16 March 2009

Jon Stewart v Jim Cramer

Television gold from Comedy Central.

Yesterday's Observer had this to say:


America cheers as satirist delivers knockout blow to TV finance gurus

For the past 10 days the US has been gripped. Even President Obama tuned in as the country's foremost TV comic, Jon Stewart, unleashed an extraordinary broadside against TV's top financial commentators for their part in the unfolding economic crisis.

First came the imperial marching music and a fiery explosion. "You've watched snippets of them for days, or meant to after your friends sent you the link," a voice boomed with mock gravity. "Tonight, the week-long feud of the century comes to a head."

It was a comically absurd drumroll for what, on the surface, was merely a squabble between TV presenters. In one corner, Jim Cramer, the closest thing to a celebrity in American financial journalism. In the opposite corner, Jon Stewart, the satirist and host of the fake news programme The Daily Show on Comedy Central. But unlike many a big fight, this one more than surpassed the hype. Nothing less than financial reporting itself was put on trial – and found severely wanting.

Cramer, who dispenses raucous advice to investors on the Mad Money show on the business channel CNBC, was eviscerated by a serious and genuinely angry Stewart. Meek and contrite, Cramer was pummelled like a rope-a-dope over his profession's failure to be an effective watchdog of Wall Street. There was no cornerman to throw in the towel.

The interview was one of those classic television moments that crystallised the public mood in the credit crisis. Stewart articulated the anger and bewilderment of millions of Americans who now feel ripped off and afraid. He framed the question everyone wanted asked: how were the financial masters of the universe allowed to pursue their ruinous behaviour unchallenged for so long?


Read the rest of the artice here

And see it for yourself below.

09 February 2009

“A tear welled in my eyes”

Also from the UCC Express:

Joseph Sexton caught up with former Hurler of the Year Seán Óg Ó hAilpín after the hurling supporters march last Saturday. Humbled by the depth of the public support, this is what he had to say.

12 days ago, you and your fellow players made an appeal to the Cork public for support. Do you feel the players' call for support has been answered today?

"You know what? We more than got it today. It was very humbling. It wasn’t easy at the time asking for it, because it’s hard to quantify a figure for how many would turn out, but this superseded our expectations. There was a tear nearly came out of my eye, because it’s a Saturday in February, people have other things to be doing and other worries with the economy, sport and hurling won’t be on top of the agenda. These people, all these men, women and children came out today to show their support and voice their frustration. We share their frustration. These people want to see the Cork team back, and want to see the best Cork team possible that will bring pride and honour to the jersey. If the support today is anything to go by, then it’s very encouraging."

How important was it for you to receive the public support of the footballers the other night?

"I think it was huge, because up until now people didn’t know what the footballers were going to do. They were staying silent. But you know, I know most of the footballers well and nobody put them under pressure in any way. This time last year, they had their own problems and the hurlers supported them, and I know they’ve never forgotten that. If it’s one problem, maybe you can bury your head in the sand, but it isn’t and now the footballers are saying they’ll down tools now if things aren’t sorted. I think the county board executive have to take a look at themselves, and then come back with actions to resolve the situation before things get any worse."

We’ve heard a lot of speculation in the press that the panel are not united, that the younger players have been intimidated, and suggestions that you should all shut up, get back on the field, and say no more. What do you have to say to people who are saying this?

"I think that was the beauty of the press conference, because there were loads of rumours floating about and we had the chance to put them to bed once and for all. It was a united 30 players on show that night, there was no fellas putting any other fellas under pressure, and it’s simple; the reason why these 30 players are taking this stance and holding press conferences is because there is a problem there. If there was no problem, then there’d be none of this. The problem, as we see it, doesn’t lie within ourselves, it lies within the county board executive. We’ve answered as many questions as we can from our side... The questions have been put to them and they need to answer, not just to the players, but the the Cork public. There are supporters out there who, week-in, week-out, pay money out of their own pockets to attend the matches, and that’s money that goes back to the county board. Hard, well-earned money. They have a responsibility to tell the Cork public what went on with the appointment of Gerald McCarthy, because that’s the source of the problem. They didn’t, in my opinion, appoint him for the right reasons, for the interests of Cork hurling, or those of the people who turned out here today."

