The news that the Munster Council have apparently fixed the provincial senior hurling championship semi-final between Waterford and Clare for Bank Holiday Monday, June 7th is obviously owed to the increasing influence of television.
Why else would they depart from the norm – novelty value? Hardly. If they proceed as planned the attendance in Thurles will be way down on what would be expected were the game on a day earlier. It will of course be Davy Fitzgerald’s championship debut against his native county, whomever is managing them come then, and the Waterford boss is touting his old team-mate Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin to take over from the embattled Mike McNamara.
One of Fitzgerald’s predecessors on the Clare goal, the great Seamus Durack, used last Saturday’s Munster GAA awards in Dungarvan to bring up the subject of team managers, particularly at club level, receiving ‘under-the-counter’ payments.
Certainly it’s a grey area which must be of concern to the ethics police in Croke Park. Given his experiences as one of the top men in FÁS, one would think that GAA President Christy Cooney will be loathe to ignore the issue much longer, particularly in the current Revenue-conscious climate.
Durack, who received the hurling ‘Hall of Fame’ Award from council chairman, Lismore’s Jimmy O’Gorman, feels that if inter-county managers are being paid a salary (which, whatever way you want to dress it up, most of them are) then they are entitled to a contract. Which seems like sound practice, though then the question of compensation would arise if and when managers are sacked. And that’s simply something county boards couldn’t countenance, particularly with the prevalence of player power.
P.S. Thanks to Roger Ryan who responded to my recent query as to when might have been the last time both Waterford’s senior hurlers and footballers reached their respective Munster finals (a possibility in 2010 given their reasonably winnable semi-final assignments, both against the Banner). Take it away Roger: “Waterford appeared in both Munster senior finals in 1957. The hurlers defeated Cork in a memorable game at Thurles and the footballers were beaten by the Rebels at the sane venue just a week later. Three Waterford players appeared in both matches – Tom Cunningham (Dungarvan), Mickey O’Connor (Cappoquin) and Seamus Power (Mount Sion). If memory serves me right, Eamon Goulding (Glen Rovers/St Nicholas) may have also played for Cork in both finals.”
Maith an fear.