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Eight weeks for this? It’s an absolute disgrace

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Football fans across the country were rightly abhorred by the incident in last Sunday’s Kerry SFC semi-final which left East Kerry youngster Dara Moynihan laid out on the floor.

Video footage clearly shows Dingle selector Colm Geaney rushing onto the field to punch Moynihan in the face. Observers the length and breadth of the country called for a lengthy ban (if not a lifetime ban) but, incredibly, the county board have handed out an eight-week suspension.

It’s an absolute disgrace.

What kind of message are the GAA sending out here? In March, a Clare footballer squirted water in the general direction of an umpire. He was banned for three months. I know a lad who was incorrectly told by his Australian club that his suspension from a 7-a-side tournament didn’t carry over to their league competition. He played in the league and got a six-month worldwide ban. And a mentor entering the field of play to physically assault a player gets eight weeks?

Geaney will miss the county final on Sunday, which Dingle are expected to lose, and he’ll be back on the line for the start of next season.

There has been a lot of player-on-player violence recently but, as public reaction to this particular incident has shown, there is something particularly egregious about someone entering the field to attack a player.

On-pitch fighting isn’t something that I’d condone but you have to give some leeway to the guys who are actually out there. It’s a physical game and everyone is desperate to win. Things get heated - it’s simply bound to boil over every now and then. You accept that as a player and unless it’s an especially aggressive or sneaky assault, guys rarely even hold a grudge. It’s water under the bridge.

But a non-player, who has no business whatsoever on the field of play, simply cannot do what Geaney did on Sunday. It’s assault, in my opinion, and should be treated as such. The old “If you did it on the street…” argument doesn’t always hold up but in this instance I think it does. If someone did the same thing outside the chipper the night before he’d end up in court. If a supporter ran onto the field and did it he’d be in serious trouble. Why should a selector get away with a slap on the wrist?

As far as I’m concerned, the pitch should be for players and players alone. You see managers and selectors roaming the sidelines and encroaching 5-10 yards onto the field of play, sometimes more. As a player I find it so annoying. Mentors run across the width of the field to have a quick chat with a player, often while the ball is in play. I’m convinced there’s no need for it half the time.

To be honest, I think some mentors get a bit of a buzz out of it. They want to feel like they’re part of the action and they want people up in the terrace to see how integral they are to the operation. In reality, the instructions you get from the sideline are rarely insightful. The gist is generally, “Don’t do that bad thing you just did. Do something good instead.”

Got it. Sound.

If managers really need to pass on information to their players, maybe a runner system like the one in the AFL would be a… runner? Allow two designated members of the backroom team to enter the field at an appropriate juncture, speak to players and leave in a timely fashion. If they fail to adhere to the rules, say for instance they address or approach an opposition player, they get sent off and the team forfeits their right to deploy a runner for the rest of the game.

And the runners could double as maoir uisce as well. Some clubs are giving bottles to any Joe Soap on the basis that “He’s just a water boy” but, when it comes down to it, you’re basically giving unqualified people free reign to enter the field whenever they deem fit.

I think technical areas like the ones in soccer would be a good idea too. Some GAA managers would have a hard time adapting but so be it. At the end of the day, player safety has to be paramount and as last Sunday’s incident shows, some non-players actually need to be penned in.

Flash point

When things do get tetchy, managers/selectors/maoir uisce entering the field of play can be more than annoying; it can be downright infuriating.

Players square up all the time but 99 times of out of 100, no punches are thrown. Even when a punch is thrown, the flare-up almost always resolves itself relatively quickly. The intervention of a mentor, or a maor uisce, or even a sub – even if his intentions are good – invariably has an aggravating effect rather than a calming one. If you’re playing your immediate reaction is, “Get off the f***ing pitch”.

Look, I wasn’t down there on the line the last day. The culprit may feel as though he can somehow justify what happened. Maybe words were exchanged.

But, funnily enough, with players from both sides piling into the melee, Dara actually made the decision not to take part. He may have been worried about getting sent off and so did the smart thing by keeping his distance. And he still ended up getting attacked.

The GAA have to get serious with their punishments when incidents like this happen. The way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. Or worse.

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Lissi’s love of nature nets prize

After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition. Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature. Each Biosphere participating awarded […]

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After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition.

Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature.

Each Biosphere participating awarded local prizes with the top entry from each being submitted to the international competition between the three.

This week the two judges for the international element Author Dara McAnulty and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, have unanimously chosen ‘The Otter’ by Lissi Nickelsen (Kerry) as winner of the inter-Biosphere Young Nature Blogger 2021.

“I absolutely love the observational detail in this piece,” Dara McAnulty, author of ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ and the youngest ever winner of The Wainright Prize for nature writing said:

“You can really feel that breathless excitement and tension of seeing an otter. The drawing shows how multimedia can be used to great effect in a blog.”

Professor Martin Price added that it “is a beautifully written blog about a very special encounter”.

“I really get the feeling of what Lissi observed so carefully, and her joy about spending time with an otter! And the drawing is wonderful too!”

Lissi will receive a young naturalist writing set from Dara McNulty, a framed otter picture from Wildlife photographer Vincent Hyland, Wild Derrynane, and a family kayak trip in the Kerry Biosphere.

The winning entry can be read on the Kerry Biosphere website www.kerrybiosphere.ie/news.

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The only certainty is uncertainty

By Michael O’Connor    “History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the […]

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By Michael O’Connor   

“History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee

Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq down 2.2% and 3.5%, respectively.

This 147th twist in the pandemic tale got me thinking about how much we think we know when really, we know nothing at all.

At the start of the year nobody would have predicted that 2020 would have played out the way it did. Very few would have predicted that 2021, with promising vaccines and a return to normality would have represented so little change, but here we are.

Everyone loves to pretend like they fully understand what this all means and what will happen next. I get it; who doesn’t love the warm cozy allure of certainty. We all want to exist in a world where we know what lies around the corner.

History is a perpetual stream of mistaken opinions and unpredictable outcomes, but the predictions won’t stop. People will cast their views with deluded certainty about what to expect next by extrapolating the current conditions out into the future, but the current conditions aren’t a constant, and the game is always changing.

Unfortunately, the reality is, nobody knows what’s next, and the sooner you can discard any naive sense of conviction, the easier it will be in both life and investing. While this statement may seem morbid on the surface, loosening our grip on our need for certainty can be liberating.

Remember, while it is important to have expectations and predictions, predictions are not fact, and you will be wrong. Not always, but you will be wrong, so try not to be overly tethered to your current version of the truth.

Lean into the uncertainty

Accepting that nothing is certain can often be cast as an impotent statement in a world obsessed with knowing all the answers.

In an industry where uncertainty is the ultimate enemy, telling investors to submit to it is often met with disdain, but accepting the inevitability of uncertainty is so important if you want to avoid going stir crazy as you try and hold for the long term.

Of course, discarding uncertainty is easier said than done. Worrying about factors beyond our control is an inherent part of the human condition. However, simply being aware that the game is not predictable and nobody truly knows the final outcome may help you reduce your craving for certainty.

My advice

Stop reaching for perfection in a world of constant uncertainty. Stop obsessing about making the right decision one hundred percent of the time. Even the best investors in history have had their fair share of howlers. Ultimately you just need to be right more often than you are wrong.

The solution

Create an investment portfolio centred around what you believe to be the most probable outcome based on available information and incorporate enough diversification to function as a buffer.

In a world where anything is possible, all you can do is focus on what is most probable, allow for a margin of error to support you when your assumed outcomes don’t play out and simply let go of the rest.

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