How is morale in the camp? Do you think this will be a big boost, seeing this degree of support?

"Before today, I was a bit apprehensive, d’ya know. Would there be a big crowd, because you know, if there was no big turnout, well... it would have looked a small bit embarrassing for us. But we got more than we could have ever dreamed of, and these people... they love their sport, they love their hurlers, and they want the best hurlers back. For a player, looking at that up on the stage, it’s very encouraging. It shows that, despite all that’s been said, we’re still loved, and people appreciate what we’re doing. We have no problem putting in a massive sacrifice, putting in 14 sessions a week, and driving here and there; we have no problem with that, provided we get the support back. We got that here today from the supporters, and we need that to be shown by the County Board executive too. Morale is very good amongst the players. The more the County Board drags its feet, the more strongly the players feel what we are doing is right. There’s a unity there, which was present for all to see at the press conference. If you have three fellas and you try and break them, it’s one thing; but when you have 30 guys, it’s going to be hard, so look... we’re still as united as ever."

(Photography, again, courtesy of Mark Jacob)

Rebels march in support of Hurlers

This account of the hurler's march was put together for the UCC express:

12,000 fans braved the bitterly cold weather as they took to the streets of Cork in support of the 2008 Cork hurling panel. The turnout exceeded all expectations, with the players and organisers keen to show their gratitude to the public. Present on stage were several members of the football and hurling panels, the latter having publicly announced on Thursday their intention to strike in solidarity at the end of the league campaign if matters are not resolved satisfactorily.

Rumours had abounded as to the identity of the speakers beforehand. Initially it had been expected that the players would stay away, so as to avoid giving the impression of instigating the march. As it transpired, many key members turned up to thank the public, and they were joined by an old friend; former Cork hurling and football great, Brian Corcoran.

The march began in Emmet Place at 3pm, where a sizeable crowd had already assembled an hour previous. The march proceeded onto Academy Street, left to the top of Patrick Street, and back down the same street before terminating in Grand Parade. Such was the size of the turnout that at 3:45pm- with a large crowd already thronging the area in front of the city library- that there were still people leaving Emmet Place at the back of the march.

“Summer days in Thurles, not hammerings to Dublin” read one placard. Others, distributed by the organisers read “Support Cork’s Hurlers”. Some supporters had made banners urging Frank Murphy, secretary of the CCB, and Gerald McCarthy to resign, but for the most part the messages were positive; full support for last year’s panel.

Players- including hurlers John Gardiner, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Donal Óg Cusack, Niall McCarthy, Cathal Naughton, Jerry O'Connor, and Patrick Cronin, and footballers Graham Canty, Noel O’Leary, Daniel Goulding, Anthony Lynch, John Hayes, and Nicholas Murphy, amongst others- took the stage shortly after 4pm to rapturous applause from the crowd.

First to speak was Brian Corcoran. “I take no pleasure in this black period, but I have to defend the honour of these players who I’ve been privileged to play with”, he said. “They’ve been criticised in some quarters, unjustly in my opinion. These guys have sacrificed so much, sweat blood and tears for the cause. I take enormous pride when I see this crowd assembled here today to support these men who are willing to stand up for what they believe.”

“They have been asked to put up and shut up with conditions primed for failure. These guys know what it takes to win; in the four years that Donal O’Grady and John Allen were in charge, they reached eight finals, winning 5. During that period, there was complete harmony in the camp.”

“Some people have labelled these players as difficult, but why was there no trouble then? Four years is a very long time. I was involved for three of those, and the atmosphere was one of total and utter trust. In the last two years, that trust and belief has been eroded.”

“I would like to ask the County Board why, when John Allen stepped down, did they seek to disrupt the set-up? Why did they appoint a manager who didn’t want the job, ignoring others who did? Why, after two years of failure, was there no motivation to change something which didn’t work? These players have the best interests of Cork hurling at heart. Can the County Board say the same?”

