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Exclusive tips for Gaels who can't hack November

NOVEMBER, we're all agreed, is a dark, dank, depressing month … if you're a GAA hack who isn't on paid holidays (ie, International Rules 'duty') in some far-flung southern hemisphere location.

Back here in rain-cursed northern Europe, it may still be dark and dank but at least it doesn't qualify as depressing if you're a soccer scribe getting stuck into tomorrow night's impending World War III between the rival forces of Hibernia and Caledonia.

It isn't half-bad, either, for keyboard-bashing aficionados of the oval ball. True, you may have brawny but not very brilliant Georgia on your absent minds this weekend - not exactly back-page material but you can still wallow in the giddy excitement of gunning down the mighty Springboks last Saturday.

For the GAA 'domestique', however, this is a God-awful time. And this particular week is arguably the worst of all, given the relative paucity of quality club fare taking place on Sunday, in Leinster especially.

Thank heaven, then, for small mercies: Brian Cody may have a spiky enough relationship with the press but, in our hour of need, he came to the rescue earlier this week by confirming that he would be returning for a 17th season at the Nowlan Park throne.

A world exclusive? Not exactly. Headline-grabbing stuff on a slow news day? Most definitely.

TROUBLING

Already, though, Cody's return is old news. And lack of news has another deeply troubling side-effect: lack of column material.

There are ways and means to surmount this crisis, though, as the following self-help guide - www.Curve-Ball-Enterprises.ie/tips-for-the-desperate/brown-envelopes-welcomed - will hopefully prove …

TIP 1: For those stuck at home while your colleagues scorch themselves in the Australian sun - pen a trenchant column pronouncing the death of International Rules.

TIP 2: For those currently scorching themselves Down Under, step into the shade for five brief minutes to write an impassioned defence of this magnificent marriage. Stress how our two sporting codes can learn so much from each other, if only the relationship is allowed to thrive … preferably by having every tour in Australia.

TIP 3: News has ground to a complete halt. Time to 'retire' some prominent star. Trawl Wikipedia in search of player date-of-births … find the oldest inter-county swinger in town and key in the following intro: "Speculation is mounting that Joe Bloggs, 35, is set to call time on his distinguished and often dazzling career in blue/red/colour as appropriate."

HOKUM

So long as you lace your ensuing article with double-measures of flattery, Mr Bloggs won't be overly upset even if it's complete hokum. And beside, if he is 35, there's a 50-50 chance that he'll either call time any day soon or his manager will do it for him.

TIP 4: Scour the local papers for any hint of controversy. See if any high-profile player/manager types have said anything vaguely outrageous. Every so often, you'll strike the jackpot (check out James Horan's debut column in the Western People this week, bitching about GAA attempts to punish exponents of the 'dummy team' while lacerating Liam O'Neill's alleged crusade to row in 'the cult' of the manager ). Online versions make life so much easier, allowing you to copy-and-paste to your heart's content.

TIP 5: A day after the above, write a column condemning James Horan (or whoever) for whatever strongly-held opinions he has expressed under the headline: "Who's the dummy now?"

TIP 6: If you're really stuck … draw up a list of counties who can resume collective training this weekend after the closed-season moratorium. Put 'exclusive' on it; guaranteed to impress.

TIP 7: Pray for the O'Byrne Cup.


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