There was an interesting comment on our national broadcaster’s website after the Ulster U-21 semi-finals were called off on 29th of March. At the bottom of the report it read - “there was disquiet amongst supporters and the teams involved that the decision was taken so close to the throw-in time”.
It would be fair to suggest that disquiet would not be a strong enough word to use in terms of the mood of supporters, management and players from all four sides. Sure it can be played again but is it really good enough? Is it acceptable that all concerned should be treated in such a fashion? We listen to continuous speeches from every rank of the Association on how important everyone is to the Association, from team managers, trainers, the players and, of course, the supporters; on how the games would be nothing without the fans to create the atmosphere.
With the majority of players involved being students, they would have made their way from all around the country to be at the venues in question. They would have had to leave class early. For those maybe with part time work, they got their shift changed, and they may have lost out on wages. Supporters rushed home from work, grabbed a quick bite to eat, maybe even got it en route, rushed and then to be told sorry the game has to be called off. Did nobody check the forecast? There are any amount of apps, websites that will give you up to date weather forecasts to the minute; not good enough.
But we’re Irish. We grin and bear such incompetence and usually suggest that it’s nobody’s fault; just like everything else that goes on in this little island.
Of course it was someone’s fault, but that shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that people who travel the length and breadth of the country to support their counties should be treated with a bit more respect. In the same way that those that manage, train and play our games should be treated.
Yes, in the big picture it only means the games are put back for a week, and sure we’ll get them played next week and all will be well once again. But it will happen again unless those that run our games take on board the level of “disquiet” that was evident both in the grounds and on social media after the decision was taken to call off both games.
We ask our management, players and county boards to play and run our games in a professional manner. We expect and demand only the highest standards both on and off the field and are quick to criticise when those standards are not kept. Yet we are slow to stand up and question the attitude of others who do not do the same. We are very quick to jump on a manager or a player when they make a mistake, or when a referee makes a poor call he will get it in the ear for long enough. But whatever it is about being critical of those who administer our games at national level we tend to go extremely easy when it comes to apportioning blame.
Did anyone from the authorities come out and apologise? Did anyone suggest that there will be no charge at the next game for the inconvenience caused? Did anyone compensate those players who had to take time off work and will have to do it again for the next game? I don’t know but I have a fair idea of the answer.Things haven’t changed that much.
Without supporters and those in the media highlighting their anger when this sort of thing happens, how do we expect things to change and get better? Remember it will rain next year as well. Standards are for everyone, not just those who play the game.
GOOD LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
The National League is over for another year, Division One status was retained well in advance of the last couple of games and indeed but for a couple of scores we could have found ourselves in the National League final on Sunday.
Overall a good campaign that saw a number of players introduced and experience a high level of competition. They excelled and have eased the minds of many who wondered where would we be after many of the successful 2012 team had called it a day. Players like Ciaran Thompson, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Cian Mulligan, Caolan Ward, Kieran Gillespie and Jason McGee have more than held their own when it came to playing against established stars from other counties.
One of the problems in the last few years has been the reliance on a small group of players to get on the scoreboard. This year’s National League has shown up many more who, given the opportunity, are more than capable of taking their score.
Players will now go back to their clubs for a few games but in the back of everyone’s mind will be the Ulster championship and what it might bring. Our expectations will be higher than before the National League. We have shown that we don’t fear anyone within the province. Our performances against Monaghan and Tyrone have sent a clear message to those that may have thought we were a team in transition.
Bring on the summer.