THE SPORTING DIARY: Less of the blame game and let's all act responsibly

THE SPORTING DIARY:  Less of the blame game and let's all act responsibly

It probably could have been played, but would the winners have behaved in a responsible manner?
The Donegal Co final has become a victim of the excesses of celebration by winning teams all over the country in recent weeks. Croke Park were left with little option but to call a halt to all club activity amid the rising numbers of Covid-19 and the advice coming from the health authorities.
We all have to take responsibility for this. When it comes to finals it is difficult to control emotions and passion. Winning a county championship was always celebrated with gusto and it was common practice in Ireland for that celebration to continue for a number of days.
The arrival of Covid-19 called for a change in that area but trying to get teams and supporters to suppress those emotions was like trying to hold back the tide.
Then last weekend we saw on TG4 the size of the attendance (limited to 200) which was in Pairc Tailteann, Navan for the Meath senior championship final. What's more, the sizeable attendance seemed to be all together with no social distancing. They could easily have made it look a lot better by spreading the attendance out.
It was a cracking game of football with Gaoth Dobhair man Ciaran O Fearraigh leading Ratoath to a smash and grab victory over Kells with a last gasp goal.
The rules were further ignored in Cork after their senior hurling final with crowds gathering for the celebrations as the Rockies won another classic final after extra-time.
The evidence from last weekend was added to an already poor picture from other counties (including Donegal) which left Croke Park with little option but to call a halt.
The Donegal senior final and Kilcar and Naomh Conaill have been caught in the crossfire and must now await a window during the intercounty campaign to play off the 2020 final.
They have been punished heavily, but if they are looking for someone to blame, then they should look no further than their fellow club players, both in Donegal and all over the country.
This was a year when things had to be done differently. All was fine until the championship got underway. Numbers were not adhered to; 200 became 500 and more; panel numbers were extended; even press boxes were not big enough.
Ways were found to get to see matches; it is the Irish way. Find a way around it . . . sure it'll be alright.
But it wasn't alright. The virus began winning, especially here in Donegal. And at the moment it is scary, with numbers continuing to rise and new clusters appearing in different areas.
This is not the time to start blaming anyone. It is a time for everyone to look at their own actions. Because it doesn't matter whether we are in Level 2 or Level 5, if people don't take responsibility for their own actions, this virus will not be crushed.
In relation to the county final and particularly to the Democrat Jury, my apologies to Daniel Breslin of Killybegs who was the victim of a misprint. His verdict should have been Naomh Conaill. We will probably run the jury again just to remind people whenever this final is played. And it could well be that it may not be played at all in this calendar year. If that comes to pass, then Donegal would be in the 2020 All-Ireland final!

The retirement of Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin last week was marked with some remarkable clips of his skill on various social media channels. He was one of the most skilful players to play the game in the modern era.
I saw on Twitter where former county chairman John McConnell had Connolly as No 5 on the most skilful players of his era. Some list - Mikey Sheehy, Matt Connor, Colm Gooch Cooper, Maurice Fitzgerald and Diarmuid Connolly.
I wouldn't quibble. There were some replies as to why Peter Canavan was not in the list. Or that Michael Murphy was a better all-round footballer. McConnell replied saying Canavan was No 6. And as for the best all-round footballer, that was a different argument.
The McConnell tweet certainly got some traction with other names mentioned being Declan Browne of Tipperary and Ciaran McDonald of Mayo.
Diarmuid Connolly deserves to be in there, a wizard off both feet, and he could hurl too.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of playing a round of golf at Cruit Island Golf Club with my weekly fourball from Bundoran. It had been quite a while since I was there and it was wonderful to experience the beauty of the place once more.
I had forgotten the uniqueness of the drive from the main road to the golf course and it is no surprise that it has been named in the Top 10 of 9 hole courses in the world by Golf Magazine.
Apart from the golfing experience, we were treated royally by Jimmy Bonner with a very welcome pot of tea when finished.
So impressed were my colleagues that they are already planning a return trip in 2021.

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