One foul swoop and access all areas in peril

Dublin selector Greg Kennedy and Kilkenny manager Brian Cody exchange views after the former Galway player had intercepted a TJ Reid free to deny a goal chance during Saturday’s Leinster SHC clash. Picture: Stephen McCarthy

On the de facto opening Championship weekend, Greg Kennedy provided a whopper. 

God bless them, Sky Sports and RTÉ knew it too but catching this 400 pound marlin wasn’t the difficult part; landing him was. And in their excitement both failed.

Contrary to what both might have you believe, Kennedy didn’t lose Dublin their Leinster SHC opener on Saturday night. 

That’s not to say the selector didn’t help matters by intercepting TJ Reid’s free to deny a goal chance. With one foul swoop he pulled the tails of a few Cats.

But the suggestion in the stations’ coverage that his actions, and his alone, were the team’s downfall was wide of the mark. 

Jamesie O’Connor was the level-headed exception but the heinousness of Kennedy’s act was the easy narrative sought and it was the easy narrative found in spite of an insipid Dublin second-half display and some sharp tactical redrawing by Brian Cody that included at least four positional changes and one personnel switch.

The claim Reid was entitled to take a quick free was open to interpretation also. 

According to Ollie Canning, a former team-mate of Kennedy’s: “There should be some sort of sanction on that. He (Reid) can take a quick free. If the referee allows it, he allows it.”

For that to happen, though, Cathal McAllister either had to blow his whistle or signal that play could restart.

He certainly didn’t do the latter and as he was busy speaking to Chris Crummey, he was unable to do the former.

So without McAllister’s permission Reid was also chancing his arm.

Maybe it was the authority with which Kennedy prevented the ball from reaching an unmarked Billy Ryan that infuriated the Kilkenny sideline and supporters the most but as a goal was all but certain to be disallowed it shouldn’t have mattered. 

But it did as Dublin were five points up and the home team were struggling.

There will be ramifications, if not for Kennedy — McAllister appeared to have dealt with the matter and thus a retrospective suspension might be avoided — then for the game itself. 

Maor foirnes have been taking liberties and while some have been punished in recent times — Tony McEntee, Ryan McMenamin and Jason Sherlock are three examples — it doesn’t appear enough has been done to dissuade many others.

Kennedy himself was sanctioned last year for excessive pitch encroachment in Cuala’s drawn All-Ireland final against Na Piarsaigh. 

Because the replay took place so soon after and he had served notice of his intention to contest the ban, he was permitted to assist Mattie Kenny in the replay.

However, on the basis of that case and one involving Clare co-manager Donal Moloney, a motion was put forward and passed at Congress earlier this year, meaning individuals are no longer free to carry on their roles while a disciplinary case against them is pending.

Should proposed penalties be handed to a player or team official during this year’s Championship, their case will be heard prior to the next game. 

Now Kennedy could be the catalyst for another change to the rulebook and we know gamesmanship has prompted the GAA to react quickly before.

Five years ago, injured Tyrone panel member Conor Clarke fed Niall Morgan for kick-outs during their Ulster quarter-final against Monaghan. 

He also waved frantically behind Morgan’s goal as Kieran Hughes stepped up to take a penalty.

Soon after, the regulation came in that all ballboys had to be neutral.

Sideline guidelines were also sharpened following an altercation between Paul Galvin and Armagh sub John Toal during the 2006 All-Ireland quarter-final.

From Cork hurlers smuggling in lighter sliotars when taking penalties to Lee Keegan throwing a GPS unit at Dean Rock, gamesmanship has been part and parcel of the modern game. 

That doesn’t make it right but it is viewed as a lesser offence when it is committed by those playing the game.

The maor foirnes of a couple of inter-county Gaelic football teams are known for their verbals towards opposing players, at times when frees are being taken.

Match regulation 2.6 applicable to Allianz League games, inter-county and inter-club championship states the maor foirne “may enter the field of play only through the area in front of the team’s designated area, and only when the ball has gone out of play following a score, wide or during a stoppage called by the referee. 

