Thursday, April 03, 2008

To Have Done Some Service

Bertie Ahern, Ian Paisley, Tony Cousins. All fallers in the 2008 Grand National. All plying their respective trades at the top of their field in our native land when the inquisitors arrived. I'll take any flak that's coming over the odd-one out.

The culling of Damian Richardson served notice to managers of what we still quaintly refer to as 'full-time set-ups'. The phrase reminds us that as a league we are young - maturing but not yet mature. As is the case with nature we all mature at different rates. As is the case with rugby players some induce their development by unnatural means; building a heavy framework on weak foundations. Some have learned lessons from others. Shelbourne retain the monopoly on financial collapse.

There are those who prefer to take the incremental albeit more circuitous route. When Arkaga Investments moved into Cork City they displayed no emotion - in came the FAI Cup, out went Damo. When the board at Galway United decided that they were ready to push their currach onto the stormy waters of professionalism they cast an eye eastward. Not exactly replete with reserves, they opted for a cut-price appointment - Tony Cousins had no previous management experience, but was shadowing the achievements of Paul Doolin at Drogheda United. That Cousins applied for the Galway job was a mark of his ambition; that in itself may have appealed to the Board.

There was a sense in the early days of his tenure that the former striker was learning his trade as he went along. It's one thing to have the badges; another to have the ability to apply what you have learned to the situation that you are in. Most of us who follow the game could waffle our way through a post-match interview, that's without the badge. Week following week the Galway boss appeared before the cameras with unconvincing explanations preceding lines of the 'have to do better' genre.

And it went on. And on. And nothing changed. The lame protestations about premature displacement belied the knowledge within. TC knew he hadn't done enough; knew his number was up - he still has the gig on the taxi ads anyway. The rumblings around the squad's fitness levels can't have done much to endear him to his board. There is no disputing the fact that the Board themselves erred. Whatever faith remained following their first season in the Premier Division, the reserves ebbed rapidly away with each one of those dropped 11 points in the opening four weeks of the campaign. As a result the new man comes into a squad not of his choosing and must knock seven shades out of them until the summer transfer window.

In no particular order - Bohs, Pats, Cork and Drogs. Most people's Top 4. Derry City are on the fringes, along with the Hoops. That's 6. Then there's Sligo Rovers who can give anyone a game on their day. So that's the top 7 sorted, arguably. Galway United finished 8th last season. It certainly is going to be the most competitive league in years, and whoever takes over the vacant position at Galway United has a tough task ahead of him.

Entering the fray bestowed with the knowledge that he has to create something better than that which Scully has carved out at Shamrock Rovers - not officially a professional set-up - must be his first target. They are the benchmark for any fledgling pro club, a testament to their new-found organisation and staunch support. Somehow it seems like the perfect gig for Sean Connor. Attracting players to our western seaboard is a difficult ask; he lured the likes of Darren Mansaram, Liam Burns, Harpal Singh and Faz Kudozovic to the outcrop that is Sligo town -
OK, I've never been there.

Granted they have not all been outstanding succeses - but they are all possessed of a quality which illuminates the summer turf on a wet and windy summer's night, be that in Galway or otherwise. Oh, and Steve Bruce might visit.

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