Grassroots coaching doesn't generate the same coverage as glorified challenge games

Grassroots coaching doesn't generate the same coverage as glorified challenge games
Cathal Mannion of Galway in action against Conor O'Shea of Kilkenny. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

NO prizes for guessing what the talk has been around the water-cooler for the last couple of days – yes, of course, the Wild Geese Trophy.

A truly epic game on Sunday morning saw Galway pip Kilkenny 4-3 in a free-taking competition after the sides finished level in Sydney, 4-23 to 3-26. 

An encounter for the ages and one that has the whole country talking.

Picture: INPHO/David Neilsen
Picture: INPHO/David Neilsen

Well, that’s the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that highlights from the match were shown on RTÉ2 on Sunday night. 

Despite it being a glorified challenge game, it stands as the only GAA highlights, outside of news bulletins, on the national broadcaster between the end of the championship and the beginning of the national league and at the start of January.

The footage of the Wild Geese Trophy was on par with what the Joe McDonagh, Christy Ring, Mick Mackey and Lory Meagher Cups receive in a whole year. 

As the excellent Twitter account Unofficial GAA put it: “What a day it will be when the GAA and RTÉ travel to the other end of the country rather than the world to promote hurling.”

Instead of looking to level the playing field though, instead we have a further stratifying, which will continue with the Fenway Classic next weekend, with Wexford taking on Limerick at the home of the Boston Red Sox and Cork clashing with Clare before the two winners meet for the Players Champions Cup. 

The one every young boy grows up dreaming about.

The Wild Geese Trophy. Picture: INPHO/David Neilsen
The Wild Geese Trophy. Picture: INPHO/David Neilsen

At least the Wild Geese Trophy is 15-a-side, but we’re still left wondering about the ‘super 11s’ format of the Fenway Classic, beyond the need to shoehorn hurling into the small space of a baseball diamond. Are we to believe that a young fella in Cavan or Leitrim will switch on TG4 next Sunday evening and be rapt at what he sees?

The novel format certainly grabs more immediate media attention, but beyond that initial surge of curiosity, it’s hard to see what it achieves. Unfortunately, grassroots coaching and sustainable development doesn’t generate press releases.

Cork will wear their new jerseys in Boston and that, at least, is a bright spot. For the first time since 2004, the Rebels have a white neck and cuffs, which should, in our view, be the non-negotiable starting point for any Cork strip.

Unfortunately, the new shirt is prevented from becoming a classic by the presence of the Chill Insurance logo. 

We have no problem with Chill – they have been very beneficial for Cork and on a personal level they have ensured for us the best deal with our car as various insurers have sought to raise premiums each year – but purple and lime green don’t belong on a Cork jersey.

We have no doubt that those on the county board side would have raised the possibility of having Chill’s markings rendered in white – as on the back of the jersey – but the response would have been that the money on offer would be lessened.

With Páirc Uí Chaoimh to be paying off, they literally couldn’t afford to be choosy. It’s like how Opel were able to muscle their way on to replica Ireland soccer jerseys in the 1980s as the FAI were up the financial creek and every subsequent sponsor had a precedent to cite.

Brian Hurley wearing the new geansaí. Picture: George Hatchell
Brian Hurley wearing the new geansaí. Picture: George Hatchell

The way around it if you’re caught in such a situation is to make sure you choose a sponsor with colours similar to your own, like Dublin with AIG after having had a red blob on their tops when they partnered with Vodafone. Limerick are luckier again as their new top is free of any commercial intrusions bar the O’Neills wordmark – the training gear does carry the Adare Manor logo.

The colourful effect on Cork’s chests isn’t likely to affect sales too much as it’s always among the top sellers. It would be interesting to see, though, if it would be more popular with a more integrated sponsor on the front.

Regardless, it’s among the best in terms of design. 

The best way to enshrine its status would be for it to be worn accepting a trophy in the Hogan Stand.

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