Player Power at play?

Brian Flannery Reports

Well that was a busy week in the Sunny South East. A week-long World GAA Games at WIT Carriganore followed by the ‘Altogether Now’ music festival and annual Spraoi weekend.My only brush with the music festival was a hasty retreat from traffic gridlock past Carrick-on-Suir. I’m reliably informed that, traffic chaos aside, it was another successful event for the young folk while Spraoi once again attracted crowds in the thousands.

The GAA World Games was a superb festival of Gaelic games with teams from around the Globe competing to qualify for the finals held at Croke Park on Friday last. Galway native Johnny Glynn playing in New York GAA colours did all that he could for his team but just missed out on a Croke Park appearance on this occasion. The Brittany and French native teams along with the team from South Africa were crowd favourites. The chatter among the different teams in multiple languages signified a hotchpotch of cultures colliding with our national games at the centre.

Pictured outside Tully's Bar, O'Connell Street on Tuesday night last were members of the Brittany GAA World Games team after they presented Tom O'Neill, Chairman, Gaultier GAA Club with a World Games jersey.  Members of the Waterford-St. Herblain town twinning committee were also in attendance and they included, Davy Walsh, Vincent Walsh and Kieran Walsh, MD, Munster Express. Anne Marie O'Rourke, Head Coach, Brittany GAA World Games team, Arnaud Vitran, Kilian Latry, Elena Benoist and Alexandre Clavet from the Brittany team.  Photo: Noel Browne

Pictured outside Tully's Bar, O'Connell Street on Tuesday night last were members of the Brittany GAA World Games team after they presented Tom O'Neill, Chairman, Gaultier GAA Club with a World Games jersey. Members of the Waterford-St. Herblain town twinning committee were also in attendance and they included, Davy Walsh, Vincent Walsh and Kieran Walsh, MD, Munster Express. Anne Marie O'Rourke, Head Coach, Brittany GAA World Games team, Arnaud Vitran, Kilian Latry, Elena Benoist and Alexandre Clavet from the Brittany team. Photo: Noel Browne


A beautiful sight under the sun at Carrignaore.At the end of each day’s games the young and not so young players, mentors, families and supporters congregated at the service area to sing, dance and celebrate their heritage. Memories and friendships that were forged in Waterford at the World Games will last for many years to come.WIT arena at Carriganore is really a world class facility we’re fortunate to have at our doorstep and was a perfect host venue for the GAA World Games.

Well done to all involved who contributed to a wonderful occasion and in particular to Tallow native Pat Daly who was instrumental in bringing the Games to Waterford city.Of course the really big local GAA news centred on the announcement that Pauric Fanning is stepping down as manager of the Waterford senior hurlers after one season in charge. County chairman Paddy Joe Ryan was fulsome in his praise and thanks to Pauric and his management team and indeed backroom set up for their voluntary contribution over the last twelve months.

Many tributes were also paid locally with members of the local media like Tomas McCarthy and Matt Keane citing an unprecedented level of cooperation in their interactions with the Waterford manager over the past year. But there you go come next May Waterford will have a third manager in as many years. Speculation is rife that once again ‘Player Power’ had a part to play in Fanning’s decision to step aside. If that is the case I can only assess that Pauric Fanning is acting in the best interests of Waterford hurling and his statement last Friday alluded to this. Of course players wishes also played major roles in the departure of Justin McCarthy and Michael Ryan and now again it seems with Pauric Fanning’s resignation.
The year was progressing swimmingly well with significant success in the National Hurling League leading to a final appearance at Croke Park. The vibes following a training camp in Portugal were all good and leaving the subsequent championship failure all the more disappointing.
In the last two seasons under two different managers (Derek McGrath and Pauric Fanning) Waterford senior hurlers failed to win a single championship game from eight attempts.

Looking from the outside there appeared to be resistance from some players to adapt to a new style of play this season under the management of Pauric Fanning. The players who emerged with most credit this year are the likes of Callum Lyons, Jack Prendergast, Conor Prunty and Billy Nolan. All of these players were making their championship debuts and looked to have no hang ups about game plans, just pride in wearing the Waterford jersey. What level of say a small number of so-called ‘senior’ players should have on the future of any manager is certainly open to question. When the season ends effectively the panel is disbanded and at this stage who knows which players will be retained for the coming season or not.

Twelve months ago it seems a number of so called ‘senior’ players met with both Mattie Kenny and Pat Ryan in relation to discussing the position of the Waterford manager. Does it now mean that players effectively have a veto on the appointment of the next Waterford senior hurling manager?The unnamed players who indicated they would prefer a change in management may not even be on the panel for the coming season. Not an easy circle to square.

Players may well argue that they invest huge amount of time in preparation to play for Waterford and are entitled to voice their opinion on the appointment of any manger and indeed if a manager should be retained. A players’ career is often short-lived and an effective management set-up is important for all to achieve their goals.In all areas of life where there is disappointment or failure the temptation is to engage in finger pointing. Sometimes the reasons for poor performance lie much closer to home.
If as it seems that ‘Player Power’ was instrumental in this latest management change it is also true that we’re running out of excuses for continuing poor performance from our senior hurlers.
What’s that saying “Be Careful what you wish for”?

There are many issues facing Waterford hurling at the moment with all sorts of challenges to be overcome.The appointment of a new senior manager is important and I wish those involved in the process the best of luck.

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