HOW about those All-Star awards last week – have you ever seen a bigger joke of a decision?
Chances are that you’re nodding along with that opening line, as everybody seemed to have some grievance with the baubles which were doled out at Dublin’s Convention Centre on Friday.
The biggest Cork misgivings would have been the lack of an All-Star for Anthony Nash but, because Patrick Horgan and Mark Coleman were close to automatic choices and there is an algorithm which seems to limit your representation based on how far you went, the Kanturk man missed out.
Despite Mayo having six on the football team – a record – in a season where they drew with Derry, Galway and Cork in normal time, their fans found time to lament Tom Parsons’ absence, while Dublin supporters will probably feel that seven of their players doesn’t do justice to what has been another season of dominance.
Jim Gavin’s side probably suffered from having various players shine at different stages, with the load shared fairly evenly – a similar scenario to 2010, when Cork only had four winners despite winning the All-Ireland.
Dublin had two of the four footballer of the year nominees in Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy, but that too was a source of annoyance for some – including fellow Echo writer Peter McNamara – as they felt the deviation away from three was strange. In addition, it meant that Cluxton was nominated for the top prize but wasn’t on the All-Star team as he lost out to David Clarke for goalkeeper – perhaps the Dublin captain could have been included at corner-forward for his free-taking?
Andy Moran ended up taking that gong, which is voted for by the players, with the feeling that Mayo benefited from their extra levels of exposure. On the hurling side, Joe Canning’s hurler of the year prize was rather like Ryan Giggs’ PFA Player of The Year win in 2009, a career prize rather than for a year of sustained excellence.
Canning was top-class in the latter stages of the All-Ireland semi-final win over Tipperary, but we’d aver that few would have quibbled if centre-back Gearóid McInerney had been on the shortlist instead of the Portumna man.
The bottom line though is that by the end of this week you’ll be hard pressed to say who did or didn’t get an All-Star, and the results will only be of use to the likes of us as we compile future sports quizzes for the Holly Bough (blatant plug, it’s out soon, get a few copies).
In the era of the qualifiers, the All-Stars have become weighted towards counties who go on a run through the back door, with more games allowing greater chance to impress.
While nice to win, now all the All-Stars seem to do is provide media coverage for the GAA during its quiet time, as well as allowing GAA reporters to pick ‘August All-Stars’ or the like when there mightn’t be much else on.
You know there probably isn’t much else on when we’re allowed to descend into talk of GAA kits, but the recent releases of 2018 jerseys by the most successful counties in each code – Kerry and Kilkenny – is worthy of comment, if only to emphasise the contrast in approach by the two counties.
Kerry’s had a lot of input from Paul Galvin, who now has his own range for Dunnes Stores, but any fears that he would try to put too much of an individual stamp on it were unfounded. The Kingdom’s new outfit is classy, with a white neck and cuffs making a welcome return, and no extraneous lines of squiggles affecting the cleanliness of the look.
Kilkenny’s, on the other hand, leaves quite a lot to be desired. Obviously, it’s not easy to come up with something new every time when stripes are integral to the design, but surely O’Neills could have had a better idea than simply placing a black triangle across the shoulders? On one hand, you’d say fair play to the Kilkenny board for going with such a bold move, but we’d wonder how many, if any, supporters were consulted.
Team colours mean a lot, and so does their heritage – Patrick Horgan wears the same green, black and gold hoops as Christy Ring, did for Glen Rovers for instance, with only the developments in textiles and the necessary logos intruding.
Nobody in Kilkenny will mind if they win the All-Ireland in their new jersey, but it won’t look quite right.