Emphasis is now on sensationalism and not balance
Whilst at a recent championship preview night in the Talbot Stillorgan hotel, expertly hosted by an ever probing Ivan Yeats, the question of how fairly the media and particularly former player turned pundits treat present GAA players became an interesting if rather divisive discussion.
I strongly feel that the emphasis is now to focus on sensationalism rather than balanced summation, with some players in particular treated less than fairly by people who should know better.
Joe Canning (one of the greatest hurlers of the modern or any other era) is constantly referred to as a player that hasn't produced when it matters.
Complete nonsense, and whether he wins a Celtic cross or not before retirement won't cloud the fact that we are privileged to have witnessed his career.
Aidan O'Shea is another who seems to incur the wrath of the "things were better in our day" gang. I don't know, nor have ever met the Western giant but do appreciate that he is a very fine footballer. Bernard Flynn saw it necessary to point out Aidan's latest so called indiscretion. After a challenge game between Meath and Mayo the Breaffy man stayed signing autographs and posing for selfies with some children and fans that had surrounded him, rather than join in the warm down, team circle, that had formed close by. The inference was seemingly that it showed an individuality that wasn't good in a team environment.
Surely, however, it must have dawned on Bernard that it would have left a much sourer taste if GAA superstar Aidan O'Shea had walked away from the young admirers. There is no doubt that some people are damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
We also touched on difficult opponents and the modern day sledging that has become part of the game. I have to admit that I had never been subjected to much on field abuse in my time and always found the fellow that was nice to me much harder to handle.
I remember playing on the great Joe Hennessy many years ago and when we took a big lead early Joe's conversation turned to Offaly and how we would get on with them in the final. We barely won the game, I had a great first half and spent the last 20 minutes in the dugout so in a funny way Joe's psychological warfare, however unusual succeeded.
Martin Hanamy (who was a tremendous corner back) always greeted me at the start of the second half with a shoulder and comment, "you're still here, Tom", and this was his way into your head.
Harmless comments but every bit as effective as insult. I remember meeting Johnny Pilkington (another great character) in Mulligan's of Poolbeg Street after a heart-breaking defeat to Offaly in which we were direct opponents for half the game.
After analysing and discussing the match Johnny smiled and asked, "were you up at the game yourself, Tom?" Needless to say I hunted him down in 96 and 97 when the results went the other way.
I spoke to an eminent Laois man two weeks ago and he told me his County hoped to get Wexford in the upcoming draw as they feared Offaly more than the Slaneysiders.
I can't put the warning any more succinctly to Davy and his men before Sunday. Injuries to Damian Reck and Shaun Murphy haven't helped and it's only a couple of years ago that the Midlanders were within a penalty of putting Galway out.
Free elimination is vital with Ross King averaging huge totals and in Paddy Purcell, Stephen Maher and Willie Dunphy they have players to hurt any team.
They troubled us in Wexford Park early in the year and have experienced our sweeper system using centre forward Charles Dwyer defensively to counteract. They have struggled at times with the Kerry's and Westmeath's of this world however and I am fully confident that we are at a higher level and should comfortably see off the challenge. They key is to establish our intentions early and put our supremacy on the board. Portlaoise is not the place for idealism or fanciness so we need to be clinical and attack from the off. More of the same from early 2017 and the dream fixture in June will become a reality. Up Wexford.