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Delaying tactics out of line and rules must be enforced

Management in any sport has become an odd fascination.

By Declan Bogue

Managers have become the 'front of house' for their team, with their methods and reactions afforded ridiculous levels of study. When Harvard Professor Anita Elberse decided to do a case study on Sir Alex Ferguson for example, we would have loved to have heard his thoughts on the Harvard-standard tool of management; 'The Compliment Sandwich.'

He might have struggled to find two compliments to bookend the bountiful criticisms of say, Ralph Milne or Eric Djemba-Djemba.

The global transformation of how the media treat managers - at least in Europe anyway - can possibly be traced back to the early '80s, when Match of the Day first started showing clips of the 'gaffers'.

Nowadays, there isn't a major or minor incident in a game that passes without a super slo-mo replay of the manager's reaction; the perfect job for those seduced by the heady effects of narcissism.

Michael Calvin's book 'Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager' was depressing reading for those managers addicted to the game, but utterly indisposable.

On a 'Tonight with Trevor McDonald' programme screened in 2002, they attached then-Bolton manager Sam Allardyce to a heart-rate monitor during a match. The average resting heart rate is 60-65 beats per minute (bpm).

At kick-off, Allardyce's rate was 87 bpm. At one fraught moment of the game, it climbed to 190 bpm - the level of an Olympic Sprinter at the climax of the 100 metres.

At the time, Dr Dorian Dougmore, director of the Wellness Institute said: "If you raise your heart rate during exercise it is almost entirely beneficial.

"But to do it this way involves a different chemistry. It constricts the arteries, irritates the heart, puts enormous pressure on the mechanics. When you are exercising, the body produces all sorts of protective mechanisms, which are absent when the increase is adrenalin-driven."

GAA managers are not immune to this kind of strain. All things considered, they might even experience more of it than with other sports, given how many more variables there are in their game.

For a start, 30 players are more to manage than 22. While refereeing decisions will always be a staple of discussion in the aftermath, the arbitrary nature of refereeing judgements in Gaelic games leads to an excruciating level of frustration among fans, players and managers.

Little wonder then that we see the euphemistically-kind term of 'schmozzles' breaking out towards the end of games with managers involved.

Last weekend, Castlebar Mitchells took incredible liberties with the amount of management figures they had on the sideline. At one point towards the end, Aaron Kernan of Crossmaglen was attempting to take a sideline kick and a selector actually prevented him. This sort of manager involvement is becoming widespread.

In January, the Derry manager Damian Barton ran onto the pitch during a McKenna Cup final to get involved with Tyrone players.

In Derry club football, Barton liked to remain close to the action, sometimes finding himself right beside the ball in play during a game.

While that sort of thing might be a nuisance to club referees, at county level the GAA take a very dim view of it. Some disciplinary action is sure to follow from the Ulster Council.

The great pity is that teams are now orchestrating a level of 'game-management' at the close of games, designed to frustrate opponents.

Referees are willing to throw out black cards in the dying minutes, but the trade-off for the offending player is almost a minute of injury-time wasted while the referee takes his name, orders him off and he trudges slowly off the field before the game can resume. Then there will be another stoppage as his replacement comes onto the field. This is exactly how it happened with Castlebar player Neil Douglas' black card in injury time last Saturday.

When Congress arrives in Carlow at the end of the month, there will be a number of playing rules that could be introduced. The third coming of the Aussie Rules-style 'mark' is fancied to get the required two-thirds majority to pass.

Crossmaglen-Castlebar was a classic that deserved a better finish. Because of the GAA's refusal and/or inability to enforce their own regulations on sideline personnel, along with not dealing with time-wasting, it didn't get that.

In future, all tight games are destined to finish like this until they address it.

Belfast Telegraph


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