The girls of Wexford answer Ireland's call.
Thank God for Bil, John, Liam and Eamon, our national soccer pundits, they tell it like it is. Over the years sport has been analysed and examined so much that we have now reduced all conversation and aspirations about sport and performance down to comparing infinite statistics. We know at any time in a game how much ground a player has covered and how much money his celebrity girl friend spends in a week. Our neighbours across the water are subjected to the most excruciating piffle from their football experts, not so Irish viewers. Dunphy's excellent summation, no plan, no leadership and a few good individual performances. was spot on Sat. night after our disappointing draw against a weak Slowakian eleven.
These days football players have tree trunk thighs and six packs. Let's face it ..they need to be bigger and stronger to take care of all that money they make. Playing for teams owned by multinational investment companies with budgets you could run a third world country on, players are worth a lot more today than the players of the past and are an investment, a commodity to be traded, with a short shelf life and a need to command the highest price while the going is good.
A common sight in today's game is that of players launching themselves into mid air at the mere threat of a tackle with subsequent writhing and grimacing. This practice can also be directly traced back to the introduction of big bucks into the game and is actually more about self protection than cheating. All players know how to fall and hey, a preemptive dive is better than a costly injury, if a free kick results or maybe even a penalty, well, that could possibly even win a game.
One commentator commenting on Ireland's poor showing against the far more motivated Namibians (rated 25th in the world) in Ireland's opening game of the rugby world cup, criticized what he perceived as a lack of commitment. The criticism seemed to revolve around Ireland's unwillingness to commit to the physical battle, in stark contrast to the Namibian part- timers who's delight in representing their country was palpable. One reason cited was that players wanted to avoid injury in the early games.
While pondering these worrying trends it occurred to me, the real high point of the sporting week has got to be Wexford's sensational defeat of camogie all Ireland champions Cork who were looking for their third All Ireland in a row. Showing a level of commitment and spirit sadly lacking in both our national rugby and soccer teams, both teams but especially Wexford served up a fast exciting feast of camogie. These girls were never in doubt as to why they were on the field, each one worked tirelessly and fearlessly for their county without the distraction of financial gain or loss. Perhaps Eddie and Stan and our soccer and rugby heroes could learn something from the girls of Wexford.