Belfast Telegraph

Asking players to shake on it is just window-dressing that we don't need

By Declan Bogue

Handshakes They say you can tell a lot about a man by his handshake.

That's nonsense, of course. There are those in positions of great importance that shake so many hands that they proffer their hand but aren't going to squeeze the life out of it. I know one man in particular like that, and yes, he is an honourable gentleman, and no, I will not tell you his name.

In this game, sometimes reporters will shake hands with team managers prior to the post-match interview. It can convey sympathy or warmest congratulations. For those having underwent 70-plus minutes of an Ulster Championship match, words can seem inadequate, and so you stick out your hand.

Word to the wise; any young budding reporter out there looking to get into 'the game' – watch out for Terry Hyland's handshake. The Cavan manager will look you in the eye and wrap your Proximal phalanges in a vice that he likes to call his hand, before steadily increasing pressure.

Your job is to stand there and look manly, unfazed by the pain, trying not to faint.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

On Sunday, the GAA staged the very first pre-match handshake, when the hurlers of Cork and Dublin formed a long line and went down it, shaking each player, the referee, and officials by the hand.

It was depressing that we have succumbed to such trivial acts of window-dressing. To watch this charade being played out was to despair of the direction the matchday presentation committee is taking us in.

We know where this is taking us. It's so obvious, we couldn't fail to know.

We are now a matter of weeks away from the first 'handshake snub' headline. All it might take is for one player walking down the line of opposition players to miss out on one and away we go.

Newspapers will be degraded so much that post-match coverage will centre on 'the shake'. Pre-match build up will centre on whether two players with a history will shake hands. You might want to get sick now, get it over and done with.

Good job for the GAA that this idea didn't come along a week earlier. Despite all the right things being said afterwards, and all the photo opportunities being availed of, we know there is no love lost between Mayo and Donegal. If there was, then a lot of the comments that made their way into print wouldn't have been said in the first place.

The very idea of a mass handshake before a game came as a Sky TV innovation, as part of their overwrought presentation of each and every single game.

Of course a fixture between Everton and Southampton, with neither side in the running for anything other than mid-table mediocrity, is important. Sure aren't the players shaking hands?

We don't need this cheap stunt. Nothing wrong with what we have, a quick handshake with your marker before coming together like two stags rutting in the glen. Now that's manly. Almost as manly as Terry Hyland's handshake.

Belfast Telegraph


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