JOHN FOGARTY: It’s not just Red Hands who must clean up act

The injuries sustained by Sean Cavanagh on Saturday were no laughing matter but the timing of the incident in Moy’s senior championship game against Edendork would leave critics of Tyrone football with a wry smile.

It, along with the 27 cards that were dished out and the six double-yellow dismissals, came less than 24 hours after the Stewartstown-Strabane intermediate championship brawl on Friday evening.

So bad is Tyrone club football’s name that there was a Comical Ali element to some of their local reporting.

There are few more committed GAA people than those behind Teamtalkmag Tyrone who provide such invaluable service of GAA coverage in the county.

On Sunday, they attempted to highlight a feel-good story about Galbally’s win over Pomeroy by posting: “On a weekend when others attempt to portray Tyrone Championship football as something else this is what 99% of our games in this county are about.”

Their opening point left themselves open to ridicule but they’re not far wrong on that last point. Yet it won’t suit the narrative. This past weekend’s games will be filed alongside the Cookstown-Finuge and Derrytresk-Dromid Pearses and deemed to be typical of a long-standing malaise in the county.

It’s not just Red Hands who must clean up act

Some will list the Moy-An Ghaeltacht game alongside it too given Marc Ó Sé’s recollection of how Cavanagh tried to convince a linesman to dismiss an opponent in their All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final in January. 

Ó Sé recalled: “Afterwards he explained away the incident by saying that if I was in his boots, I would have done the same thing. Well, here’s the thing, if I was in his boots I wouldn’t have gone running snitching to a linesman looking for a fellow player to be sent off.

In his book, Cavanagh didn’t make much of the matter only to confirm he complained to the linesman and Ó Sé went “ballistic”: “I was having none of it: ‘Hey, Marc, if I punched you, would you be happy about it?’” Truth be told, Ó Conchuir should have been dismissed long before then but again that doesn’t suit the story.”

As the guest of honour at the Irish News All-Stars award in Armagh on Thursday, Kevin McStay took aim at those Dublin and Kerry columnists who colour the game they want it to be won, ie by their teams. “Down south, the media voices will generally say that ‘ye in the north have fecked up the game with your systems, defensive coaches, dark arts, intimidation, 15 behind the ball, sledging’ — and whatever you’re having yourself,” he said. 

“And when you examine the media pressure that Kerry — and I could say Dublin just as easily — bring to bear on an event and how it is interpreted and how it gets told, it’s scary. If I went into Dublin, the list would be equally as long. The point is that this is how narratives and discussions get made.”

McStay’s comments were of course made prior to the unsavoury scenes in Tyrone but this is a point on which he has been consistent. 

In 2015, he wrote of Kerry: “It is well known they have a very strong voice in the media and are not slow to tog out their great stars of yesteryear when a narrative or lobby needs presenting.

Not that it has done Kerry much good this last while but McStay has a point about the saturation of Dublin and Kerry players in the punditry game. What’s more, the dirty deeds of Dublin and Kerry club players don’t seem to be as prominent. 

For instance, might we have heard about Stephen Wallace’s suspension or that melee in the Ardfert-John Mitchels game earlier this year had he not been Offaly manager at the time?

The row that broke out at the end of last year’s U17 Munster final was quickly forgotten about.

On Friday, Kilmacud Crokes beat Raheny 0-7 to 0-4, a scoreline that would be considered typical had it happened north of Dundalk. But because it didn’t it will be deemed an anomaly and dismissed. Tyrone don’t help themselves but in condemning them many others can’t.

Déise, Tipp deserve 2019 fairness

For those suffering inter-county withdrawals, anticipation is the killer, particularly after this year’s enthralling senior hurling championship.

It’s a full 237 days until the beginning of the 2019 Championships — 131 to day one of the Allianz League — but a picture is forming about what lies in store. Some dates for your diary:

October 11: 2019 Championship draw.

January 26/27:Start of the Allianz Leagues.

March 3:End of Allianz Hurling League proper.

March 24: End of Allianz Football League proper.

May 11/12: Start of the Leinster and Munster senior hurling championships.

May 25/26: The gap weekend. No Munster SHC at least.

June 16: End of the Leinster and Munster SHCs proper.

June 30: Likely Leinster and Munster SHC finals.

September 1: All-Ireland SFC final.

The decision by the Munster Council to add a break weekend makes considerable sense given the disadvantage Tipperary and Waterford suffered this season. 

At the same time, there will remain scheduling benefits for a couple of counties as one will have an extra week’s break on one side of the gap weekend and another will enjoy an additional rest following it meaning a two-week break prior to their final round game.

It’s not just Red Hands who must clean up act

A breather for everyone in the middle of the competition seems the most equitable thing to do but providing Tipperary and Waterford with those perks after what they were put through this year would be even fairer.

All-Stars mailbag

Dear PwC All-Stars committee,

“Hard to see how the contribution of John Conlon this year from game 1 to the SF didn’t merit a HOTY nomination. Graeme Mulcahy also...

Seamus Flanagan for YHOTY? Why not just nominate 5 at least! Don’t worry about us players, we won’t become overwhelmed with more voting options, we’ll manage!”

Yours, Richie Hogan.

Dear Richie,

Your point about John Conlon is well made and were there five nominations he would certainly have been included. Indeed, he was the choice of a number of selectors for a hurler of the year nominee. 

Seamus Flanagan was also proposed for young hurler of the year. You being a former executive member of the GPA’s national committee, you could suggest to the players body that the nominations put forward by the selection committees be extended to five given that choosing the player and young players of the year are within the remit of the GPA. 

Worrying about the players is not within the committees’ powers but getting more than 60% of them to vote in such situations should be a concern for somebody.

Dear PwC All-Stars committee,

“(John Conlon’s omission was) Outrageous .... A strange pattern of decisions over the last few years.”

Yours, Michael Fennelly.

Dear Michael,

Is it safe to assume you mean Gearóid McInerney’s omission from the top three last year? There you have an argument although Jamie Barron and Kevin Moran had outstanding seasons. 

If there are other examples, please provide them. Austin Gleeson as hurler of the year in 2016?

That one was on you and your colleagues, my good man.

Dear PwC All-Stars committee,

No Jack Browne, hard to understand that one. Was outstanding throughout the year.”

Yours, Jackie Tyrrell.

What is it with all these current and ex-Kilkenny players compl… a good call, Jackie, you remaining a paid-up member of the corner-back union. Slightly more deserving than his team-mate David McInerney, in our opinion.

Email:  john.fogarty@examiner.ie

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