Thursday, 26 January 2012

Our Enda - team captain or windbag supporter?

During the pathetic attempt at a heave against him as leader of Fine Gael a couple of years ago and to deflect criticism that he lacked charisma, Enda Kenny trotted out again and again the team captain analogy, how he was building a good team of which he was just the captain and thus didn't need to be the star.

Staying with the sporting theme, I now offer a different analogy.

There's a guy who stands on the terraces, a harmless enough kind of a fella really but because he seems to have been around forever he has sort of fallen into the leadership role of his own little gang - let's call him Enda. Down on the pitch his team are in the biggest game of their lives but they're being pulverised by a bigger, stronger and far more powerful opposition. Safe in his position outside the wire, our hero is shouting abuse at the opposing players, but that abuse pales in comparison to the vitriol he is hurling at his own team. "Cowards!" he roars, "A disgrace to the parish!"

Around him, his own coterie of fellow supporters take up the cry. "Traitors!" they scream, "Ye've betrayed the jersey (green, of course), ye've betrayed the club and the people it represents, ye should all hang yere heads in shame!" In loud and very certain terms they continue to harangue and to criticise, telling those on the pitch in no uncertain terms what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.

Half-time comes and lo, the home team supporters decide they've seen enough, storm the dressing-room en masse, order the team to tog off and feck off, and ask our man from the terraces and his buddies if THEY will throw on the jerseys (still green) and take the field for the second half. Which they do.

Oh, it's a very different scenario now, isn't it? Where previously they were free to shout and abuse from the safety of the terraces, now they're shoulder to shoulder with the opposition. Enda hasn't even taken up his position before his courage leaves him. All around him the same thing is happening; none of them had realised how big these guys were, how intimidating, and soon, very soon, they all start making little whimpering sounds, conciliatory sounds, their bravura gone, their voices silenced.

The team was losing when they came on but now Enda and his boys are afraid to even compete for the ball, and it becomes a rout. "They've whispered to us that they'll REALLY hurt us if we stand up to them!" cries Inda to the baffled and disgusted supporters, ignoring their protests as goal after goal is conceded.

Soon, however, he and his new team are getting little pats on the head, little words of encouragement, but it's from the opposition. "Good lads," they say, "Well done; just do as we say, and keep doing it!"

So - strong captain of a shrewdly assembled powerhouse team, or loud gutless windbag from the terraces? Would Munster be where they are if Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and THEIR team gave in to intimidation? Would Leinster if Brian O'Driscoll caved in to blackmail? Would his native Connacht have beaten Harlequins a couple of weeks ago if Enda Kenny, and not Johnny Muldoon, had been captain?

You make up your mind, but I've made up mine. That's why we're marching in Ballyhea and Charleville, that's why we've now got to reclaim those jerseys again and take the field ourselves. Not another cent to the bank bondholders, not another cent in Promissory Notes, not another cent paid by us in any new kind of levy or charge; not another inch conceded, and the ECB forced back.

Diarmuid O`Flynn