Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Saipan and Soccer In The News

It might not be exactly the way we want it, but here's another reference to Saipan through the Red Mist story that's become somewhat of a legend in Ireland.

This is from The Mayo News, an Irish newspaper that touts itseld as "Eurpoe's best designed paper." How about that? Now that's something to be proud of.

Well, Mayo is not only the name of the paper, it's also the name of a county. I wonder if it's Europe's best designed county, as well. Anyway here it is...Oh, and the link is in the title.

Mayo’s very own Saipan?

Ciaran McDonald’s future divided fans’ opinion online

By Daniel Carey

THERE’S a picture on which was taken at Dublin Airport in March 2005. It shows a raft of water bottles, trays and full-to-the-brim O’Neills bags being checked in by the Dublin kit manager, who’s about to board a flight to Kerry for a league match in the Kingdom. The overhead shot appears under the headline “Why the GAA will never have a ‘Saipan’ incident”.

Until now that is.

Training gear may not be at issue, and the country at large may be indifferent. But six years after the soccer dispute which split the country down the middle, a war of words between a manager and a footballer is again dominating sporting conversation in Mayo.

Some people are firmly behind John O’Mahony, others are entirely supportive of Ciaran McDonald, while many feel there is fault on both sides. And a large number of people seem utterly bewildered, unable to make sense of the events of the last few days.

Ever since the championship panel appeared in The Irish Times last Friday week, Ciaran McDonald was the major topic of discussion wherever Mayo GAA people gathered. In public houses, at matches and on internet discussion boards, the question was the same: ‘What’s the story with McDonald?’

‘RedandGreenSniper’ got the online ball rolling on, noting that McDonald’s omission appeared to signal the end of his inter-county career. “Thanks for the memories Ciaran,” the contributor wrote. “You will always hold a place in the hearts of Mayo fans and, I’m sure, fans of football all over Ireland.”

As of yesterday (Monday) afternoon, the thread which this post sparked had prompted over 200 replies and been viewed over 4,000 times. Variations on the same debate were also ongoing on the Hogan Stand, Mayo Fans and An Fear Rua websites.

As speculation mounted about why McDonald wasn’t involved and whether he would return, ‘IolarCoisCuain’ urged caution, noting: “It’s a long road yet, and there’s no need for hullaballoo.”

But a hullaballoo there most certainly was last Wednesday morning when the Irish Independent carried a rare interview with Ciaran McDonald. The Crossmolina clubman told Martin Breheny that it was not his choice that he was not involved with Mayo and that he was unhappy with John O’Mahony’s handling of the matter.

The first many people knew of the interview was when they turned on Midwest Radio. Having opened his morning programme with a summary of McDonald’s criticisms, presenter Tommy Marren interviewed John O’Mahony, who said there was no reason why McDonald couldn’t play for Mayo again.

As phones hummed and text messages flew back and forth, online reaction was swift. ‘Tubberman’ suggested that neither manager nor player had ‘handled the situation particularly well’ and concluded: “JOM is really under the microscope now and has to deliver this year”.

‘Stephenite’ was of the opinion that ‘if a player wants to play the onus should be on him to stay in contact with the manager and let him know what his situation is’, but ‘the Deel Rover’ disagreed, saying: “The onus is on the management to let the players know whether you … are part of their plans or not”.

Referring to the situation as ‘a serious shambles’, a poster called ‘Barney’ said the McDonald interview had ‘really blown the cat amongst the pigeons’. Criticising contact by text, he added: “For me the problem begins and ends with this daft notion of a public announcement of a championship panel”. ‘Maradona’ (presumably not the Argentinian Maradona) said that he was probably McDonald’s ‘biggest fan’, but that the ‘will he won’t he’ questions which had dogged Mayo teams in recent years went ‘against collective team building’. The ‘ideal scenario’, he concluded, would be for both men to ‘get together and sort out the issues’.

Perhaps the most unlikely scenario outlined on all the discussion boards was the ‘McDonald for President’ call by ‘midLouth’. Mind you, stranger things have happened. After all, Saipan spawned a musical …

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