Category: Archive

Best of times

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Remember when? When you couldn’t walk back to the cars after a drawn championship match without all and sundry wondering what slice of the action the referee was on for engineering another day out for everyone. When not a shilling of Lotto money could find its way into Croke Park without all manner of side-of-the-mouth grumbling and harrumphing.
You come across it and the attitude it betrays less and less these days. Part of this is down to Croke Park and the other rebuilt grounds around the country – living, breathing monuments to what all the grabbing was in aid of. And part of it is, of course, the risen tide and the feeling that if the likes of tribunal lawyers and property developers are going to make off like looters in a blackout, the GAA may as well do the same. Think of it this way – we’re only five weekends into the summer and between the football and hurling championships we’ve already seen six draws. Ten years ago, there’d have been conspiracy theories to beat the band but here in 2007, not a peep.
Still, the fascination with GAA millions dies hard in places. A couple of weeks ago, a young Meath footballer called Cian Ward came off the bench to put in a stunning cameo in the last quarter of the Leinster championship match against Dublin. For those who haven’t heard, in just 20 minutes he took five shots from placed balls and scored five points, including two massive 45s in the rain and a last-minute equaliser from a sideline ball with the game well into injury-time. The packed house in Croker, the massive television audience, the grim situation his side found themselves in – none of these factors took a lick out of him as he sauntered up and stuck point after point and kept Meath in the game. It was by any measure a glorious way to announce himself on the national stage, the kind of debut kids dream of and sportswriters salivate over.
And yet, and yet. The following day’s Irish Independent began its back-page story on the match with the words: “Substitute Cian Ward hoisted the

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