Off The Fence: "We're treated like second class citizens"
I ALWAYS loved going across the road to Madge's shop as a child and getting a quarter of mixed balls. I especially loved the orangey ones that were halfway between liquorice and something else that I could never quite define.
This week's Off the Fence is a bag of mixed balls, with everything from Tyrone minor hurlers to club v county (that old chestnut) to the colour of Sligo players' cycling shorts (the excitement).
The most interesting and eye-opening submission came from a young lad on the Tyrone minor hurling panel, whom we'll call 'Tyrone Minor Hurler', for fairly obvious reasons.
“We were scheduled to play Donegal in the Ulster Shield Final last Saturday. Before we had even left we were faced with being down players as an under-17 football game was fixed for the exact same time. This left us minus our two most potent forwards and a mainstay in our defence. When we arrived we found we hadn't got enough jerseys to give each player a jersey along with having no medical bag - never mind a physio - no spare hurls and our minor players were not even provided with county socks and shorts!
“The disregard for our game was sickening and although the scoreline suggested different, we were not a million miles behind the Donegal team, who were decked out in various kinds of county gear and had 7 people on the line for them compared to our two.
“I feel with backing from the county board I feel we could have given a better account of ourselves and challenged for an Ulster title that our county board would have no problem adding to their roll of honour. Given no fair play in Tyrone and been treated like second-class citizens for years.”
CO'K: Sadly, son, you have entered the world of Ulster hurling. Things will probably not get better.
Sort of on the same theme of gear, 'Conor' was keen to deal with the weekend's major issue, namely the colour of cycling shorts worn by the Sligo and New York players on Sunday.
“As depicted in your picture of the New York v Sligo in Monday's paper, why is a rule not introduced to insist body armour or under garments of whatever design are the same colour of the shorts or jersey? In soccer it is now a pre-requisite and helps makes players and teams appear more aesthetically pleasing on the eye and presents a more professional approach. I agree not the biggest issue in the world but it looks so amateurish when all sorts of kit are on display.”
CO'K: The three men in the picture wearing cycling shorts are all wearing white, which appears as a secondary colour on both kits, so they could get away with it. But believe it or not, cycling shorts are not on the GPA's approved list of deman…. sorry, requested gear for players, which means they have to buy their own. That's why you get all sorts of colours.
‘Angry club fan' has an actual bee in his bonnet but it's one I hope I can explain away.
“Clonoe and Tyrone's Declan McClure did not sustain his injury in Clonoe's club game again Urney on Sunday. He received it training for Tyrone on Saturday morning, the day before all county league matches in Tyrone. For what reason did Mickey Harte call this session after his big article in Saturday's edition about him looking his players play club football?”
CO'K: Although your point about calling training on Saturday with the rest of the players involved in club games on Sunday is valid, the wires did get slightly crossed on McClure's injury. He hurt his knee at county training on Saturday morning and in fairness, Mickey Harte didn't actually say in the interview that appeared in yesterday's edition that he'd hurt it playing for Clonoe.
And lastly, most people seemed to thoroughly enjoy Eoin Bradley's discussion with Brendan Crossan ahead of Saturday's Irish Cup final.
The Glenullin man chewed over a pre-prepared toastie and a range of topics, among them the general defensiveness of Gaelic football.
While others were taken in by the say-what-you-see attitude of Bradley, ‘The Statman' wasn't climbing aboard the bandwagon.
“So Eoin Bradley says everyone in county football only think about defending and the game depresses him. His alternative for enjoyment and attacking football is Irish League soccer; the man is having a laugh. In the same week he plays for a team in the biggest game of the season and they fail to score in 90 minutes and you could count the number of chances on one hand. I can only assume the money and chance of publicity is what motivates Skinner, I hope so or he'll be very depressed this week after being involved in that. Hopefully he heard about the first round of the inter-county championship on Sunday night with 36 scores across 70 minutes, that should lift his mood. His problem with county football is that it has become more of a team game with scores spread more throughout the team and in order to be a good player now you have to be a team player which he struggles with.”
CO'K: You can understand Eoin's frustration to a point. When he got one-on-one with any defender, he'd have skinned them as the nickname suggests. He loves doing that. It's harder to beat four men. But there is a rose-tintedness about the analysis of Gaelic football's current level of attractiveness. I remember going with my father to watch an Irish League game when I was about 10. Larne beat Limavady United 5-3, and we still left 20 minutes before the end. I caught glimpses of the game on Saturday but rugby has overtaken soccer as a spectacle for me – and Gaelic football still trumps both.