Four cases of a major collapse in sport

Where did it all go wrong?

BY Sinéad Farrell 17:18 Saturday 18 February 2017, 17:18 18 Feb 2017

Cormac Murphy of Cork. Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Watching a sports dynasty go into demise is not an enjoyable sight. Or it's the most satisfying thing you could imagine, depending on the amount of success you're used to with the teams you support.

In the world of Gaelic Football, fans are collectively scratching their heads trying to fathom how the Down football team have been a reduced to a position where they have not won a competitive game since April 2015, losing all 11 competitive games last year.

They were emphatically dumped out of Division 1 and following a second successive defeat, they look to be facing another relegation battle this year.

With that example in mind, let's take a look at some other high-profile cases of gradual collapse in sport. 

Offaly Football/Hurling

Starting in the 1980's, Offaly hurling enjoyed over a decade of glory at provincial and national level. They won their first Leinster crown in 1980 and collected eight more gongs, including their triumph in 1995. 

Between 1981 and 1998, the Faithful claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup on four occasions.

It was an age in Offaly hurling that was characterised by the ferocious playing style brought by the Dooley's, Troy's and Whelahan's of this world.

Meanwhile their footballers claimed their third All-Ireland victory in 1982 to halt a certain drive for five and in 1997 they added a 10th leinster title. 

Football and hurling in Offaly today however, is comparably less promising. Their footballers seem to be locked in some sort of perpetual first-round combat with Longford in the Leinster championship, although the pair have been separated this year. Meanwhile, their hurlers are still looking for their first appearance in a provincial final since 2004.

Manchester United

As a United fan, watching my beloved team regress causes me great discomfort.

The narrative has been repeatedly explained but in short, under Sir Alex Ferguson they excelled, and now that the commander has stepped down, United look to be crestfallen.

Many will argue that Fergie bolted when he recognised the early signs of decline.

Indeed, they claimed the FA Cup last season, but sitting in sixth place on the Premier League table and contesting Europa Leagues instead of Champions Leagues, amounts to a dismal state of affairs at Old Trafford.

Tiger Woods

Between 1997 and 2008, Tiger Woods collected 14 major championships, just four behind Jack Nicklaus who won 18 championships in 24 years.

Was it the fire hydrant in 2009 and the subsequent scandal that gave him the yips? Or can his deterioration simply be linked to a litany of injuries? His back has been a persistent problem in recent years.

Whatever the cause, Woods has not won a Major title since that period of personal turmoil.

Cork Football/Hurling

Earlier this year, newly retired Cork footballer Patrick Kelly revealed that the inter-county squad have been reduced to setting up their own gym in a warehouse in order to prepare for the season.

The County Board has since challenged Kelly's statements, saying that the County Board paid for, and installed, the gym equipment. Cork county board chairman Ger Lane also says that the players did not paint the walls, as was stated by Kelly in an interview with the Irish Examiner.

In essence, Cork football is in a state of crisis, just seven years on from winning their seventh All-Ireland title. Their demoralising situation is further illustrated by a shock defeat to Tipperary in the Munster football championship last season - their first Munster championship loss to the Premier county since 1944.

The demise of the hurlers runs in parallel with the footballers. Granted, they won the Munster Senior Hurling League earlier this year and they recorded an impressive first-round win against Clare last weekend. But greater strides will have to be made to win the Liam MacCarthy back for the first time since 2005.

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