Tag Archives: Teddy Holland

Managerial murder-go-round

When the Waterford hurlers staged their heave against Justin McCarthy back in June, comparisons were made with the infamous strike the Cork hurlers and footballers staged last winter. While there were superficial similarities, the core issue was quite different. The Waterford hurlers were rising up against an individual. The respective Cork panels were revolting against the entire body politic of the GAA; indeed, they were at great pains to emphasise that they had no issue with the personalities involved (that didn’t stop their supporters casting online aspersions against Teddy Holland, but in fairness to the Cork players they didn’t waver from their position and they can’t control the trolls, nor should they be expected to). You can argue about which is worse – I know where my vote on that matter is – but the differences between the situations are clear and unarguable.

Well, the situation in Waterford now has a companion in the departure of John Meyler as Wexford hurling manager. Faced with a situation where the players refused to play for the manager, the County Board decided to fire the manager.

It’s not unheard of in GAA history – Brian McDonald memorably faced an open letter from the Mayo football panel where they excoriated his management style, not least the indignity of pushing a car round a car park as training – but the proximity of two senior panels behaving in the same manner suggests it is becoming more common. At the risk of sounding like one of the tinfoil hat brigade, it’s easy to speculate that many managers are relieved of their duties after their counties exit from the Championship after a quiet consultation with the players, or at least the superstar ones who are to be found in even the lowliest of inter county panels.

So this looks like the future in the GAA, and it ain’t right. Watching the Wexford panel warm down after they had beaten Waterford in the League this year, there didn’t seem to be any personality issues as they cheerfully engaged in an activity that makes players look utterly daft. It’s only when the Kilkenny train smashed into them that the personality issues became a problem. As per above, we can instantly dismiss the statements for and against John Meyler online. If players had a problem with Meyler it was their responsibility to walk away from the panel, not collectively spit their dummy out.

The one consolation from the Wexford situation is that it makes the manner in which Justin was dispatched look almost dignified – this report on RTÉ tells a tale of county tearing itself apart. With the players in each county no longer a bunch who show up after the saving of the hay but a coherent group throughout the summer, it would be a strong County Board that could drive a wedge between any panel set on a course of action.

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Of mice and men

Harold Macmillan famously noted that the thing most likely to upset the political applecart was “Events, dear boy, events.” He came to mind yesterday evening when I was firing up the laptop to compose a scornful lament for the Cork footballers, centred around the notion that if their campaign to oust Teddy Holland was based on their desire to have the very best shot at success then how much less than 1-5 in 65 minutes would they have scored with him at the helm?

Then Cork ripped off 2-2 in the last seven minutes, something that didn’t just knock me out of their stride as this old revision on Wikipedia shows.

It would be a particularly one-eyed supporter who could watch the manner in which Teddy Holland was dumped upon by the Cork panel and not notice the parallels with what went on between the Waterford panel and Justin McCarthy. The comparison isn’t exact. The Cork footballers reacted not just against one man but the entire Cork County Board, an act that effectively set them against the entirety of Cork GAA – people can point to the crowds that turned out in support of the footballers, but that would be to advocate governance by rent-a-mob. And Teddy Holland would not have been human if he didn’t look at the shambles Cork were for 65 minutes against Kerry and not feel a little bit smug at seeing the bastards squirm. Justin McCarthy, on the other hand, must have known he had lost the players after the performance against Clare. Unlike Holland, it couldn’t be said that he hadn’t a fair crack of the whip.

Still, the whole thing still leaves a sour taste. Amidst the general delight at Waterford’s long awaited arrival in the All-Ireland final, there have been a few dissenting voices online who felt disappointment that the team who shafted Justin were now being lauded for their callousness. Bearing in mind the antagonism I feel towards Cork – I haven’t cheered for Cork in a single match since, not even against Kilkenny and Kerry – it’s perfectly understandable that some people would look at Waterford and say “after what happened, no thanks”.

Some might argue that the end has justified the means. Kilkenny people in particular would do well to remember that a very vocal group of them were sharpening the knives for Brian Cody when he dropped Charlie Carter in 2003. Winning the All-Ireland smoothed over any and all ruffled fur, demonstrating that their commitment to fairness stopped at the point you can touch the McCarthy Cup. What happened to Justin was of a different magnitude. Managers are meant to drop players. Players are not meant to drop managers. And the end / means argument assumes that we would not have reached the All-Ireland final without Davy Fitz at the helm. The odds are that we would not be, but it can’t be disputed that the 2007 model actually won stuff. If the players don’t perform on Sunday week, will they consider their losers medals more valuable than a Munster and National League winner’s medal?

You can’t be objective with your own county. If the players had stuffed Justin in a sack and dumped him in the Pill, I’d still support them. That wouldn’t make it right though, and winning the All-Ireland won’t make it right. Won’t stop me enjoying it, but it won’t retrospectively validate what happened either.