GAA Angry Fans

Fans are deeply divided – and certainly angry – about whether or not Kerry should have been awarded a penalty in the opening few minutes of Sunday’s All Ireland senior football semi final. Apart from that incident, opinion is united that it was a remarkably poor game to watch.

As if being beaten is not enough of a burden to bear, one fan is glad to see the back of the Royal supporters because of their alleged aping of English soccer fans.

At last, Croke Park officialdom have acknowledged the elephant in the stadium - the appalling state of the new pitch - and fans blame it for contributing hugely to the poor quality of the game.

There's a bit of a wrangle over who should really be installed as favourites for the football final and - as usual - there is criticism of the roles of referees, linesmen and umpires. This is an issue the GAA really needs to give attention to urgently.

Get in touch: Give your views and comments to An Fear Rua himself at GAA Angry Fans in 'The Irish Examiner' Just drop an email to gaafans@examiner.ie and get AFR's reaction to what you have to say.
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RED CARD GIVEN HIS BLATANT dive against Meath, is it fair to say Colm Cooper is a member of the Drogba/Eduardo school of player? While recognising his talent, Colm sometimes spends more time than necessary on the deck. The Meath back slipped on the pitch. The ball went through to Cooper, who was 'tagged or touched' by the Meath player. He went down like he was pole axed, the referee panicked and gave a penalty. Cooper is talented. It is not his fault. It was the ref who gave the soft penalty in the first minute of the game. Kerry deserved to win, but this early decision ruined the game as a contest. Poor refereeing and umpiring does the GAA no favours.
- Postman

AFR'S SHOUT: OK, at least we agree that Colm Cooper is an exceptionally gifted player. After that, our views diverge and you get a Red Card for your 'over-the-top' comments. Cooper was not - as you so delicately put it - merely 'tagged or touched' by Meath's full back Anthony Moyles. There was a failed attempt to trip him and then he was pulled back. It was an extraordinarily foolish thing for the Meath man to do. It was a free. And a free in the square is a penalty. End of story.

TICK IN THE BOOK ON SUNDAY WE had yet another example of how GAA referees give too many soft decisions in favour of the big counties and seem to be cowed by the likes of Jack O'Connor and Brian Cody on the side lines. We will need a good strong referee in the final because Cork will be hitting very hard and the Kerry lads will probably be taking their usual theatrical dives.
- Sal Óg

AFR'S SHOUT: No referee gets every decision 'spot on'. Gearóid Ó Cnámha as contae na Gaillimhe had a reasonably good game on Sunday and consulted to good effect with his umpires over a number of major decisions. No wonder, since two of his brothers were numbered among them, so they probably relied as much on mental telepathy as on their mics and ear pieces.

APPARENTLY THERE WAS an attendance of more than 50,000 at the game on Sunday. Definitely, there was a huge Meath crowd. As a neutral, I'm glad I only stumped up for a Hill ticket because the game was turgid altogether. I am not sure how useful it game was for Kerry. It was several gears below what Cork were playing last week. I suppose all they can really take from it is that 'Hell hath no fury like a dropped Tommy Walsh'. He was a man on a mission on Sunday.
- Clonliffe Cat

YELLOW CARD WHAT A TERRIBLE game on Sunday. Meath were awful and Kerry weren't much better. The kicking and passing was very poor and there were almost thirty wides in the game, most of them from Meath. The wet conditions didn't help, but for an All Ireland semi final you'd expect a lot better.
- Deise Boy

AFR'S SHOUT: The way Tommy Walsh came on as a sub and put Meath to the sword with a superb goal and a point restores your faith in the magic of Gaelic football at its best. A Yellow Card to 'Deise Boy' for his comments on Kerry's performance. Kerry were as good as they had to be to beat Meath. In other words, not very good. I expect we'll see a different Kingdom when they face their Rebel neighbours in the final.

RED CARD I AM DELIGHTED Kerry beat Meath on Sunday. I couldn't abide having those loutish Meath supporters filling our TV screens with English soccer antics on All Ireland final day. Thank goodness they are gone from the championship. They can return to Old Trafford now or wherever their usual haunt is and do all the pointing in unison, clapping overhead in unison and arm stretching in unison they like. You won't find a more culturally bereft county on this island - a sad sorry state of affairs when one thinks about the heritage and history it should be proud of.
- As Baile

AFR'S SHOUT: A Red Card (same colours as United or Liverpool in the 'English soccer', by the way) for having a 'go' at AFR's neighbours in the Royal county. Be fair. Most of them know Oldcastle better than they know Old Trafford. I'm afraid I can't be 'in unison' with your comments.

