GAA Football

Defeat knocks the stuffing out of Down fans

Tyrone delighted their fans on Sunday by winning back-to-back Ulster titles. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Cahair O'Kane

THE world spun on its axis the same way on Sunday night as it had on Saturday but one small corner of Ireland had turned on its head.

Down fans went into the weekend with the waft of success up their noses but ended up consoled by a Clones burger and a can of Fanta Orange (not as nice since they changed the recipe) on the way back down the hill 15 minutes before the final whistle.

Tyrone supporters, meanwhile, danced around the St Tiernach's Park pitch having heeded the call to arms for a dress rehearsal ahead of a big day in September.

The one thing they all had in common was that when they settled into the Monday hangover, reading The Irish News convinced them to dial in to Off The Fence.

We'll try and get through as much of it as we can here…

‘Tyrone fan' (we need some more original pseudonyms people) has stars in his eyes.

“Just want to congratulate Tyrone on winning back-to-back titles. It was great see young players like David Mulgrew standing up and taking it til them. The depth this Tyrone team has is brilliant. If you row back a couple of years, Darren McCurry and Ronan O'Neill were the main starting men, now they can't budge their way into the team. Men like that coming off the bench will stick to Tyrone when they get to Croke Park. 11 different scorers on Sunday, 11 the previous day – I don't think we necessarily need an out-and-out forward for the system Tyrone are playing. The only thing I'd err caution on is needing more support to Mark Bradley, but I thought there was evidence that we're not so reliant on Sean Cavanagh any more. The thing sped up a bit when he left the field.”

‘Tyrone caller' (really?) is now on the hunt for The Big D. We take it he means Dublin.

“So Tyrone have taken care of the three Ds in Ulster – now bring on the big D. Still not ruthless enough in front of goal. Of seven goal chances, only taken two but they were special ones. Well done to Brendan Crossan, who tipped Tyrone on May 19 in the supplement. Hopefully by September, he will be Mystic Meg. It would be great to see an Antrim man win something.”

CO'K: Brendan has the highest win percentage from predictions so far this year and has won 86 per cent of his own kickouts too.

‘Tommy', meanwhile, became an overnight pessimist.

“Very, very disappointed with the Down performance. The papers were full of hype over boys like Peter Turley and Connaire Harrison but it was very disappointing. Harrison was like a ballet dancer, he couldn't hold the ball. I'll be on the pension before Down win an All-Ireland. It's not good looking. I didn't go to the game, thankfully. I sympathise with the fans that spent a lot of money and that's the performance they turned out. If I was a betting man I'd be backing Monaghan to beat them in the Qualifiers.”

CO'K: We could all be six feet under before anyone outside Dublin, Tyrone, Kerry or Mayo win an All-Ireland.

‘Joe from East Down', doing his best Donald Trump impression, wasn't so much unimpressed with team selection as squad selection.

“I would just like to comment that there's a lot more players from the smaller clubs than Connaire Harrison that should be playing for Down. A long, long list of lads. Long list.”

CO'K: I once scored 2-1 in a junior championship game despite being the worst forward that ever lived. Boys that look good there seldom translate so well against the best players in Ireland.

Of all our quality coverage from Clones (note I was in Croke Park), it was Brendan Crossan's tale of the day's woe for our three intrepid reporters that got tongues wagging. ‘Paudge' had some words of friendly advice.

“I was shocked and distraught whilst reading Crossan's article about being late for Clones. Have these men ever been to the ground before? I headed off from Antrim and got there at 11. I'd a pile prawn sandwiches and prosecco in the boot which was slowly consumed and then packed away by the maid before making the pitch comfortably before the minor ball was thrown up.

“And why did they go anywhere near Monaghan town? Crossan & Co should be docked a month's wage for that admission on Monday although from what I hear a hack's wage was probably spent on the petrol so maybe go easy on them in that regard. But, poor preparations. What is it Geezer's mantra is? Poor preparations equals a dig in the bake.”

CO'K: A month's wages? This isn't the BBC ye know.

THE other big topic of the week – and one which actually generated more comment on our lines than the Ulster final itself – was the Fermanagh players' heave to get rid of Pete McGrath.

The Down legend was forced out after four years in charge when the players voted 21-9 against him just days after he had been ratified by the county committee to continue for another season.

‘Sean from Newry' was among those unimpressed by the players' actions.

“Peter McGrath's manner of exit from Fermanagh was a disgrace. He did wonders for the county who had a distinctly average squad of players to say the least, unlucky this season with injuries and absentees, not his fault. I think Fermanagh have lost a lot of friends across the country. I wish Peter a successful return to the county scene, Fermanagh's loss big time.”

‘Mary' had a similar train of thought.

“It's just a pity the people that pushed Pete out aren't man enough to explain or give their reasons, sure it seems the supporters aren't worth anything either. Ah well, they will know come match time when there's no one in the stands cheering them on. Talking about losing respect, they just have.”

And once we had cured ‘EoC' of the very GAA affliction of Capitalletteritis, his point looked a bit clearer.

“As a lifelong supporter of Fermanagh I am totally disgusted how the players and county board have treated Pete McGrath, the players should take a good look at themselves. I have seen all the matches this year - bad defending - poor forwards who can't take scores and yet they want a new manager! Will he be able to put the scores on the board? Pete, I thank you for all you have done. We will see if Fermanagh get back to Division 2 next year!”

IT'S been anything but a quiet week but GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail managed to squeeze a few headlines out of it by robustly defending the Sky Sports TV deal on Monday afternoon, declaring the debate ‘over'.

‘Eoin' on Facebook had this to say:

“Destroyed his own presidency by standing over this and HQ's continuous snide remarks only emphasises the disaster this deal has been,” while Fear Dhoire? added: “It's not over Aogán and never will be - the GAA hierarchy are so out of touch with grass roots now it's unbelievable.”

CO'K: When the GAA made the Sky deal, they said it wasn't about money. Now they're saying that they need to maximise the money they can make from their media rights. Which is it?

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