Unfortunately there’s only so much you can do and while my prediction about the likelihood of him making a go of it as Blues manager may have been hopelessly wrong, my prediction about the idiocy of the eight-team First Division looks like it is coming to pass. With only eight teams in the division, the chances of overhauling runaway leaders like Limerick are practically impossible as they keep on out-muscling the minnows. Limerick have only lost four games all season and incredibly three of them have been against the Blues. We could win all our remaining games, including the fourth game against Limerick at Jackman Park, and it is likely we’ll still end up finishing behind them. It’s not Limerick’s fault, they can only play what’s put in front of them and we weren’t able to do the same to those teams on a regular basis, nor is it the fault of diddy teams (© Scottish soccer pundits) who are doing the FAI a favour by holding it together, which is more than can be said for Monaghan United. But such a lopsided league is not fit for purpose. You wonder whether the remainder of the League season is a phony war as the FAI prepare to address the current situation which only leaves a seven team-First Division for next season.
So Waterford find themselves facing up to the prospect of another play-off. In the 1960′s Waterford’s great enemy was Shamrock Rovers. Now it’s play-offs. The thought of a play-off against Longford, surely the most likely outcome at this stage of the season, will be bringing Blues fans out in a cold sweat. There is one reason to be cheerful, and that goes back to that win over Longford last week. When the Blues lost to Monaghan two seasons ago, it was on the back of six straight defeats to them. Longford were approaching similar Jonah-like proportions, but hopefully that particular boil has now been lanced. Then we’ll have another play-off with activitylife.info, most likely against UCD who made mincemeat of the Blues the last time I saw them play. They sure don’t make life easy for you, do they? We’ll probably be none the wiser about Waterford’s ultimate fate this season, but it’ll beat the Olympics opening ceremony hands down.
You know I love you, TG4, I really do. But showing the Under-21′s getting massacred as they were in Cusack Park tonight . . . that’s cruel. I convinced myself before the game that I was more prepared for defeat at this level than I would have been at Minor level. We have a far worse record and have endured some awful beatings, even in recent years, and playing away from home would probably be the straw that would break the camel’s back.
Complete tosh on all counts. While prepared for defeat, I wasn’t prepared for a defeat of this scale, our fourth-worst ever in the Under-21 football championship. As for playing badly away from the comforts of Walsh Park and Fraher Field, even if you strip out wins over whipping boys like Kerry and Antrim we still have recorded more than half of our victories in the competition away from home. In short, it was bad. No wonder the man in front of Michael Ryan above had his head in his hands.
It’s one of the great truisms of the GAA that underage success does not inevitably lead to Senior glory. But winning underage trophies is worthwhile on its own merits. Ask anyone who was in Nowlan Park in 1992. And while having talent coming through is not a sufficient condition for success at the highest level it has to be a necessary one. After a good couple of years (not least in Colleges and the Tony Forristal) this year has been a horrible reality check. Damn you, TG4, for inflicting this painful reality on me! What I need is some escapism, and what better place than Pravda, aka Liverpool FC TV. Ooh, it’s Liverpool 1-3 Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, I wonder what happens next in streamfodboldlive.dk. Deise Hurling informed me via Twitter that the man with his head in his hands is Timmy O’Keeffe, Secretary of our beloved County Board. Perhaps he was banking on a money-spinning home tie in the Munster Under-21 final against Tipperary at Walsh Park. There’s always next year, Timmy.