The following extract is from the ‘Introduction’ chapter of the GAA eBook: “Summer Of Discontent – The 2018 All Ireland Football Championship” and explains how and why the UnTitled Newsletter got off the ground…
It’s difficult to define exactly what makes a championship summer. Maybe it’s a referee’s refusal to give a last-minute free, or the tension that envelops a crowd when stewards are sent to their “end of match positions”. It might be those annoying debates pundits have on TV, or sitting through ninety minutes of hurling highlights just to get to the football. In reality it’s a little bit of all these things. And a whole lot more. The average championship weekend is a potpourri of controversy, soundbites, athletic talent and downright entertainment. But in a world of disparate sports news publications, straddling medias new and old, how could it all be neatly encapsulated?
In the early summer of 2018, I decided to try and capture the weekend’s footballing frivolity in a Monday morning newsletter – a few stray thoughts on the main headlines, the outcome of significant games and an early look at the week ahead. With a bit of luck, maybe it would also contain a little of the minutiae that adds flavour to this precious national sport of ours. All available via the Grandfather of social media – email. I just needed some subscribers and a decent name for it. So “UnTitled GAA Newsletter” was born, to be read in the intimate setting of literally tens of inboxes, owned by those people kind enough to send me their email address.
By the time autumn arrived, Dublin had won their fourth successive All Ireland championship at a canter, but Gaelic football had taken a battering throughout the summer. Its slow, methodical, short-sighted tactics raised the ire of many; as did its sudden lack of dynamism and true excitement. Some even complained simply that it wasn’t hurling. To make matters worse, a number of controversies brewed off the pitch as well. We had the beautiful carnage of #NewbridgeOrNowhere, the damp squib that was the ‘Super 8s’, and an alarming fall in attendances. 2018 was a championship to remember but not always for the right reasons.
This book is a collection of those Monday morning emails, that inadvertently captured a “Summer of Discontent”: the application of fresh thoughts to each championship game (with no hint of what was to come) and quick takes on the GAA’s latest faux-pas. Framed by some peripheral musings on the general state of Gaelic football in the “Setting the Agenda” and “Summer of Discontent” chapters, this is in essence a digital documentation of a championship season that didn’t sizzle quite like the 2018 summer sun, but kept us engaged nonetheless.
Thanks to each of you, for reading and subscribing to the newsletter – I am grateful to you all for allowing me some space in your hectic GAA consumption schedule. And a final word of gratitude to those footballers, managers, coaches and fans; the building blocks of our unique Irish sporting landscape, who, despite our keen willingness to grumble and gripe, help make those Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons worth reading about on a Monday morning.
UnTitled GAA Newsletter, March 2019