The "Expert" and the Dual Player


The 'Expert' and the dual player

(by Morgan Lalor)

Once upon a time, indeed not so long ago, it was common for us mere mortals to enjoy the “dual player”.  He was the guy who graced our hurling and football fields with his mastery of both of our games.  Quite often he was the hero, we could be quietly proud of him and we all knew that he had that little bit extra – he was a bit of a treasure.

Not so anymore, I’m afraid.

So what the hell has been happening?

Well, quite simply, what has happened is that for a number of years now, the player with that “bit extra” – yes, the talent to engage successfully in both of our games has been discouraged, or should I be accurate and say that he has been banned from playing one of our games.  You think I am talking about County Teams here!  Well, I’m not.  Yes, the problem is there too, but this rot is far more rooted, so much so that the damage is long done for so many, before they are ever eligible for such profiled consideration.

By whom and for what?  You may wonder.

Well, if the FAI of the IRFU or the GUI or whatever were to attempt to effect a “ban” on GAA players of the sort now firmly in place in hundreds of GAA units throughout the land, would not all hell break loose?

Imagine the indignation, the outrage, the perceived slight on our national games etc. etc. that would be so eloquently articulated by our Association’s “leaders”.  You know I could even envisage Bertie getting involved.

What hypocrisy this would all be though.  You see, for far too long now the GAA at all levels has turned a blind eye, tolerated and lately have even taken to embracing the idea that the day of the “dual” player is rapidly coming to an end or indeed has arrived.  Now let me say at this point that this “ban” on the dual player was generated and introduced by……..well lets call him the “expert” who simply made it quite clear that if you wanted to play for “his” team then you would not have any other interferences – if you get my drift!  “You cannot serve two masters!”  For me now, therein lies the rub!!  So we have the “experts” across the country banning 12 year olds as well as grown men from playing our games.  They can ordain the career path for all and sundry.  But sure, why wouldn’t they?  Has anybody challenged them in GAA Land?  Not at all – you see it might upset the expert!  So it is easier to take the soft option. 

Unfortunately for Hurling it has suffered much much more than Football in the dual player “ban”.  Is there another soft option here?Doesn’t Hurling take too much effort, time and money?

So while the game struggles in these circumstances, those entrusted with protecting, developing and promoting our games sit silently, idly by.  Any real research or analysis on this nonsense?  I think not.  Sure it could be awkward!  For with unprecedented player fitness levels and similarly unprecedented financial resources players are being told how it is only one game for them or…..!  Yet we know of managers who prove all this wrong, they facilitate, accommodate, organise – yes they manage the situation for the players, the dual player is included – not excluded.

So where is the GAA hierarchy on this?  Any opinion from the HDC?  Ah well!

Meanwhile Hurling and Hurling people flounder in the most densely populated areas of our country – Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow etc. where the “expert’s” opinion prevails, whilst, once strong Hurling heartlands are denuded by the migrancy that generated the same population densities.

Hurling is one of our national treasures, as invaluable and more “of the people” than anything exhibited and safeguarded in our national museums, galleries and archives.  It is a living treasure, an unfolding tapestry of life – of ambition, flair and talent, of character, raw courage and invention, of trial and tribulation.  It is a brilliant and sublime expression of the heartbeat and the soul that cannot be touched.  Yet there is no preservation order!

The future of our unique game is not just the remit of hurling people.  It is the responsibility of all GAA people and of our nation – that includes Bertie and his Minister for Sport.  But let’s face it the damage being done to Hurling from within the GAA itself is inexcusable and an affront!

You see, I think that the “expert” is the “dual player” we could actually do without!