Cahair O'Kane's Kicking Out review of 2019

Cahair O'Kane presents his Kicking Out review of 2019

Armagh's Brendan Donaghy (above) provided the perfect riposte to team-mate Patrick Burns' (below) Twitter rant Picture by Séamus Loughran
Armagh's Brendan Donaghy (above) provided the perfect riposte to team-mate Patrick Burns' (below) Twitter rant Picture by Séamus Loughran

County board of the year: Mayo.

On-the-spot innovation: Dublin down to 14 men, chasing the game in the All-Ireland final, and Stephen Cluxton goes out to midfield to mark Tommy Walsh on a kickout.

Best game of 2020: Any of last weekend’s truly needless McKenna Cup games. No call for the 2020 season to start before the Christmas season is over.

Why so blue: There’s nothing bluer than the empty seats of Parnell Park. For all the money invested in promoting the GAA in Dublin, it was a worrying development to see gate receipts from the county’s club championships fall from €202,000 in 2018 to €126,000 this year.

Intervention: With Lámh Dhearg and Portglenone tied at 9-9 on free-kicks after their Antrim semi-final replay finished level after extra-time, county chairman Ciaran McCavana stepped in. At that stage, 3,500 people were watching it live on Antrim GAA’s Twitter account. Almost as many as watch All-Ireland finals on Sky.

Team-mates on Twitter: Armagh’s Patrick Burns starts into a rant: “Commute twice daily to Dublin. 20 mins drive, 70 mins bus, 20 mins cycle…. [etc]”

His team-mate Brendan Donaghy: “Why do you go to Dublin twice daily? Surely once would do you?”

Ooft: Eoin Larkin in his book: “There was no great love for Cork in our dressing room back then, to put it mildly. To us, they were full of shit. Now, the county board in Kilkenny was a dream to work with and, by and large, we got everything we wanted. But we didn’t seek to have our towels folded waiting for us when we came in from training and that kind of nonsense. We didn’t insist on trimmings that were incidental to winning hurling matches. Donal Óg Cusack and his special contact lenses and glove for catching the ball was more of it. He once said how he went out on his bike one Christmas Day to try and get an edge of the hurlers all over Ireland that were full up with turkey. What edge was he getting going out for a cycle? Maybe the lads that were at home enjoying themselves with their families were the ones that were really getting the edge.”

Nicest new jersey: Toss-up between the new white Offaly top and the new Wexford home shirt.

Useful coaching advice: "Everyone says take your points and the goals will come. No, if you can't get a goal take a point” – Conor Laverty told coaches this at Steven Poacher’s coaching day in November.

Please listen to this man: Professor Niall Moyna on the ridiculous demands placed on inter-county players. "My own view is we could have the same quality, same fitness level if we reduced our training by 40% and focused on the game itself.” His arms are sore beating the drum.

Tear-jerker: Magherafelt captain Danny Heavron, interviewed by BBC clubmate Thomas Niblock on the Celtic Park steps, having been asked what was going through his mind in the closing minutes as they closed out a first county title since 1978. “I was praying to Mammy…that she would see it through.” An immortal image.

Shooting display: East Kerry hit 1-23 and never kicked a single wide as they beat Dingle in the Kerry SFC.

Commentary: Heard on Northern Sound during the Armagh-Cavan game.

First commentator: “And a big shout out to Monica and Joey who are on holiday in Ma-J-orca”.

Second commentator: “The “j” is silent”.

First commentator: “And a big shout out to Monica and ‘oey who are on holiday in Ma-J-orca.”

Wake-up call: Just 14,502 fans turned up to Croke Park for Dublin’s first home National League game of 2019, a repeat of the previous year’s final against Galway. The worrying numbers carried through the entire year.

He’s gone, let’s blame him: The wagons circled very quickly on Joe Schmidt the second the door hit him on the arse. Nobody else shouldering much of the blame themselves.

Unexpected political commentator: Gary Neville.

When social media becomes real life: Eamon McGee being met with a verbal tirade upon leaving the pitch after one of Gaoth Dobhair’s championship matches, from a “YouTube idiot [who] shoved a camera in my face asking my how much George Soros paid me to take baby killing and LGBT degeneracy to Ireland,” as McGee put it himself.

Left hand trying to tell the right it’s not doing what it thinks it’s doing: Cork county board announces a loss of €560,000 for 2019. It’s audit sub-committee steps out days later and reveals the actual, even more stark figure is €2.4m.

