Breaking Ball: Counties will have to plan long-term to bridge gap

Manus Boyle


Manus Boyle

Breaking Ball: Counties will have to plan long-term to bridge gap

Good luck to Eoghan Ban Gallagher . . . off to Australia for trial

Is the football championship (as we know it) close to being finished. Four quarter-finals, the so-called top eight teams in the county. We’re led to believe that this is where the championship would begin; well it was just more of the same.

I doubt if we have never seen as many hammerings in the modern game as we have had this year. Tyrone were so far ahead of Armagh you had to wonder why the so-called experts were suggesting that Armagh would give them a good game, especially after their success against Kildare.

So where does that leave the Leinster finalists? Monaghan got a tough draw having to go at the Dubs a week after beating Down at their ease. Dublin, at their ease, glided through the game without ever getting out of third gear. Dublin’s encounter against Tyrone might give us something to talk about but this is the end of the summer. The difference between the so-called stronger teams and the also rans is getting wider by the year.

In the other half of the draw, Kerry eased past Galway. Kerry looked out of sorts at times and in front of goal they were rusty but Galway never even got close. Considering the hammering Galway handed to Donegal, where does that leave us? Roscommon and Mayo had to do it all again on bank holiday Monday after drawing last week. I thought the drawn game was rubbish, poor shooting and a lot of average passing. Mayo had been out for four or five games in-a-row and you could see the tiredness in their legs but they persisted. Roscommon had won Connacht and the McStay management team were deemed a huge success but they struggled to beat a tired Mayo team who were not at their best. Then on Monday Mayo handed them a 22 point hammering. What does that tell us about their success at provincial level?

Mayo and Kerry will do battle in the other semi-final, much will depend on whether Kerry can tidy up the rustiness of their quarter-final display and whether Mayo have much left in their legs to give it another lash. But one thing is for certain, Dublin, Tyrone, Kerry, and Mayo, regardless of league form, are so far ahead of the rest that the championship is close to becoming as interesting as watching paint dry.

Considering next year we will go into the Super Eight format, I doubt it will make any difference to where the championship will end up. It will just be more target practice for the top three or four against those who are chasing a dream without ever having a real chance.

With county boards expected to pour huge resources into trying to break the cycle of success, the danger is of counties going into so much debt that it will have a negative effect both on underage and club games.

This is not the fault of the big four; they have put the right structures in place and invested heavily in their coaching and underage development. They have secured great deals with sponsors and invested wisely. It wasn’t luck that they inherited strong groups of players, it was hard work. If other counties are going to compete they need to draw up long term plans; they need to get the right people involved at underage level and invest their resources wisely; they need to look after players of all ages and protect their welfare long term, proper underage structures that include fixture lists that are not just designed around county teams but with the best interests of all those involved.


Since Rory Gallagher resigned from the Donegal job there have been many names mentioned that may be interested in stepping into the position. Some of those opinions have suggested that those within the county are not up for the job and maybe someone from outside the county would be better suited to the job.

There are those who believe that having someone with intercounty experience at the top level is necessary for the job; not sure did Jim have much!

Have we not gone down the road of outside managers before. It didn’t work out well on those occasions. We have had underage managers who have given a huge commitment for the last few years and know the players available better than most; they understand the club scene and above all we have to respect the time and energy they have put into those jobs.

In the past, we have set up a committee to look at the position of manager. They have come back with a name that they have put forward for ratification; those on that committee should have an open mind and be free from any outside interference.

The next manager will have a huge job to do, considering the domination of football by just a few sides, and with county finances under severe pressure, a number of players reaching the end of their careers, and with our expectations still high, pressure will be par for the course.

Finally, best of luck to both Jason McGee and Eoghan Ban Gallagher on their trials with the Brisbane Lions.