The GAA’s Berlin Wall
It’s early morning after Éire Óg’s great win in the Leinster Club Championship Semi Final over Portlaoise.
Carlow Clubs will this year contest a 7th Leinster Club Senior Football Final since 1980 and a second Leinster Club Senior Hurling Final.
Éire Óg first appeared in the 1980 Final when losing to Meath’s Walterstown. Éire Og were trained by Dan Carbery at that time. Dan was from an athletics background – he had ran in the historic first sub four minute mile to take place in Ireland, the first occasion five men had run sub four minutes in the same race. He was a lover of all sports and life long student of sports performance. Dan always claimed the reason they lost the Final was they never truly believed in their ability.
In other words they expected to lose.
Roll on to the glorious 1990s and Laois legend Bobby Miller, arrived into Páirc Uí Bhriain where he instilled that self belief and structures which enabled Éire Óg to transform from an underachieving club from a success starved county into the dominant club team of the decade.
Five Leinster Club titles. Two All Ireland Final appearances.
They expected to win.
Fast forward to 2000, Éire Óg’s cross town rivals O Hanrahans (100 years old this year) picked up on that self belief and in a changing of the Carlow mindset went on to Leinster glory when defeating Na Fianna of Dublin 1-7 to 0-5.
Mount Leinster Rangers Hurlers fed off this new found self confidence in Carlow club to claim an historic first Leinster Senior Hurling Club title when beating Oulart-the-Ballagh 0-11 to 0-8 in 2013.
Last week St Mullins emulated Rangers by qualifying for this years Leinster Club Final having taken the scalp of two time All Ireland winers Cuala in the opening round and Rathdowney Erill in the semi final.
Two Carlow Clubs contesting the two provincial Senior Club finals in the same year.
There are four senior hurling clubs in Carlow and eight senior football Clubs!
Carlow Senior hurlers and footballers have also achieved ‘above their station’ in recent times.
Despite the great progress of the senior hurlers, they were relegated unnecessarily out of the Leinster SHC. The same fate possibly awaits Laois in 2020. It shouldn’t.
And now the GAA are intent on football apartheid by denying Division 3 and 4 Counties the opportunity to play for the Sam Maguire. Second class citizens of a supposedly community based sports organisation.
‘Where we all belong’ Yeah right. Slick marketing campaigns may be catchy but are meaningless and insulting.
A genuine dual county. A tiny county.
I compare it to the Berlin Wall.
An artificial man made barrier dividing the same nation.
The super powers (GAA HQ) sometimes complete a prisoner exchange and allow a limited number through Checkpoint Charlie. The top 2 teams in Division 3 escape and the bottom 2 in Division 2 are incarcerated.
But the masses have little chance of penetrating that barrier.
For years we knew little about life in East Germany. It will be like that in the Tier 2. Forgotten. Out of the media spotlight. No opportunity to promote the game. We will become a wasteland.
The sad part is that some of our counties have voted for this.
In the words of the great Jim Larkin, ‘The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise’.
The reason some counties voted for this ludicrous proposal is because their expectations are at an all time low. They have stopped believing.
Dan Carbery was right.
Bobby Miller was right.
Henry Ford was right.
‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right’.
Thank you Éire Óg.
Thank you O Hanrahans.
Thank you Mount Leinster Rangers.
Thank you St. Mullins.