Tedious business of naming dummy teams causes more problems than it solves
Even if the secret is kept, you run the risk of messing too much with your players’ heads
Because that’s what naming a dummy team really comes down to. It’s an issue of trust. The manager is saying, ‘Right lads, this can’t get out. If this gets out, some man has let the team down.’ Then when it does come out – which it inevitably does – everybody is looking at each other and wondering who let it out. All eyes naturally turn to the man that was dropped because it’s only logical that maybe he bitched to somebody.
But what if he didn’t? What if it was the lad who got put in instead of him and couldn’t keep it to himself? All of a sudden, there’s suspicion around the lad on the bench and his head is swimming by the time he gets on the pitch. You’re messing around with players’ heads at exactly the wrong time.
And the other side of it then is what the players who actually have been picked are thinking. Take the likes of Walsh, O’Connor and O’Leary for Cork. These are lads who are going to be key to whatever success you have and who are looking to the management to see what new thinking they come up with to beat a team like Kerry.
It reminded me of a county final we played one year against Laune Rangers. The day before the game, one of the management came to me and said they’d come up with an idea for the final. I was thinking that this was great, maybe there was going to be a plan to stop Mike Frank Russell or something But no, the big idea was to ask me would I play at wing-forward just to keep them guessing.
Wing-forward! Ah lads. I knew I hadn’t been playing my best stuff but there was no way I was going make some young wing-back a hero. I said, “Sorry now lads, that won’t be happening.” I refused to do it. I couldn’t believe that this was their big masterstroke.
I would imagine a few of the Cork lads were thinking something similar with this dummy team. Like, really? This is your big trick? Keeping Noel O’Leary back only to throw him in against Paul Galvin? It’s not exactly the greatest piece of innovation anyone’s ever come up with.
You should pick your best team. Pick them, tell them up front and don’t complicate the thing. The more you mess around, the more imponderables you bring in. Intercounty football is hard enough as it is without adding another layer to it.