Des Cahill is a superb anchor of The Sunday Game. He is extremely knowledgeable and is always balanced.
Of course, he has to ask searching questions but everything is done in a respectful and professional manner. Des gets edgy when a panellist occasionally throws a spanner in the works. One immediately knows when his seat is becoming uncomfortable.
Joe Brolly, although only sporadically on The Sunday Game, is one panellist who can bring tension to the programme with his comments. On a recent Saturday afternoon radio programme Des and Joe were at loggerheads over an incident in the Donegal versus Armagh All-Ireland quarter-final.
Joe does not spare the dramatics. I am sure there are many who love these tit-for-tat exchanges. Perhaps it is all done in the interest of increased ratings.
Des Cahill looked decidedly uncomfortable when Donal Óg Cusack unloaded his scud missile on the Cork County Board when analysing the poor display from his native county against Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final. Cusack is an excellent media operator. He is articulate and presents his arguments well.
The problem with his extraordinary outburst on The Sunday Game was that his explosive comments came on a day when Cork gave one of its poorest displays in years in Croke Park. How could one of their own, who was involved with the squad in recent years, be so damning when everyone associated with the team was hurting and struggling to find reasons for such a hugely disappointing performance?
Could he not have waited for another occasion? The former Cork custodian took umbrage left, right and centre in his condemnation as to why Cork found itself in its current plight.
Des Cahill had a programme format to observe. There would have been little scope to challenge Cusack’s views. It is also difficult to proffer an alternative opinion if research has not been undertaken.
If Cahill looked edgy, so too did the other panellists Brendan Cummins and Seamus Hickey. They wisely concentrated on that afternoon’s game and offered superb analysis.
There are people in Cork who agree with the Cloyne player. Many more will see his outburst as a continuation of an agenda against the Cork County Board that started years ago.
Late last week Cusack went to some lengths in a newspaper article to outline how Cork has fallen significantly behind other Munster counties (ignoring Kerry) in terms of national and provincial hurling honours at all levels. I am sure these facts are well known to GAA officers in Cork. They do not make for pleasant reading, but right now all the other Munster counties are making significantly better strides at under-age level.
As for the extent of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh development, it poses many challenges for Cork. Given the number and size of stadia in Munster there is an argument that the redevelopment should be at lower capacity than planned.
The Cork Board had to acquire the local Showgrounds adjacent to Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Such is the dilapidated condition of the stadium that the redevelopment project was always going to be of a significant scale and cost.
Too much can be made of needing a Centre of Excellence. For me the demise of Cork second level schools has been the singular reason why under-age success has dried up.
The argument for additional coaches is understandable. So too is the argument that clubs must up their game when it comes to coaching. Kilkenny probably has one of the lowest County Board sponsored coach to club ratios in the country. Yet the county continues to deliver competitive under-age sides.
I spoke to people from Cork who are closely associated with the team. They are still at a loss to explain the poor display against Tipp. The best teams collapse occasionally. Try as they might it can be impossible to rectify the problem on the day. I have no fears for Cork hurling. There are good people in the county who will ensure better days return.