Watson’s Wand To Weave its Magic for Loughgiel

Liam Watson strikes. Pic by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Hurley maker Micheal Scullion’s link with that great ‘83 team ensures the Shamrocks prospects have once again been handmade at home in Loughgiel by Scullion Hurls.

Like his father before him, Micheal Scullion is hurley maker to the Shamrocks as they seek to emulate the men of ’83. In the weeks coming up to the game Micheal has been flat out with the spokeshave ensuring the Shamrocks have the ash for the job in hand. That and a constant supply of new sliotars for training and challenge games.

Said Micheal Scullion: “The majority of the team use Scullion Hurls now. I think there’s only a few boys don’t use my sticks but we’ll be working on them!”

Among the players that do ask Micheal to handmake their hurls is sharpshooter Liam Watson: “Yes, Liam has been using my hurls for a good while now. Every player is different in the stick they like and he has his own preferences.”

“It’s funny you soon get to know exactly what they want. In Liam’s case he likes a good thick handle with a large bas. He prefers a fresh hurl, says there’s something about the feel of fresh timber. Other lads would hate to use anything other than their number one stick but Liam got three new sticks off me for the match. He likes a fresh hurley and I make them the way he likes them. He’s raring to go.”

Although Micheal has been supplying the team, there wasn’t much demand for back up hurls during the semi final. He explains:

“There wasn’t a stick broken in the semi final. I was tempted to take the credit for that because of the way I’d made them.

“But I suppose it comes down to the style of hurling the boys are playing, they are hurling the ball very well rather than pulling on anything that moves. They are great to watch these days.”

With his brothers Joey and Martin in the Loughgiel ranks, Micheal will be hurling every ball from the Stand in Croke Park come Saturday. He knows too that every score that comes from the hurl of Liam Watson and most of his teammates has its roots in his workshop nestling opposite Shamrock’s pitch.

“It will be fantastic for the parish if we can win it” says Micheal. As a hurley maker he is delighted and immensely proud his handmade hurls will be used on the biggest stage of all in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

“It would be nice if Winker or our Joey could hit the winning score using one of my sticks, I just hope that boys can perform the way they did in the semi final again,” said Micheal with fingers crossed.

Just one more step to complete that link with ’83 All Ireland team.

A Dog’s Life Being a Manager

An authentic brown envelope. The name is scored out for obvious reasons.
Shops selling brown envelopes are set to come under surveillance following the decision by the GAA to enforce its existing policy on the payment of managers.

After all the hullabaloo over the vexed issue of payments, methinks they doth protest too much down in Croke Park and environs.

I think we have all been victims of a scam, a hoax, a cunning trick and a clever plan whereby the Powers that Be were seen to exercise due diligence by admitting there was a problem and agreeing to consult membership and from there do something  about it. The endgame? Well that’s easy figured out!

Of course the majority of counties duly came back and called upon Croke Park to endorse, reinforce and implement the status quo rather than introduce some regulated and limited form of payment to managers.

The irony and risibility of this cannot be lost on ordinary members. Counties whose roads are rife with coaches driving back and forth in well fuelled cars to take teams voted against any form of regulation. Now according to their will the only show in town as far managers are concerned, is the legitimate over-the-counter sort of  payment that isn’t causing anyone problem. So no point talking about that.

As for the other sort of problem, the under the counter, envelope in the back pocket, fill your car up there or here’s a load of free meat to keep you going nudge nudge. Well that doesn’t exist does it? You can’t touch what you can’t see can you? So how is anything to be done about this. God only knows.

Monday’s GAA statement said that the majority of counties had opted against such a change of policy to a regulated system (which would have been flouted anyway).

The management committee has now been mandated to fully implement the sport’s current official policy which bans payments to managers other than agreed expense.

“In their submissions, the vast majority of counties advocated the implementation of the association’s existing policy, rules and guidelines on its amateur status.”

“Management Committee approved the engagement of external expertise to assist in the development of procedures and actions to give effect to such implementation.

