herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Roche's Point: Can anyone rescue this borefest?

IS this the most boring, most lopsided, most joyless senior football championship in recent memory?

Or are we just feeling particularly grouchy because of our perverse Irish climate  can't decide if it's August or February?

Sadly, while the weather if woebegone, the football has been worse.

There was a time when November and December were the months for dissecting the health of Gaelic football, be it the pressing need for championship reform or a redrawing of the rules to counter some new tactical trend that the public can't stomach.

This generally didn't happen in August because people were too consumed by the on-field action: it wasn't always classic fare but at least there was a semblance of competitiveness and you were always waiting for the next shock.

Nowadays, in the era of the Turkey Shoot, we're having these morose debates about football's future direction at the very time when we should be entranced by the matches.

WASHOUT

There is still time to rescue the 2015 championship from total washout status, just as last year's similarly grim saga was partially salvaged by that spectacular weekend comprising the Kerry/Mayo replay and Donegal's Dub ambush.

There is the potential for two intriguing quarter-finals next Saturday, primarily because we are now left with - beyond question - the six best teams in the country. Monaghan/Tyrone could well be a dour chess game but it still retains a degree of Ulster intrigue, while one can only hope that Mayo/Donegal proves as fascinating in reality as it appears on paper.

Here's the thing, though: the last five SFC fixtures of the year could all be close because they involve six teams who competed in Division One last spring (albeit Tyrone were relegated).

CHASM

Padraig Fogarty, Kildare, in action against Aidan O'Mahony, Kerry. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Kerry v Kildare. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Eoin Noonan / SPORTSFILE
Padraig Fogarty, Kildare, in action against Aidan O'Mahony, Kerry. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Kerry v Kildare. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Eoin Noonan / SPORTSFILE

What this championship has graphically underlined is the growing disparity between the top-eight and the rest. And while that may be all part of the natural evolution of elitist sport, the gap has widened to a chasm.

The stats cannot be ignored. If you take the six remaining teams, omit how they performed against fellow Division One opponents this summer and then check out their average winning margin against lower-tier counties, the figures are quite startling.

Here goes: Dublin average margin 16.75 points, Kerry 16.5, Mayo 15, Donegal 9.5, Tyrone 7.5, Monaghan 5.5.

Moreover, the response of the lower orders has contributed to our dwindling entertainment: they either go all-out defensive as a means of damage limitation (Westmeath in the Leinster final) or they simply throw up the white flag (Kildare against both Dublin and Kerry).

Kildare? Don't get us started. That would take an entire book, not just another column.

It says everything that it took a blatantly illegal goal to reawaken us from our slumber and get fans vaguely excited. Thanks heaven for small mercies ... and Seán Quigley.

 

Promoted articles

Entertainment News