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Pat Spillane: Common sense prevails as Glen withdraw to allow Kilmacud Crokes win

I commend Glen for doing the honourable thing and football is getting its kick back

Kilmacud Crokes players, from left, Paul Mannion, Shane Walsh and Cian O'Connor celebrate after their All-Ireland SFC Club victory. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Colm O'Callaghan of Cork in action against Meath players Ronan Jones, right, and Cathal Hickey. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Pat SpillaneSunday World

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia – common sense has prevailed in the ‘sub-gate’ saga.

Glen has done the honourable thing by withdrawing from the process, which effectively ends the sorry mess. I commend their decision.

But I can’t help thinking the entire episode was, to quote Shakespeare, ‘much ado about nothing.’

A mountain was created out of a molehill. Why?

The GAA sat on its hands for a couple of days, which created an information vacuum.

Into it poured all kinds of misinformation and disinformation, with the usual high-profile media pundits inserting themselves into the story, and driving it on.

On top of that, there was a siege mentality from Ulster, which suggested there was a bias against Glen. All the fake news and lopsided narratives just muddied the water.

So let’s, for one final time, state the facts. It was the officials who made the mistake, not Kilmacud Crokes. The Dublin champions deserved to win the game – they should have won it more comfortably. The 16th man had absolutely no influence on the game or its outcome.

There is no denying it has been an embarrassing couple of weeks for the GAA. The story got the full 24-7 news cycle treatment.

What are the learnings from it?

Firstly, the GAA has to implement the rules and regulations regarding the introduction of substitutions. Christ, it’s not rocket science.

Finally, and most importantly, the GAA must be proactive when a problem arises, rather than sit on its hands and hope it blows away.

Please spare us phrases like ‘due process has to be adhered to.’ Take a leaf out of the Peter McKenna playbook.

When the row erupted over the Katie Taylor fight not going ahead in Croke Park he took control of the narrative, and blew Eddie Hearn’s arguments out of the water. It was a masterclass in how to nip a controversy in the bud.

My head was already frazzled without the club saga to contend with. So many games and so many talking points.

But can I digress for a moment, and put on the record my admiration for county players?

Colm O'Callaghan of Cork in action against Meath players Ronan Jones, right, and Cathal Hickey. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

They are modern-day gladiators. They are fitter, stronger and more skilful than their predecessors. And what’s often overlooked is how many of them hold down full-time jobs.

The father of a county player recently told me the hoops his son had to go through to play in a game.

His employers refused to give him time off, so he worked from 6am to 2pm before driving three hours to the game.

Last Sunday I was served food in a restaurant by a footballer scarcely an hour after he had played in an Allianz League game. He had changed into his working clothes in the dressing room.

Most fans have no idea of the sacrifices players make.

Last Sunday I wrote that I wasn’t hopeful for the season ahead.

My concerns relate to how Gaelic football is being coached, and the herd mentality which exists among the coaching fraternity.

Too many counties set up as mirror images of each other, which means games are boring to watch, particularly on television.

The tactics are straight out of the basketball playbook: players hugging the sideline and not bringing the ball into contact. Keeping possessing is king, which leads to endless recycling of the ball.

At least there is a shot clock in basketball, and players in possession are more innovative than their GAA counterparts.

I have a confession to make. At half-time in the Dublin v Kildare match I pressed record on my TV and went to Mass.

Actually it’s a brilliant way to watch a game, because you can fast-forward all the boring bits. I’d say it took me 15 minutes to watch the second half.

Let’s not be too pessimistic. There are some green shoots.

I recently saw the best Gaelic football match for a long time – a cracking Freshers Championship tie between UCC and MTU, which featured a wonder goal from Jordan Kissane. Watch it on YouTube.

There were green shoots as well in the opening round of the Allianz League.

Off Broadway in a Division 4 tie in Sligo’s Markievicz Park, I watched Laois give a master class in kicking.

They nullified the blanket defence by (a) kicking the ball quickly before Sligo had time to get their defensive wall in place; (b) using diagonal foot passes which nullified the sweeper; and (c) kicking points over the blanket from long range.

New Meath manager Colm O’Rourke said he wanted to bring kicking back into the game.

That’s exactly what his players did against Cork, hitting first time foot passes into the Royal forwards and they did the rest.

Hopefully the tiny green shoots we witnessed last weekend will blossom in the months ahead.

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