Dave Barry – unfair and wrong

by Mark Beegan

I am about to make a startling revelation. There are lazy journalists. There are lazy journalists in the same way that there are lazy builders, doctors and nurses. There are people who go about their work in a shoddy fashion. There are people who take shortcuts for the sake of the easy life every day. On Monday Night Soccer (MNS), Dave Barry, took lazy shoddy shortcut punditry to a new level. Indeed if there was an award for this sub category of punditry then Dave Barry would be odds on to take the award home.

It is worth noting that Dave Barry is not a footballing novice. Barry played football with and managed Cork City making his League of Ireland debut in Cork’s first ever League game. As a player, he won a league title, several cups and played in numerous European ties for the club.

He has scored against European giants such as FC Bayern. He has had success as manager at the top of the domestic game.  Dave Barry has a wealth of footballing experience.

Nor is Mr Barry a novice as a pundit, having being on MNS consistently over the last few years. It is for these reasons that Barry’s attack on UCD is so disappointing. Questioning the ability, form or decisions of a team, players and a manager is normal. Indeed, this is what good pundits do.

What good pundits don’t do is question what a football club bring to the league, question their professionalism and state without foundation that they have it easier than other clubs.

The central tenant of Barry’s argument is that, UCD, because their players are students, do not have the same financial worries as Dundalk players and as a result perform under less pressure. Now, this lazy statement overlooks the pressures of exams, course work and deadlines but it also assumes that the students who represent UCD have no financial worries.

That is a dangerous assumption to make in the Ireland of 2012. Barry should not ridicule the players at UCD who are making a decision to pursue their education, while also taking on the pressures of playing against the best sides in the country week in, week out.

Barry also questioned UCD’s role in because of the small crowds they attract. It is undoubtedly true that their crowds are small but there are people who go, particularly families who go to UCD home games on a regular basis.

Indeed, if you were to apply Dave Barry’s logic a club such as Wigan would be shunned in favour of Leeds United or Sheffield Wednesday, both of whom have lesser players but bigger fan bases.

Dave Barry in the course of his broadside against UCD left out a few vita bits of information. He failed to acknowledge that year in year out, UCD’s players are poached. For example in 2010 UCD lost 10 players to other clubs. The club should be praised for keeping their slick passing game going, considering the high turnover of players.

Dave Barry failed to mention the good work that UCD AFC do in the community. UCD engage with the communities surrounding them by running 5 a side leagues and summer camps. The first team coaching staff and players participate in these camps.  By participating, the players are passing their love and knowledge of the game on to the next generation.

This coaching and engagement with the community is one example of what UCD bring to football in this country. They also bring slick, passing football that is easy on the eye. UCD offer young players the chance to develop as footballers and receive a top class education at the same time. This is a positive thing not only for football but for society in general.

UCD are not a perfect club, no such club exists. They do some things better than most League of Ireland clubs and some things worse than others. UCD’s strong points, however, should be encouraged and highlighted not derided by a pundit who should know better.

3 Responses

  1. John Clarke says:

    Every club in League of Ireland relies on the attendance through the turnstiles to fund a large part of their operation. At the most recent game against UCD in the Showgrounds I counted 12 people in the away end. That means that the UCD squad was larger than their support. Looking at this from the point of view of professional club like Sligo Rovers who are paying a large staff of players, management and administrators it is hard to fathom what contribution that UCD make to the league. I have attended UCD home games where the away support has equalled or surpassed that of the home side. Clearly no side operating as a professional club could survive with that sort of support.

    I am aware of the work the Sligo Rovers do in the community and have seen the consequence of that work in the support levels. Rather than praising UCD for their work perhaps you should question what they are doing wrong in that they cannot reap a dividend in attendance from the same work.

    Dave Barrys comments regarding the players and their pressures has whether you wish to admit it or not a certain validity. The pressure on a worker in any industry where your livelyhood is under threat has got to be enormous as opposed to someone who has no financial dependance on it.

    I don’t think that anyone doubts that UCD have the playing ability to acquit themselves in the League of Ireland as they have done over many years. The real nub of the matter is what they contribute to the overall viability of the league and in my opinion that is far less than they take out of it.

  2. Gullyborg says:

    Didn’t Dave Barry win a Pulitzer prize?

  3. Fabrice says:

    @John

    Your point is valid but would only work if every club in the league is and was managed correctly. Unfortunately as we’ve seen in the past number of years clubs have been reckless with their money and their treatment of players so who’s to say that UCD don’t deserve their place in the league despite their lack of support?

    They might not bring big numbers of support to games but you can always count that they’ll be able to fulfill a fixture in a season, unlike some other clubs.

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