As Gandhi said, we don’t get it right all the time but if we learn from our mistakes we might get it right sometime.