JOHN FOGARTY: Conor McCarthy’s article nothing to get hung up about

Our exchange of salutations with Conor McCarthy in Killarney on Saturday was a brief one. 

Not because we feared the wrought of being seen with him. Scout’s honour. He was simply going in an opposite direction on Lewis Road and there was rain to avoid.

We didn’t part without jokingly warning him to keep his head down. Going by the words of a Kerry County Board official we met later that evening, he might have been better wearing a helmet. He didn’t so much as poke a hornets’ nest as pound it.

As a Cork man, McCarthy was accused of having an agenda. Kerry folk cried foul on the tenet of

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the piece in last Friday’s newspaper although would they have been so offended if the piece wasn’t published on the eve of the Munster final replay?

Some of the reaction to the article bordered on the hilarious. On Newstalk on Friday night, former Kerry player Declan O’Sullivan cried conspiracy. “I’m not sure where it is coming from. Maybe it’s coming from the management side of things. They tried something very similar against Mayo last year as well.”

O’Sullivan was referring to Brian Cuthbert and Ronan McCarthy’s comments about Mayo’s “tactical fouling” prior to the counties’ All- Ireland quarter-final.

To suggest McCarthy was in cahoots with them comes across as absurd. O’Sullivan seems to be suffering from the same kind of paranoid affliction as his club-mate Jack O’Connor during his first term as Kerry manager.

Engaging with McCarthy on Twitter, Tomás Ó Sé and Sean O’Sullivan took exception to his claims. In fairness to the pair and the other two Ó Sé brothers, they were never ones to gabble with referees but they had team-mates who were.

The best, most established teams do. Mentioning Kerry in the same bracket as New Zealand, McCarthy was actually paying them a massive compliment.

At the same time and inadvertently he was highlighting something Cork don’t have.

Reading McCarthy’s article, Alec Baldwin’s famous scene in Glengarry Glen Ross came to mind. Kieran Donaghy follows the ABC philosophy — Always Be Closing. Everything he does on a pitch, be it a handshake or a handpass, is aimed towards closing. There is purpose to his actions. Sean Cavanagh is another. In Thurles on Saturday, he clearly fouled Colin O’Riordan yet had reason to complain about it with referee David Gough.

To suggest referees aren’t malleable is a naive notion. If that wasn’t the case then why have so many managers made attempts in the media to try and plant a seed into a referee’s head before games? Like James Horan before the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin. Like Cuthbert and McCarthy prior to last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. It’s not a condonable practice but it happens too regularly to believe managers when they say referees are their own men.

The likes of Donaghy, Sean Cavanagh and Stephen Cluxton are around that long that they know all the referees on first name terms. That sort of familiarity is an asset.

Not to use it would not only be a waste, it would also be an oversight. Referees, as has so often been said, are humans. What they want is to be respected but they like to be liked.

Earlier this year in Killarney, Jim Gavin argued Kerry had attempted to influence the referee Eddie Kinsella into sending off Michael Fitzsimons for a serious foul on Fionn Fitzgerald. “A lot of the opposing players seemed to put him under pressure,” he said.

“Maybe the wrong call was made, we’ll need to review the tape, and for the sending off, the player (Fitzgerald) seemed to go down quite quickly so again we’ll have to have a look at that.” Fitzsimons deserved to be dismissed but there was Donaghy giving credit to Kinsella afterwards.

“Kerry and Dublin is notoriously feisty. I thought Eddie and his officiating team did a great job. There were a few skirmishes here and there. I thought he handled it very well. When the cards needed to be given out, he gave them out.”

Kerry, like any other county, have every right to be indignant but only when it’s warranted. Like when Eamonn Fitzmaurice spoke of what does appear to be a movement to paint his team as cynical. Like how on Saturday Michael Shields wasn’t subjected to the same criticism as Aidan O’Mahony for feigning an injury in 2008.

But McCarthy’s piece was not something to get hung up on. There was more than a smidgeon of a suggestion that the Kerry fans were protesting too much. Maybe it was frustration of a county who as reigning All-Ireland champions have been shot at one too many times already this year. If anyone had reason to be up in arms last week it was Cork when Darragh Ó Sé described Alan O’Connor as a bully. In one word, he was more offensive than all 1,500 words or so of McCarthy’s column.

In his acceptance speech in Clones on Sunday, Monaghan captain Conor McManus thanked David Coldrick and his officials. Referees are rarely mentioned in such addresses but what harm could it do?

More importantly, what advantage might it bring? Coldrick will take charge of one or two games from the All-Ireland quarter-finals onwards and with that there is a possibility his and Monaghan’s paths will cross again.

McManus is no daw. Neither is Donaghy. They know their ABC.

Time for Munster Council to light up Killarney

Conor McCarthy’s article nothing to get hung up about

There was no winner of the Lotto last Saturday night. The Munster Council should have entered. After a replay and avoiding extra-time, their luck was in. Tom Watson may have finished out the 18th at St Andrew’s on Friday night after sunset but it’s unlikely Kerry and Cork could have gone into two additional periods, given the darkening Killarney sky.

The need for floodlights at Fitzgerald Stadium was never so obvious.

The town of Killarney certainly benefited financially from the second day out but the Kerry County Board hosts might also be rewarded with the provision of floodlights now. A tidy €3.75 million has been earmarked for the redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh with the other four counties each picking up €500,000. Fortune favoured the Munster Council on Saturday but they can’t always expect to find themselves in clover. Killarney has been so good to the province that it seems only fair they light it up.

Don’t blame the ref, Brian

Conor McCarthy’s article nothing to get hung up about

Sorry, Brian McIver, but if you think people are going to believe you are quitting in protest at Conor Lane’s refereeing you’ve another thing coming.

The former Derry manager had reason to be furious with some of the match official’s decisions in Pearse Stadium on Saturday but Derry were protagonists in their own downfall. They found themselves in the qualifiers because of a lack of enterprise in the closing stages against Donegal. Their football wasn’t good enough in Salthill. McIver had also been given leeway from the clubs to get a clear run into the Ulster championship.

McIver now leaves a void Derry will find hard to fill when they have shown again they are not up to scratch. In fact, there are a number of key football managerial appointments to be made with the onus on Tipperary to build on Peter Creedon’s good work . With Laois in the market after Tomás Ó Flatharta’s departure, Tipp will have to act quickly. Their gaze may turn to Dublin where there are suitable candidates. Creedon said work commitments prevented him from staying, a far more believable reason than McIver’s.

Email: john.fogarty@examiner.ie

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