“On completion of this work, a report will be presented to the Management Committee.”

(Now I’m really crapping it!)

While the GAA has now indicated that it intends to tackle the area of unofficial payments to managers, it remains to be seen whether this will be possible in practice.

I wouldn’t be holding my breath. And by the way, a white envelope will do the job just as handy!

PS: Anyone know how to set up a bank account in the name of your dog?

Plunkett’s on the News

The Man from the Moy.
I used to love watching Plunkett Donaghy being interviewed on the television.

Especially when he made it on to the Monday evening news. Here was a man who was a refreshing change from the typical sports interview.

Plunkett actually sounded like people I knew and talked the way they talked.

He was from the Moy. To those who don’t know where the Moy is, it is a million miles away from the BBC.

For an audience of  sports fans fed a diet of Ulster rugby players like Trevor Ringland and even the heavily moustachioed stars of the Irish League, the likes of Ronnie McFall and Lindsay McKeown. Plunkett was an unreconstructed countryman to the core, blond hair gleaming in the camera and cheeks ruddy from a day flat out just being from the Moy. It was class.

If you switched on national television the banalities of Saturday night football were everywhen. Sandwiched between the compulsory use of the word ‘obviously’ were the liberal sprinkling of banally banal phrases: ‘He’s hit it with his left peg and it’s flown into the net.’ Updated for the modern era by Andy Gray’s ‘Take a bow son’, no television football coverage was complete without total reinforcement of the stereotype image of footballer as an absolute moron, incapable of stringing a few coherent words together in any meaningful way.

It usually was brought most starkly into focus when a foreign player sounded a hundred times more coherent than the local hero. The likes of Peter Schmeichel, Jan Molby before him. Even Ossie Ardiles form Argentina made more sense than the average league footballer. At least they could speak English.

That is why Plunkett was different. But he was an acquired taste –  you had to carve through the broad Tyrone accent to appreciate what he said. For all the craic nowadays when everybody has something to say and something or somebody. . . Twitter and Facebook just aren’t the same as an interview with Plunkett Donaghy.

Next week. . . Eamon Coleman. Now there was another legend!


When Good Men Say Nothing. . .

Media make hay yet no haymakers thrown
So Paraic Duffy has come out and openly criticised the media coverage surrounding this Derytresk and Dromid Pearses match.

The Ard Stiurthoir made his criticisms yesterday launching his report to Congress: “These were disagreeable incidents, and no-one in authority in the GAA will seek to minimise what occurred.”

“But the gap between what actually occurred and the presentation of what occurred was conspicuous. The incident became an unmissable opportunity in certain quarters to target the GAA and to indulge in the crudest forms of stereotyping of supporters of Gaelic games.

Given that it was the media coverage that caused a lot of the ill will; given that the video release to RTE was selective (and we are prepared to stand corrected on that but our information was they only received footage of the row); given that the coverage on YouTube was selective; and given the rash of anti Tyrone and anti Northern comments including the lamentable intervention by Dr Crokes concerning ‘family tickets’ at Portlaoise, surely Mr Duffy could have made a more profitable intervention at the time?

The video footage shown repeatedly cast the Derrytresk players, mentors and subs in a negative light. However, highlights subsequently release showed a game in which players that should have know better engaged in off the ball actions and were caught on camera yet got off scot free. Meanwhile the melee that attracted all the media opprobrium led to the suspension of key players that undoubtedly derailed Derrytresk’s All Ireland bid.

Paraic Duffy is correct to criticise those who used the coverage to lambast the GAA and then conveniently pretend that the sort of ill-disciplined behaviour that we saw that day goes on week in week out.

What he and other officers need to guard against is increasingly media savvy Club PR people who can use their wiles to selectively release material that ensures others are found guilty in the eyes of the media before the GAA disciplinary wheels grind into motion.

In the era of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and a growing rash of supporter’s blogs and citizen journalists, these are real concerns.