Football not-so-crazy

The footballers. I had high hopes for them this year and, alas, they have not been fulfilled. Maybe if they had been in contention for promotion I would have written a match report or taken a lot of photos of their game against Antrim last Sunday. Instead, I contented myself with watching the game and a series of lazy bullet points about the experience.

  • A-ha! You expected me to say that “if they had been in contention for promotion I would have stayed and watched them”. But I did stay and watch, so there. A blizzard of retweets on the Waterford GAA feed followed those who dared to leave, and it’s possible that the players were a bit deflated to see that. I’m not convinced though. They regularly play in front of a man and a dog, so the few hundred who did stay behind probably represented a bigger crowd than they are used to for a similar fixture. The players are, by definition, proper GAA men and they should be under no illusions. The 1,500 souls who turned out for the hurling game was in itself a relatively poor turnout. Had it been Kilkenny, you could have expected two to three times as many people, so the people who paid money for the first game are the committed few even before the football was thrown in. So let’s go easy on those who left. The kind of person who will sit for three-and-a-half hours to watch sport is a bit of a saddo and could do with the life that the people who left had to get back to.
  • The game was very good. My brother and I joked about how it was going to be difficult to watch the leaden pace of a football match after the high-octane extravaganza we had just seen. How wrong we were. It’s not just because the football game was a genuine competition compared to the turkey shoot that was the hurling. The football game was played in a good spirit and the shooting was of a high standard – I’m always impressed that anyone can get one of those cannonballs more than a few yards, and there were several top-notch scores with few awful misses. It was well worth staying for, which might better explain the frustration of those complaining about those who left. It would certainly make me more inclined to watch a football match in the future.
  • Despite the larger object, working out if it’s a score is trickier than it is in hurling. In the small ball game, the ball flies over the bar. In football, the shot will take all manner of apologetic wobbles as it heads towards the posts. I’m guessing it’s something that gets easier with experience. Like an lbw decision in cricket, you see enough of them to know that this one matches that one you saw before.
  • Has the blanket defence and/or “puke football” (ugh) changed the way football has been played, or has it always been this chess-like? I saw that in a non-pejorative sense, at times it was quite absorbing watching the game unfold. The game was effectively won and lost midway through the second half as Antrim reacted to a looser, more aggressive Waterford that came out after the break with a formation change of their own. Banks of Antrim players would move slowly up the field, picking their way through the holes and picking off the points. The game seemed to consist of the application of several gambits, and it was Antrim’s gambits which proved decisive in the end.
  • Of course, maybe it’s c) neither of these things. This was just one game. Watch more football before commenting, you insufferable windbag!
  • Whither Waterford? They are not whipping boys at this level. Despite my intimations that Antrim won it in the middle of the second half, Waterford could still have pinched their pocket with a late penalty when there were only three points in it, but Paul Whyte rolled the ball wide. Even then they had another chance but the ball went over the bar. To have a points difference of -8 after five games yet have only won one match seems statistically improbable, but that’s where Waterford stand. A lack of ruthlessness? Bad luck? Not good enough? The sample size is too small to tell, and the killer is that it might be all over before we ever find out. It all shows how hard it is to make progress. In the aftermath of another underage beatdown, I don’t envy the good folk of Waterford football the task which has been set for them.