A player can grow old overnight

Jim McGuinness’s analysis of Gaelic football is always worth a read on a Saturday morning in the Irish Times. He is incredibly perceptive and attuned to the modern game, man management and particularly the tactical battles to be fought between teams.

He is looking at the Dublin v Kerry All-Ireland semi-final this weekend in today’s paper.

One observation he made, in the course of his analysis, is that players grow old overnight. There are little or few signs when you are passed your best. It just happens and suddenly your opponent is simply blowing past you, and you cannot keep up.

Another fascination is the pressure on the Dublin old guard — James McCarthy, Michael Fitzsimons, Johnny Cooper. A player can grow old overnight. That day comes to every player. Everything looks and sounds the same until the moment when some guy is blowing by you.”

Jim Mc Guinness, Irish Times, 9th July 2022

I saw this back in the 1970s when a young Kerry team came to Croke Park and blew past the champions, the Dubs. It was as if the entire Dublin team had grown old overnight.

They were blown away by a young, hard running, maniacally driven Kerry team trained to unprecedented levels of fitness by Mick O’Dwyer.

Will that happen this weekend? I don’t think so.

But McGuinness is right. Players do grow old overnight. No warning signs. Suddenly, it just happens.

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