Monday 18 December 2017

Focused Anne's have got the celebrations out of their systems

RUMOURS THAT some St. Anne's players have changed religion and that a new shrine has been installed pitch-side in Rathangan have been strongly denied by the club Chairman in the last few days.

People were looking for an explanation as to why some players were seen on their hands and knees at some recent training sessions. The fact that some were established players added to the confusion but it seems the fact that they were facing Mecca at the time was pure coincidence.

The real explanation was that the first two nights back training after their county title win were extremely tough and physically demanding. Players were using the wellknown recovery position for anyone who had enjoyed themselves too much for a few days, after a previously long term of minding their bodies.

By all accounts celebrations have been parked for the time being and serious training has resumed for an assault on the Leinster Club championships. This is a wise move and it seems that the players and management have an ambition to match their outstanding talent.

The draw has been favourable too as they are due to play the Longford champions on Sunday next. Their opponents, Emmet Og, won their title last Sunday after a replay against Longford Slashers. While the two games in two weeks will have sharpened their fitness levels, it has to be remembered that this is their first title in 17 years. Players being only human, they will have celebrated in style for at least a couple of days.

There is added spice to this clash given the recent history of games between Wexford and Longford at intercounty level. Emmet Og are backboned by three county stars, Seán and Pádraig McCormack and Michael Quinn, who will look to exact some form of revenge for their championship defeat to Wexford earlier this year. However, a three-week break after winning the county title is ample time to re-group and re-focus, so St. Anne's will be well prepared. I think they have the players and the gameplan to progress to the next round with a victory in Pearse Park on Sunday.

Unfortunately after some terrific county finals around the country last weekend, news of violent scenes at G.A.A. matches made bigger headlines than the games themselves. In Limerick a player was assaulted by a spectator, while in Ulster a supporter was arrested for continuously abusing players.

My first reaction to the arrest was that the abuse must have been really bad, because we have all witnessed idiots at games shouting obscenities at players. Great credit is due to the Gardaí and stewards for taking action.

The photos from Limerick showed the difference in age profile between the attacker and the player. Thankfully from the player's point of view he just defended himself and did not over-react, as otherwise the incident could have escalated. Imagine the damage a young player at the peak of his fitness could inflict on a man possibly 20 years his senior. Immediate action will be taken by the G.A.A. as they normally do take these matters very seriously. I do not know what charge the offenders in both cases will face because to the best of my knowledge there is no law against being a clown masquerading as a supporter.

Almost every year every county has a problem with similar incidents. The problem is not just confined to G.A.A. as there are incidents in soccer and rugby also. The controlling bodies can only do so much as not every game can be played in an enclosed pitch and patrolled by stewards and Gardaí. The responsibility lies with the individual and maybe they should just stop going to matches, as the associations do not need them and the clubs certainly do not need them.

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