The Backdoor: Violence. On the terraces. At the home of hurling

Football needs Dublin struggling – even if they eventually triumph in September

There was an ugly element to last weekend’s proceedings at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

There was an ugly element to last weekend’s proceedings at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Worrying terrace trend

As thrilling as Tipperary’s hurling was, there was an ugly element to last weekend’s proceedings at Semple Stadium. And not within the game itself.

In the hours and days following the game, worrying scenes emerged across the various realms of social media.

Violence. On the terraces. At the home of hurling. Horrifying.

While it must be acknowledged such carry-on was the result of a minority, the actions must not go unnoticed. And they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed as out of character with GAA events.

Over the past two years, brawling has slowly trickled into UK racing venues, to the point some racecourses are now viewed as locations for the dumb-witted to exercise the knuckles. In time that should have been spent acting rather than tutting a trend develops, one capable of ruining generations of reputation-building.

Indeed, it only takes two incidents to form a trend. But were the scenes at Semple Stadium the start, or the continuation of something that hasn’t received enough attention. Incidents in Ulster and Kerry prove the latter, though it’s hardly an epidemic . . . yet. A continuation of the present inertia, all the same, is inevitably going to lead to just that down the line.

The cries have gone out – GAA stadia are the new battlegrounds. The big surprise is these occurrences haven’t already escalated, given GAA terraces cultivate the perfect conditions for unlicensed fistic pursuits.

The GAA has long prided itself on the behaviour of its customers; once a customer goes elsewhere they will be, more than likely, happy to stay put.

Other sports will be more than happy to take the money of people unwilling to risk exposing their children to acts of faux machismo. Considering one incident is often – tragically – one too many, do we wait to see if something more sinister develops?

By the numbers: 1 - There has been only one Mayo v Galway Connacht final this decade (2014), for the first time since the 1970s

Faithful losing faith?

The heady days of the nineties have never looked so far away. Portents have been obvious for a number of years now; whether Offaly turned their backs on these warnings or were just simply unable to arrest the decline is a question only they can answer. The current narrative suggests the former.

Now, they are inevitably looking over the edge of an abyss, into the wilderness of Christy Ring country and everything that brings with it. Attendances fall; coverage dwindles; the glory of ;playing county’ is not all it was made out to be.

Offaly haven’t become a Christy Ring team overnight, but relegation is never decided on talent and history alone. Hurling, it can be said, is a game of confidence and Offaly’s reserves are perilously entering the red.

Already, their objective for the year – shooting straight back up into Liam MacCarthy company – is about to evaporate. And Joachim Kelly’s task of stopping the free-fall against Antrim this weekend is quickly becoming one that seems almost unattainable in present circumstances. Kerry’s win over Westmeath on Saturday sinks the county to the base of the Joe McDonagh table, meaning it’s becoming apparent a pointless McDonagh campaign is, shockingly enough, likely.

The Faithful need their faith now more than ever – it’s all they’ve got.

Quote of the week: “They haven’t got that sense of place that they can identify with. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Get the Casement Park thing sorted out number one.” – Mickey Harte highlights the obvious plight Antrim GAA are contending with.

Football’s summer blues

Hurling it is for the summer then. There was so much hope for football, and already that hope was smothered by yesterday morning. Dublin were always likely to win this year’s All-Ireland, but they had given a sense of fallibility during the spring, hence giving hope of a competitive championship.

Football needs Dublin struggling – even if they eventually triumph in September – to give the summer months that air of unpredictability.

Mayo, fresh off league success, were one great hope, arriving into Saturday night with that pseudo-confidence that had been missing for a few years. The budding Mayo momentum was shattered, and while Tyrone did a commendable job on Antrim, Dublin’s annihilation of Louth has already given away summer’s plot.

Hurling championships, meanwhile, bubble away nicely, as areas of little joy for the betting man.

Meath offered up a convincing display over the weekend, but the previous round suggests the Royals remain prone to the devil of inconsistency. Likewise, Donegal didn’t send a tremor through the competition.

There’s a feeling the peloton are catching up the the leading pack consisting of Mayo, Monaghan, Kerry and Tyrone. Or maybe they have fallen back into the main group. Or maybe it’s simply a case of both.

Nevertheless, Dublin are careering off ahead, the championship all but over.

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