While hoping that Waterford can bounce back this season, and reach another All-Ireland final – as he’s “no doubt in the wide world” his native county won’t be still be involved come September – ol’ Mr Okey Doke himself (main picture) reckons right in on the Rebels’ side.
Indeed, it so happens that Bill O’Herlihy’s sentiments garnered a majority round of applause among the ‘away’ Park Hotel crowd, as he blamed the county board for what’s happened. “I don’t go along with Pat Spillane about the Cork players because when they got everything sorted out in 2002 they were in four successive All-Irelands, and they won two of them, so I wouldn’t say a thing against the fellas who’ve hurled for Cork, but I’d say a lot against the people in the background.”
Which is more than secretary Frank Murphy has to say for himself. Does An Rúnaí not think he should give his side of the story, instead of constantly sending county board chairman Jerry O’Sullivan, a mere figurehead let’s face it, out to bat against his two sons and their fellow strikers?
I’ve long since come to the conclusion that Gerald McCarthy should never have taken the job in the first place. He was too long out of the inter-county scene – six years; Brian Corcoran let it be known that the overly-influential senior players didn’t want him to begin with, and went out of their way to make him feel unwelcome; and his attempts to impose change for change’s sake were self-defeating.
But if appointing him initially was unwise, reappointing him was among the worst decisions in Irish sport since Ray Treacy suggested to Mick McCarthy that Saipan might be a good spot for a pre-World Cup chill-out.
McCarthy tried to draw a line in the mud last week, saying he’d negotiate no more. However, the pressure within clubs, with players and officials scowling across enemy lines, must be immense. With the stayaway stars putting the ball in the clubs’ court, it’s hard to see committees, and particularly county board delegates, not buckling under the strain as the League starts, and, as I predicted from the outset, McCarthy being forced to make way in, if not the national interest, then that of the peculiar ‘People’s Republic’.
The fine line as to whether players should have a veto over who picks them was crystalised when O’Herlihy inquired of Eoin Kelly if, given Waterford’s own show of “player power” last summer, he could sympathise with the Cork lads’ stance.
The Passage clubman didn’t duck the question: “I would be sympathetic in fairness… they know what’s right to win an All-Ireland. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy…”
That said, while they should be allowed to say they won’t play for the current ‘Mick Bloggs’, they can’t be allowed to pick the next ‘Mick Bloggs’. Which is the whole crux of the controversy.
‘Lightening’ the mood, Bill asked the All Star about Waterford’s sorry show last September 7. “What happened in your estimation? “We got hammered.” As Bill surmised, “Ask a stupid question…”
Contrary to some claims, Kelly, as he’d said 24 hours earlier in the Granville, maintained that “the build-up was perfect, the selectors did everything right.” On the day Kilkenny could do no wrong. “If they hit the ball to go wide it would have hit a stone and gone over.”
Bill wondered should he put a few euros on Waterford for the McCarthy Cup in ’09. Maybe… at a handicap of “minus 15.”
Pity they hadn’t a few Franks and Ógs up in Kilkenny, eh. Then we’d be laughing.