Opportunity butchered: The GAA set up a fixtures task force that could have revolutionised the entire calendar, but they stocked it full of inside men, sidelined the Club Players’ Association and didn’t offer counties the option of a split season, despite the plans having been drawn up.

Mad for it: 5.27pm on February 9 and the stand in Tralee is packed for Kerry-Dublin, which doesn’t start for another 90 minutes. It lived up to the hype, with Kerry scoring a late winner that gave them the belief to go and challenge in the summer.

Conor McKenna risked his Aussie Rules career to play in a relegation play-off for Eglish  
Conor McKenna risked his Aussie Rules career to play in a relegation play-off for Eglish  

Didn’t forget his roots: Conor McKenna risking his AFL career to play in a relegation playoff for Eglish.

They really didn’t think this through: Having seen two Laois hurlers named on the Allstars nomination list, the GAA inexplicably dropped the Joe McDonagh Cup Allstars, denying a raft of players some recognition for what could be once-in-a-lifetime seasons.

Worst new jersey: Kerry.

Comedy session: Gaoth Dobhair goalkeeper has a water bottle in his hand. Won’t give the Naomh Conaill forward a drink. Wrestling ensues. ‘Keeper gets the bottle thrown off to a nearby team-mate. He takes a swig. Forward comes to him looking. Defender throws it away into the net. Naomh Conaill forward goes into the net, takes a massive drink, lifts everything out of the net – including the goalkeeper’s towel bag - and tosses them out over the fence. Justice.

S***house behaviour: Niall Sludden trying to get a stretch during Tyrone’s league game with Dublin, and every time he’d try to stand on one leg, Davy Byrne just gave him a nudge off balance again.

Yarn from the past: Cian Mackey told one about Eamonn Coleman in the lead up to this year’s Ulster final. “Eamonn Coleman threw my boots in the bin after a match against Sligo in Markievicz Park. They were a pair of silver Mercury boots and Eamonn wasn’t a fan. I was after coming on and kicking 1-4, and he came over. I thought he was gonna congratulate me. He said: ‘Don’t you ever wear boots like that on my field again’. Took them off me and threw them in the bin.”

Piggyback campaign: Following on from the hugely successful Newbridge or Nowhere tour of 2018, Antrim footballers latched on with their own take, Whiterock or Nowhere. They, too, got their wish of a home game, against none other than Kildare. And were duly hammered.

‘Won’t be a cow milked’ tweet: “There won’t be a cow milked in north Belfast in the morning, because we don’t milk cows in north Belfast.” – Brendan Crossan.

Unsung hero: A few months ago, Martin McCourt was doing nets for Kilcoo’s third team. Now he’s first choice and has made a series of big saves in helping them to that maiden Ulster Club title.

Dog days: The pooch that invaded the pitch during Cavan’s championship win over Monaghan looked suspiciously like one seen on previous occasions on which Breffni boss Mickey Graham was the common denominator.

Ill-advised tweet: The FAI’s social media accounts wishing a happy birthday to “Ireland international” Declan Rice, pictured in his green geansai, while he was still deliberating. Ended up choosing England. At least the year hasn’t gotten any worse for the FAI since.

Thing that became a joke that quickly became unfunny and can we all just please stop it: Sweeping the shed.

Credit where it’s due: BBC NI take a battering for their GAA coverage, a lot of rightly so, but their work on the Ulster Club Championship this year was excellent.

Unsuccessful propaganda mission: The not-so-subtle Kerry campaign to keep David Gough out of the All-Ireland final before he turned in one of the great refereeing performances.

Anti-climax: The second half of Mayo-Dublin. It had looked all year that Mayo might have found the depth to challenge and in the first half, they looked like a team with a plan. But they were just overwhelmed in the end, like everyone else.

Three words that melted a hole in your brain: Dublin’s kickout press.

Why are we doing this again: Sky Sports’ coverage of Donegal v Meath had an average audience of 1,000 in the UK, a peak of 2,000 – and had zero for half of its coverage. But sure it’s promoting the game outside Ireland…

Man who changed a team: Cathal McShane.

Allstar omission: Stephen O’Brien.

Pass: Marty Reilly’s eye-of-a-needle ball that led to Cavan’s penalty in the win over Monaghan.

Most significant injury: Peter Crowley’s cruciate. He’d have been some addition in a Kerry team that came mighty close to ending the 5-in-a-row.

More, please: Bring a ball at half-time.