Manager’s role sidelined by cacophony of big match days

‘The manager, from my experience, has no real reason to be on the sideline. There is not a hope in hell of him being heard issuing orders’

 Cork’s Patrick Horgan: has been the standout player for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side and if he is curtailed or has an off day, they will struggle. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/ Inpho

Cork’s Patrick Horgan: has been the standout player for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side and if he is curtailed or has an off day, they will struggle. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/ Inpho

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:00

Points , whistleblowers, fallouts and consequences have dominated the news this week . As soon as whistleblower Brian Gavin signalled the end to Sunday’s league game against Tipperary, Dublin’s Niall McMorrow became aware of the consequence of his scorning of his last-minute point chance. The fallout could see the Dublin hurlers dropping back to Division One B after only a year in the top tier.

But how unfair is it to have the relegation play-off, a game of huge significance, being played in Walsh Park against the home team . Surely this match should be played at a neutral venue. A double header before Cork and Tipperary would be great value for the loyal supporters .

But did the Dublin management know the scoring difference on Sunday as the game headed into added time? Surely not.

In a championship game, before a full house, McMorrow mightn’t have heard the communication but on Sunday I presume there wasn’t a message delivered .

Anymore, though, on championship days the managers’ contribution is extremely limited. Being confined to his rectangle and unable to enter onto the field of play he might as well be in the stand. Indeed, I think he should be in the stand with its much better vantage point.

Sideline antics
The sideline antics, gesticulations , grimaces and rantings of some managers has become a kind of a subplot running alongside the on-field drama and indeed have become an integral part of our television match-day spectacle. But the manager, from my experience, has no real reason to be on the sideline.There is not a hope in hell of him being heard issuing orders to anybody other than the player directly in front of him on big match days.

In the All-Ireland final of 2006 we, the Cork management, made a decision late in the second half to bring on Conor Cusack at corner forward. The protocol was the same then as now. The player’s name coming into the game and the name of the player being substituted is given, (usually in a major hurry ) by the manager or one of his selectors, to the county secretary who delivers the same names (in another major hurry) to the fourth official who then gets his board number organised .

On this particular occasion, with the game in the balance, Mr Cusack, excited and totally oblivious to the protocol, made his way down the sideline to make his way onto the field. I was roaring at him to come back and even though he was initially only a number of metres from me he didn’t hear. He kept moving onto the field and I after him like a lunatic with images of fines, match bans, and county board treasurer in full HD colour in my mind, not to mind the fact that the game was carrying on. For what seemed like an eternity he was totally unaware and totally deaf to my roaring at him.

Anyway whether the message was delivered and received or not last Sunday is now irrelevant. Dublin now fight for survival and Tipperary ride off into the Thurles sunset for a date with Cork .

That is a difficult game to predict. Both have had what might be described as patchy form so far this season. Eamonn O’Shea will have been happy enough with his team’s work rate against Dublin last weekend but has to be concerned with the lack of consistency in their performances and the fact they conceded a dozen goals in three games has to be a worry. However, the spine of the team did well last Sunday and we look forward to seeing if they can repeat it against Cork.

Last year I felt the Tipperary weren’t sure of their best available 20 players at any time during their short campaign. There is a danger of an early exit again unless they cut down the experimentation and start trusting their instincts on players .

Standout player
While Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his management have tried out a good number of players in the five games to date they can’t be too happy with any of their overall team performances so far. Patrick Horgan has been the standout player and if he is curtailed or has an off day, the team will struggle to make it any further in this particular competition.

Conor Lehane and Séamus Harnedy have the potential to be match winners and always take a lot of minding . The major conundrum for JBM is the half-back line and also who will wear the number three shirt in the weeks ahead.

This is an important game for both counties. They both could do with the extra game that a semi-final will provide and they both need to provide some concrete evidence for their loyal supporters that they are going to be contenders in August and early September .

The Galway-Limerick game on Sunday is also difficult to call. Galway hold most of the aces.This is their eight game in succession against good opposition. That fact established, the jury is still out as to whether they will reach the heights of 2012 this year. They will be delighted to welcome the Portumna players back to the fold .

Limerick, as has been the case over the past number of years in the One B badlands, will find the step up difficult.

All things being equal Galway are better positioned to win this game but of course in sport, often things don’t work out as expected. Limerick played Galway a number of times in challenge games over the past number of years and there was never much between the teams. Sunday’s game mightn’t be much different. But Galway will start as favourites and will certainly disappoint themselves and their fans if they don’t win.

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