"He shall exit the field at the nearest point and return to his designated area without interfering with play or opposition personnel.”

If Kennedy does escape sanction it may just prove a short-term victory before the landscape changes permanently.

Has Cody found magic formula?

Elsewhere on this page, we question RTÉ’s analysis of the Greg Kennedy incident but any criticism directed at the national broadcasters for not competently covering a hectic Championship weekend is wide of the mark.

Without weekday broadcasting rights, their hands are tied.

Like them, we try in vain to capture a busy and at times compelling couple of days, and that was just for hurling:

  • When it is within the power of the GAA to expand their media rights, president John Horan’s claim that RTÉ are “driven by nothing other than numbers” in picking their live games, which are predominantly Liam MacCarthy Cup matches at the outset of the Championship, was unfair.
  • Liam Sheedy’s keenness not to expand on Eamon O’Shea’s role in the group will only attract more interest. Maor uisce on Sunday, former manager and selector O’Shea was deep in conversation with coach Tommy Dunne at times during the game.
  • Our fear for Cork going into last weekend was inertia. Had Colm Spillane been fit, would John Meyler have gone with 14 of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final team?
  • As it turns out, Clare’s reconnaissance mission to Walsh Park during the league worked out well for them. But then it’s not as if the venue is all that dissimilar to their own Cusack Park.
  • In rearranging his defence for Saturday’s second half, Brian Cody may have come across a formula that can serve Kilkenny through the Championship. So long as Pádraig Walsh has a licence to go forward, all is good in the world.
  • On expert free-takers alone, teams can’t depend as Cork learned on Sunday yet the day before Dublin discovered to their cost the importance of a reliable one.
  • Kerry had a bad day at the office in Dunloy on Saturday but the ultra-competitiveness of the McDonagh Cup will out, as indicated by the Offaly-Laois cracker.

Limerick’s tale one to behold

Like the world and his mother, our preview of the Tipperary-Limerick Munster SFC quarter-final plumed for the home team. 

At the same time, Limerick’s solid start to Division 4 this year had to be considered.

Had would-be promoted Leitrim not seen them off in a tense tie in Kilmallock in February, they would have been in a race for Division 3.

Instead, they finished out the campaign with five consecutive defeats. 

But their biggest loss came by five points and the final 10 minutes of games let them down while injuries blunted their edge in the latter stages of the group.

Those weighing up Saturday’s game would have also remembered how 12 months ago manager Billy Lee had a public row with the Limerick County Board about player availability and the lack of meals prior to facing Clare in the provincial quarter-final. 

Lee revealed he was almost convinced to pull the team and forfeit the match.

It might have seemed like curtains for the Newcastlewest man at that stage but, on reflection, his frustrations were interpreted as passion. 

He went away and formed an all-Limerick management team with Brian Begley coming in as coach, the homespun mentors resonating with the panel.

Without taking too much from their achievement, Lee also mentioned that training on the same nights in Rathkeale as the hurlers might have rubbed off on them. 

In orchestrating the county’s biggest SFC win since beating Longford in 2012, he has provided the summer’s first feel-good story.

And a football one, no less.

Dalo's Hurling Podcast: Bubbles baffles Cork, Clare conquer Walsh Park, Dubs rattle the cage

More on this topic

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher suffers ruptured cruciate ligament

McGuinness showed guts to leave comfort zone. Why the begrudgery?

The army 'wouldn’t have stopped' early pitch celebration from Roscommon fans

No reward as Clare weather the Cork storm

More in this Section

Noel Mooney open to Niall Quinn-FAI link-up

U20 Championship: Red Rose gain some revenge on Ireland

Martinez says Lukaku move would be good for the striker and Manchester United

England beat Ireland U20s with last-minute try

More by this author

Clare’s white line fever hits hard

Hurling not yet ready to tackle cynicism scourge

Munster SHC remains the bee’s knees

Say goodbye to Salthill or scatter with the wind


Lifestyle

UL Video series: How the largest women's association in Ireland is facing up to changing times

More From The Irish Examiner