Eating Your Cake and Having It

You clogged the feet of my boyhood
And I believed that my stumble
Had the poise and stride of Apollo
And his voice my thick tongued mumble

Patrick Kavanagh, Stony Grey Soil

After Waterford’s win over Cork in last season’s All-Ireland quarter-final replay, Tom Humphries wrote on how the awaiting press corps were dismayed to see Dan Shanahan pull down his baseball cap and stride purposefully away. Dan usually provided good quote, not afraid to big up Waterford’s chances or to spurn false modesty with regard to the team’s accomplishments. It therefore comes as no surprise to see Big Dan holding court in recent weeks on all manner of subjects.

It doesn’t seem like he feels the need to comment on his celebrity work. This is eminently sensible, as to respond to the weasels having a cut at him for these activities would be to dignify them with a response. At the risk of endless repetition on the matter (not that that’s ever bothered me before), if the management felt that he was adequately placed to contribute to Waterford’s cause then these activities that so many people seem to consider a distraction were nothing of the sort, or at least no more a distraction than other players doing nixers or contributing to the media. It is to Dan’s credit that he ignores the comments rather than publicly acknowledge them which would only add grist to the mill of his detractors.

More problematic is his defence of his actions with regard to Justin McCarthy as he left the field against Clare. Dan says that nothing was meant by it and that it was natural frustration at being substituted after a bad day at the office. The thing is, Dan, it can’t be both of these things. By your own admission something was clearly meant by it, i.e. you were frustrated at being substituted. If you feel that snubbing your manager after being substituted is understandable behaviour in the heat of battle then fair enough, but you’d better be prepared to defend it as such. Certain luminaries from Kerry defended Paul Galvin’s moment of madness on the basis that he was passionate, as if being passionate entitles you to behave in an ignorant manner. In fairness to Dan, his reaction was nowhere near as bad as Galvin’s – there’s always going to be an element of rough and tumble in a team environment, whereas referees are supposed to be sacrosanct. But in fairness to Paul Galvin he unequivocally apologised for his behaviour while Dan wants to hide behind the these-things-happen defence.

And speaking of hiding behind things, bringing his daughter into matters was uncalled for. Now, the abuse of her father that she had to hear was disgraceful and my heart goes out to her. But this was one muppet giving it large. Had she been twenty yards away the odds are she would have heard nothing aimed at her father – suggestions online that Waterford fans are somehow more prone to lashing out at their own is typical internet trash talk with no basis in fact – but plenty aimed at referees, linesmen and umpires. It would be safe to say that Dan has no problem with her hearing this kind of lip, said with no consideration that the official’s family might be nearby. When you see the hilarity which greeted Sol Campbell’s efforts to highlight the grief that soccer players were getting, it’s clear that the terrace skangers won’t be reforming any time soon, so if you don’t like your family hearing you getting ripped to shreds, leave them at home.

Or you could always play better, Dan. I’m going to Hell for that comment . . .