“These guys inspired me to come back to hurling. They are my heroes, they are role models. They are not afraid to stand up for what they believe. Cork hurling is lagging behind. The board are killing the senior team. It’s time for the board to prove that they care about hurling. We must support these men. We must ask the board to allow us to believe again”.

The crowd applauded Corcoran’s speech, and a shorter speech read out 2008 captain John Gardiner. Gardiner thanked the fans for their support over the years and during the current crisis. With the players gone, the crowd dwindled, but one remained there more than an hour after events had come to a close; Seán Óg Ó h’Ailpin, who signed shirts, crutches, ugg boots and photos with typically selfless good-humour.

(Photography courtesy of the UCC Express' Mark Jacob)

The slow death of Cork Hurling

This is an editorial put together for the UCC Express.

Looking from the outside in, it’s not too hard to see why the present Cork hurling dispute has left the rest of country in a state of flummoxed exasperation following claim, counter-claim, and no little spin. Following on from 2002 and last winter, this is the third major dispute between the players and the Cork County Board executive this decade. Unfortunately, it would appear that the CCB executive (from here on referred to as the CCB) are a little slow of learning and the result is that Justin McCarthy’s words- 'No matter how many Munster or All-Ireland Titles are won, Frank Murphy will never forgive these Players''- uttered at the conclusion of the 2002 dispute ring true. In 2002 the players walked for a variety of gripes, the most infamous example of which came in the 2001 Munster championship tie against Limerick where the players were forced to urinate on towels in the gymasium at half-time because the CCB, for reasons best known to themselves, had commandeered the home changing rooms. In 2007, the issue was the right of managers to pick their own selectors. This year, the issue is what they perceive to be the violation of the spirit of Mulvey agreement, the fragile peace brokered last season.

The timeline for the current dispute runs something like this: at the end of last season’s All-Ireland campaign, Gerald McCarthy’s tenure as manager was up after a series of underwhelming results. Cork had bowed out at the quarter final stage of the All-Ireland champiosnhip in 2007, and last season lost their 80 year unbeaten home record against Tipperary. After a thrilling run through the qualifiers, they came unstuck against Kilkenny in the semi-final. That, most observers agreed, would be that. A new manager would be sought come Autumn.

Once the players representatives sat at the table to play their role in the selection process, it was clear that CCB Executive was of no mind to abide by the spirit of the agreement. The only name put forward for consideration was that of the incumbent. The player representatives voiced their objections, and outnumbered 5-2, stormed out.

It has been speculated that the CCB executive then proceeded to mislead the club delegates prior to their ratification of McCarthy’s appointment, telling the delegates that the players had agreed with the appointment. What we do know for a fact is that the delegates, just as they did last year with the appointment (and subsequent sacking) of Teddy Holland, voted to carry the CCB’s proposal.

All hell broke loose then as the 2008 panel announced their retirement in disgust at the CCB’s manoeuvrings. They had been unhappy with McCarthy’s coaching methods throughout his tenure, and felt that another two years of substandard preparation was more than they could bear. Soon we had a flow of well-crafted press releases from McCarthy, where he attacked the character of certain members of the panel, and claimed that the older heads were bullying the younger players into going along with this latest protest. Most scandalous of all was the leaking of a confidential document- the result of a facilitator's attempt to rebuild morale in the squad after last year’s Tipperary defeat- to the local press. McCarthy has refused to admit culpability on this count; the players maintain that the only other copy of this document lies with the facilitator himself.

Well-know radio host Neil Prendeville questioned the CCB secretary Frank Murphy’s competence in his column in the Cork independent, and was threatened with legal action by the secretary. In the same paper, the CCB’s Bob Honohan issued a vicious ad hominem against former Wexford manager Liam Griffin for the latter’s articles on the issue.

Back on the management side of things, McCarthy struggled to build a new backroom team, with a range of figures turning down the chance to become involved with the set-up. This process reached its nadir as the year drew to a close. Having announced former Irish rugby fitness coach Mike McGurn’s imminent appointment, the Cork boss was forced into an embarrassing climb-down as it emerged that McGurn had no intention of leaving his post with the Ospreys.

