The pressure is on for someone old, someone new, someone on loan and someone red
Who would be a manager? Brian Cody, Stephen Kenny, Vera Pauw and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer are all currently under increasing pressure. But the killer for them is that some of that pressure results from circumstances beyond their control.
A tough year can be expected for someone old, someone new, someone on loan and someone red.
The old one is Brian Cody, whose reappointment as Kilkenny manager seems an automatic annual ritual. Yet Kilkenny’s apparent poise belies a year in which the Cats have again lost pace at the top.
Another provincial title meant little when the championship got so lopsided that the top five teams in this year’s competition all came from Munster. Despite having benefited from a draw that placed Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford and Galway in the other half, Kilkenny still failed to advance to the final.
Instead, they lost to a side from Cork whose final performance suggests they are hardly the second best team in the country. The Rebels were still good enough, like Waterford last year, to expose the weakness of a Kilkenny side whose favoritism was based on reputation rather than achievement.
Even Cody’s supporters can hardly miss the parallels between him and Mickey Harte, whose dismissal by Tyrone last year proved to be a masterstroke. The arguments used in favor of staying with Cody, that past victories entitle him to loyalty, that he will eventually make a difference, that he cannot be blamed for the shortcomings of the players, are the same used by those who have argued against Tyrone dropping his veteran manager.
Yet Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan have shown that sometimes a team simply benefits from fresh eyes and the extra energy that goes with it. Artists like Kieran McGeary, Conor Meyler, Darren McCurry and Conn Kilpatrick produced performances this year that few suspected they were capable of.
Tyrone’s success proved Harte hung on for too long. Kilkenny’s willingness to fall into the same trap is odd, with proven-able managers like Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin waiting backstage. The football final should give some in the county food for thought.
The new one is Stephen Kenny, whose future speculation was unexpectedly heightened by the sacking of Chris Hughton after Nottingham Forest took a point in their first seven league games.
Hughton appeared to be a formidable Irish manager for a decade when he led Newcastle United and Norwich City in the Premier League and allowed City and Brighton to survive comfortably in the top flight.
But such speculation seemed like a fantasy given the former Spurs star’s position in the club game. Yet the fact that it is now available seems to counter two of the most popular arguments of Kenny’s supporters.
The first, Tony Pulis’ theory, suggests that the current coach’s sacking would inevitably lead to a return to the most antediluvian form of front-row football. The second, Robbie Keane’s theory, argues that Kenny would be replaced by an unqualified candidate whose primary attribute would be his availability.
Hughton, whose career has been distinguished by his commitment to attractive attacking football and who has proven himself as a manager at the highest level, shows that there is an alternative.
The FAI probably owes Stephen Kenny a chance to participate in the European Championship qualifying campaign. But Chris Hughton as an Irish manager would be an exciting prospect.
Vera Pauw, who counts as borrowed because she’s from another country (go ahead, okay?) Seems just as besieged as Kenny. After seven straight losses, Ireland face a tough task against the Australian Olympic semi-finalists in Tallaght on Tuesday.
Further pressure could be put on the manager by a draw which gave Ireland matches against their strongest opponents to start the World Cup qualifying group. Next month’s matches against Sweden and Finland are the most difficult start possible.
The initial spin on Ireland’s failure to qualify for these European finals was that it was a gallant effort that represented progress. But that became impossible to maintain when Northern Ireland, with a squad made up largely of domestic league players, not only qualified but did so by beating the Ukraine team that knocked us out. .
There was also a massive elimination of the Irish internationals from the Women’s Super League with Rianna Jarrett, Megan Campbell, Leanne Kiernan, Courtney Brosnan and Ruesha Littlejohn all of whom were released and lost a division in the past year.
Pauw also had to contend with the controversy over Tyler Toland’s omission from the panel. All of this leaves him in as much need of a win to boost morale as his male counterpart.
The red component of the equation is probably the one that needs the least sympathy. Still, Manchester United’s loss to Young Boys on Tuesday was made even worse by Manchester City’s exhilarating performance against Leipzig and Liverpool’s generally moving victory over AC Milan 24 hours later.
United’s display once again illustrated the team’s inability to find the consistency needed to win anything and once again raised question marks over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ability.
It looks like a defining season for the Norwegian as even his staunchest defenders can’t claim he doesn’t have the players. Although the determination to continue to paint Solskjaer as cruelly hampered by the Glazers, may explain the bizarre articles claiming United would be better off without Cristiano Ronaldo.
In reality, Ronaldo will improve United and score a lot of goals in the process.
Still, Solskjaer like Cody, Kenny and Pauw will have felt the pressure build up a bit over the past week. For all four of them, the year is both perilous and promising. By this time next year, the whole quartet could be out of work. Or they could bask in the glare of the “responds to critics” style headlines.
But whatever the external pressures, in the long run their fate will depend on what they do themselves. Keep fooling yourself and the old, the new, the loan and the red will soon be singing the blues.
Dublin and Kerry meet in college football clash with Irish punters backed to shine
The phrase “Irish Punters” may conjure up an image of a guy throwing money over the counter in a betting shop, but it will have a different sound when Georgia Tech hosts North Carolina in college football next Saturday night. .
David Shanahan from Kerry and Ben Kiernan from Dublin fill the same role for UNC. They got there by different routes.
Kiernan’s experience is in rugby. He was first at Blackrock College before moving with his parents to the United States at the age of 15. There he started punting with such success that he was a high school prospect before being drafted to North Carolina where he is currently in his third season.
Shanahan was a Gaelic footballer with Castleisland Desmonds who played under 17 for Kerry. A huge college football fan, he uploaded a video of himself kicking an agency that has turned Australian players from the rules into college bettors.
Last week he made his debut for Georgia Tech – his very first competitive American football game. Shanahan was singled out for praise from Coach Geoff Collins for averaging 52.7 yards per punt against Northern Illinois.
Dempsey’s style contributed a lot to a hard-fought final
Last Sunday’s All-Ireland camogie final seemed very important for two reasons. One of them was that by rushing to a victory with a big late comeback, Galway confirmed their arrival as a major power in the sport.
It was a second victory in three years for the team inspired by brilliant sisters McGrath, Orlaith and Siobhán, in the attacking line as on previous occasions the Tribeswomen have been unable to succeed. build on the victories of all of Ireland.
Even more striking than the result was the viscerally exciting nature of a decision maker who reached rare heights of physical intensity and commitment. Three years ago, after a dull and deadly final between Cork and Kilkenny riddled with free goals, even some of the winning players complained about the game’s zero tolerance attitude towards physical challenges.
The Camogie authorities listened and the game got better. And while the new approach was seen to its best advantage in Sunday’s game, it has a lot to do with Kilkenny’s referee Liz Dempsey, whose ability to let the game play out while suppressing if necessary was exemplary.
Referees tend to only stand out when they are wrong, but the exceptional performance of the Thomastown official in a frenzied and fiercely contested final is worth mentioning.