Sunday 17 December 2017

Seánie may beat odds but it won’t dampen disquiet

IN common with many of their bookmaking rivals, Paddy Power have never been shy when it comes to promotional GAA gimmicks.

Remember that furore over the branded hurls wielded by three players during the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final between Cork and Wexford? Suffice to say, a clever stunt that prompted a furious response from then GAA president Seán Kelly.

Which brings us to a recent email revealing a |raft of betting odds linked to Seánie Johnston’s attempted conversion to the Gospel According to Geezer.

The email was issued prior to this week’s pointed objection from Cavan, at which point the Mystic Peigs at Paddy Power were clearly convinced |Johnston will play for Kildare in the upcoming National League – hence the 1/8 odds.

Bizarrely, they were quoting a miserly 11/2 that Johnston would win an All Star in 2012. True, he’s a prolific |point-taker on his day.

But? Here is a player who wasn’t even wanted by Cavan’s management this year, who has yet to prove his residential bona fides in Kildare, let alone nail down a starting place on their team ... and he’s less than 6/1 to win a place on the football team of the year? Go figure.

Then, of course, you had the obligatory ‘novelty’ bet – with Johnston priced at 16/1 to kiss the Kildare jersey during this year’s championship. Overcome with laughter, Curve Ball almost fell off his seat up in the moral high ground.

But is it really that funny? Methinks not, and it’s telling that you will get much higher odds (50/1) on the player’s putative new club, St Kevin’s, winning the Kildare SFC this season.

Truth be told, the whole saga is disquieting on several levels. Namely:

Yes, we can sympathise with Johnston’s desire to play inter-county football ... but he isn’t the first quality footballer to be dropped from a county squad and he won’t be the last.

Yes, we appreciate that Johnston now says he is resident in Straffan ... but Cavan are perfectly within their rights to test the validity of this assertion, given that he still works in Cavan town. Moreover, at what point did he move to Kildare?

If it was six months ago, fair enough; otherwise you are breaking the spirit of the residency rule, whatever about the rule itself.

Yes, Johnston wouldn’t be the first ‘import’ to become a latter-day Lilywhite ... but inter-county transfers are far easier to accept when the player in question is already working in Kildare, as happened with the likes of Karl O’Dwyer and Brian Murphy.

Finally, we appreciate Kildare’s desire to find that elusive 5pc that might transform them from nearly men into champions ... but surely it would be far more satisfying to achieve that goal with the current homegrown (and hugely admired) group?

Just a thought.

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