Another headache was the process of selecting a team to take the field. Again, scores of players refused to answer the call. As it stands, the current Cork ‘developmental’ panel comprises something close to a fifth or sixth string selection. The new panel were soundly beating in their first outing against an under-strength WIT in January, going down by 0-14 to 0-9. A subsequent outing against a second-string Waterford team gave little further comfort.

McCarthy then sent letters individually to the members of the 2008 panel requesting that they return; but before they reached their recipients the story had been plastered all over the press. The players declined the overture which the Sunday Times' Denis Walsh described as an exercise in 'pure optics'. McCarthy subsequently slammed the door on the 2008 players in an interview broadcast on RTE’s Six One news.

Five days later, the players called a press conference to give their side of the story. Several of the younger panel members made clear their disgust at repeated statements from McCarthy and sources close to the CCB to the effect that they had been dragged into the dispute against their will. ‘It’s a disgrace for them to suggest that”, said Cathal Naughton.

The following day a text poll on Cork's 96FM confirmed stout support for the players' stance amongst the Cork public. The broadcaster’s systems were almost overwhelmed by the flood of responses, with 1000 text messages landing within four minutes. At the close of the poll, with more than 3000 votes cast, the results showed over 90% in support of the players. The same day, well-know Cork supporter Thomas 'Bomber' Roche, announced a march in support of the players.

Last Sunday week, whilst handing out fliers for the march outside of the Cork v Meath National Football League game, Roche and his associates were subjected to a tirade of ‘foul and abusive’ language by Jim Brohan of Blackrock and the CCB, according to several witnesses. Meanwhile, in Galway, the Cork developmental team were humbled in a challenge match against club side Portumna. Three quarters of the way in, Portumna were leading by 4-13 to 0-04. It was only after Portumna made 10 substitutions that Cork managed to restore a modicum of respectability to the scoreline. Gerald McCarthy praised his players for the effort and told us that they were tired. What he neglected to mention was that their opponents had fielded the same side in a match against CIT just 24 hours previously.

On Thursday night, an embattled County Board sought to steal the limelight with a crafted press statement which was remarkably self-serving, even by the board’s own standards. If diverting attention away from the supporters march was their goal, then this was a singular failure; little over 40 minutes later, the footballers announced their intention to join the hurlers at the end of their NFL campaign, should matters not be resolved to the satisfaction of both panels.

This, in broad terms, was the background to last Saturday’s show of support in Cork. If the 2008 panel had not been clear enough in their intentions not to play for McCarthy again, the constant drip-feed of media claims will have seen to that. On Saturday, before the march, we had McCarthy and goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack at loggerheads on the Marian Finucane show, with the goalkeeper all but accusing his former manager of lying. Such is the level of polarisation that one can see no room for accommodation between the parties. In the meantime, the real victim is the Cork sporting public. A crowd one-tenth of the size of that which marched on Saturday saw the 2009 panel hammered by Dublin in the league the following day. At this rate, relegation to division two and and the Christy Ring cup is all too real a prospect.

For the full text of the player's statement at the press conference on January 26th, follow this link.

The conference can be viewed in full here.

Gerald McCarthy's response to the statement can be read here

The Cork County Board press statement on February 5th can be read here. can be read here.

And the subequent announcement by the Cork footballers here.

Finally, the heated exchange between Gerald McCarthy and Donal Óg Cusack on SATURDAY's Marian Finucane show can be heard here; or via this podcast feed:. The item starts 1 hour and 16 minutes into the show.

28 January 2009

The true character of the real Cork panel

Letter published in the Evening Echo, Wednesday 28/1/2009

"Below is a letter my club have sent to the Examiner at the weekend for publication along with one from another club in Down, I think this gives a better understanding of the type of hurling people that Donal Og, Sully and their colleagues are than any of the snide remarks being made to try and indulge in character assasination."

"In Newry's experience Cork's Senior Hurlers are true Gaels."

