JOHN FOGARTY: McCann penalty was never going to stick

Tiernan McCann

And the prize for most predictable GAA headline of the year goes to “Tiernan McCann avoids eight-week ban”.

More like eight hours of bother between the coming, going and being in Dublin for his meeting with the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) on Wednesday night running into yesterday morning.If discommoding McCann and Tyrone was at the heart of the Central Competitions Control Committee’s (CCCC) decision to slap the player with a disrepute charge they can pat themselves on the back.

Although, it seemed the rest of Mickey Harte’s camp were quite enjoying themselves taking in a George Best play in Belfast.

But let’s be truthful here: Was there any other reason for the CCCC singling out McCann apart from causing him and Tyrone some nuisance in the lead-up to facing Kerry? This group may only have been put together by GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail six months ago, but it is made up of some long-standing and well-reputed officials. Surely they knew the penalty of bringing the association into disrepute was never going to stick?

As cheap as that may be, let’s hope for their sake that was their modus operandi and not, as Joe Kernan suggested yesterday, an attempt to “send out a bit of a message” that the GAA won’t stand for diving. Messages should never be sent out during a championship especially when there are only three matches left.

The CCCC’s actions came across as grossly reactionary to the outrage expressed in the media. By making it personal, by trying to make an example of McCann, they missed the point that feigning has been going on long before August 8 and the GAA have done little to address it. Worse for them, nobody has bought this sudden, new-found sense of disgust with the type of cynicism that was never truly considered under the remit of the black card.

The CHC’s decision was bad for the GAA’s authority on a couple of levels as they also found referee Marty Duffy to have made two errors of judgement. When, as expected, Darren Hughes’ red card is rescinded, it will be three mistakes. We have seen games where Duffy has officiated games capably and competently but in the end the party left with most egg on his face is not McCann or Hughes but the Sligo referee. The CCCC were no friend to him in attempting to pinch McCann the way they did.

At Cork’s monthly board meeting earlier this week, Father Ted was invoked when a club delegate said the Brian Cuthbert statement released by the executive wouldn’t be seen in the comedy. However, the CCCC’s stance against McCann would, reminiscent of Ted protesting outside the local cinema showing a blue movie and holding a “down with this sort of thing” placard.

Both postures hilariously ill-judged, both ill-timed and both self-defeating.


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