Further into the vortex

Come on Tipperary hurlers, play the game. Waterford and Cork‘s hurling panels have both staged heaves against their manager, and now Clare and Limerick are doing the same. That Sheedy fella must have some skeletons in his closet that demand a principled response. Won’t someone please think of the children?

Turning the dial away from Silliness FM, the week’s events on Shannonside represent an escalation in a process that manages to be both inevitable and impossible to predict. It would be tempting to dismiss either spat as unrelated incidents, that the respective County Boards should simply back their managers to the hilt and that’ll be the end of the matter. Indeed, Clare already seem to be going down that road with chairman Michael O’Neill being rather bright and breezy about it all.

Tempting, and entirely misguided. International rugby squads once famously assembled the night before a match without much in the way of anything as shallow as training or preparation, and this was probably true back in the day for inter-county squads. This meant that camaraderie was purely based on internal county loyalties. Nowadays though, GAA panels spend months on end in each other’s pockets. No doubt Justin McCarthy would be of the opinion that there is no ‘panel’ once the season ends and he can start from scratch the following year. Strictly speaking he’d be correct but you can’t expect players, especially ones from a county who were lambasted by all and sundry like Limerick’s were after losing to Tipp last season, to so casually walk away from each other.

It’s a classic case of the law of unintended consequences. When the back door was introduced, the GAA didn’t foresee that county panels would become so much more militant as a result. And it’s only going to get worse.