A chara,

I hope you will permit me a few lines to publicly thank members of the Cork Senior Hurling team of 2008 for their continued support for hurling development in Newry and indeed Co Down in general. At the outset I want to state that I'm no apologist for the GPA or with an axe to grind with GAA officialdom as I sit myself on both the Down Hurling Board and Ulster Hurling committee thus I'm fully aware of the valuable role that administrators play within the GAA. However,I have been prompted to write this in the wake of continued attempts, bordering in some cases on character assassination, to portray this group of players as self-centred, interested only in themselves and on some type of ego trip to destroy the fabric of the GAA. I want the Cork hurling public to get some understanding of the true nature of these players and the often unseen efforts they make to promote hurling in the "backwaters" that have been continually ignored by the powers that be whose job it should be to develop hurling! Only last week we had the pleasure of once again hosting Diarmuid O 'Sullivan in Newry for our annual juvenile hurling awards and to launch the building of our hurling wall as part of our continued progress on our ten year development plan. In the past four years Donal Og Cusack and Diarmuid O'Sullivan have been regular visitors to our club, helping to launch our schools coaching initiative four years ago which has proved to be the springboard for the rejuvenation of juvenile hurling in Newry. Before their first visit hurling in Newry was on its last legs but over the following years with their continued support we have reached the situation where our juvenile hurlers are meeting and beating the Ards clubs at U12/10 level and matching the best in Ulster ,not for one moment am I suggesting this is the sole reason but the publicity they create coupled with hugely increased numbers attending training in the wake of their visits to the local schools is a significant factor. When you read all the press reports about senior Cork players being egotistical, interested only in themselves and in some way seeking to undermine the ethos of the GAA I can assure the public of Cork that the reality as borne out by their efforts is Newry couldn't be further from the truth, indeed I genuinely believe that if the GAA hierarchy was as interested in promoting and developing hurling in weaker counties as these two players and their colleagues hurling would be in a significantly stronger position across the country.

Not only have they helped promote hurling in Newry but throughout Down. I have had the privilege of coaching the Down minor hurling team in the past and both players have taken time out to help coach these players on more than one occasion particularly on our visit to Cork in 2006. This visit was almost singly organised by Donal Og, he organised the challenge match for us, the talk with Sean Og who also arranged to take time out to speak to the players along with a training session which Donal Og conducted himself, basically he gave up his whole weekend to help a group of hurlers from over 200 miles away, those actions say more about the true nature of this fellow gael than any number of press statements or media interviews to the contrary. Anytime we have asked Donal Og or Diarmuid to visit they have always agreed often at short notice, last week was a case in point where at very short notice Diarmuid agreed to travel north again not only to visit schools in the locality and conduct our awards night (with over 70 juveniles attending our U14-U8 awards on Saturday) but on the Friday night he also went to Ballycran an additional round trip of a hundred miles to present the medals at their juvenile awards, surely those are the actions of a player genuinely interested in helping promote hurling and what is best for the game we all love.

It is always simple to look at the headlines in the papers or the spin being created by others for their own agenda without looking beyond this at people's actions on a regular basis away from the glare of the cameras and certainly if you asked the young hurlers of Newry and Down their opinion of the Cork Senior hurlers and in particular Donal Og Cusack and Diarmuid O'Sullivan it would be one of fellow gaels committed totally to the promotion and good of hurling who are always willing to take time out for the people that really matter, not administrators or all stars but the youth of Ireland who want to play the greatest game on this earth. Like all genuine hurling people I hope to see these great servants of our game return to the arena they belong in and ensuring that Cork regain their rightful place at the top of the hurling role of honour.

Is mise le meas

Cumann Iomana Iuir Cinn Tra

A chara,

Finally catching up on emails and text messages. I was sorry I missed Diarmuid because the feedback from all at the club was that they thought him an absolute gentleman and everyone enjoyed meeting him. They were particularly appreciative of the interest he took in all the kids and his willingness to chat and to pose for photographs.

I've copied Eamonn and Paul in to this note because of the kind offer Diarmuid made to spend time with the County Development squads in the Spring/Summer. We will galdly take him up on that offer.

My personal thanks to you for helping arrange the visit.

Seamas O hAonais


Naomh Sheosamh Baile Crann