TICK IN THE BOOK PAT SPILLANE CLAIMS Cork will run a mile when they see the Kerry jersey in Croke Park. True, Cork do run miles but we'll have the ball this time and the O Sé's will be in the slipstream! Revenge and desire can get you far. Cork will be out for revenge after '07 and maybe will follow the mantra of 'you have to lose one, before you win one', but having been in the '07 final should erase any concern of stage fright like what happened to Waterford last year.

Desire will be a factor. Kerry will be playing in their sixth consecutive final and half of their team have at least three All Ireland medals, much the same as Tyrone. Cork have no medals and it showed in their intensity in the semi final, winning the 50-50 balls and repelling the Tyrone attack even while a man down in the second half. Cork are in good physical shape and Conor Counihan should have the players focused for the final. No doubt, he will remind them of emphatic semi final wins by Mayo in 2006 and Meath in 2001, both of whom were dumped in the final!

Kerry have played seven games this year and only played good once, Dublin made them look good in the quarter final by losing 70% of their own kick outs. They won't enjoy that luxury against Cork if Pearse O'Neill and Alan O'Connor have anything to do with it! I look forward to seeing the look on Spillane's face when Graham Canty lifts the Sam Maguire Cup. Cork football thrives in a recession!
- Justin Credible

AFR'S SHOUT: I'm not sure I recall the Templenoe Talisman making that particular comment. If he did, he would be most unwise, not a condition we would normally associate with him. While I fancy Cork to win, you get a little Tick in the Book for being just a little bit too Corky, sorry, cocky!

THE PITCH IN Croke Park on Sunday was an absolute disgrace. I never saw players slipping and sliding so much and it gave them no chance of providing us with a spectacle of worthy of an All Ireland semi final.
- Douglas Dougal

AFR'S SHOUT: I'm glad to see Stadium Director, Peter McKenna, has finally admitted that all is not well with the pitch. My guess is that the surface has been rolled and re-rolled extensively in an attempt to produce a flat, consistent surface for next Sunday's hurling final. A side effect of that process has been to compact the surface unduly, so that when the heavy rain fell on Sunday, the downpour literally had nowhere to go. The slippery surface was a major contributory factor to the Moyles / Cooper incident that led to Kerry's penalty.

WHY WERE THE backroom teams of Kerry and Meath so unprepared for the very slippery conditions at the game in Croke Park? Surely, in this day and age of 'professionalism' in preparing teams, the army of backroom boys and girls could have had alternative footwear available to suit the conditions? They should not let this up to chance.
- Crean's Catch

AFR'S SHOUT: Players need to take some responsibility for this as well. The most surefooted player on the field was Kerry's Paul Galvin. When his team came out to look at the pitch before the big game, Galvin gave the surface a right good inspection and, I'd guess, chose his studs accordingly. Too many players treat the walk onto the pitch as just a chance to get a breath of fresh air.

YELLOW CARD THE SO-CALLED EXPERTS analysts and especially the bookies need to get a grip. No sooner had the second semi-final ended last Sunday but we were hearing that Cork were favourites ahead of the final. Experience tells us that the Croke Park 'factor' can be a major plus for Kerry. They invariably use the occasion, and the wide open spaces which suit their game, to huge effect.

Cork know this better than most (remember '02, '05, '06, '07 and '08). True, Cork have been very impressive thus far in the Championship, apart from a little blip against Limerick. They have the quality and the form to win the final and if they were to defeat Kerry they would indeed be deserving winners. But that is a very big 'if'. Nevertheless, it is time for that Croke Park monkey to be finally put to rest and maybe the (under)dog, this time, will come out on top ! ! !
- Realistic Rebel

TICK IN THE BOOK I THOUGHT JACK O'Connor's repeated attempts to deny that Kerry would be favourites for the final smacked a bit of arrogance. No one suggested for a minute that they would be favourites. Cork will be good and ready for them when the final comes round and Kerry won't have a stroll like they got against Meath.
- Gleann Maighir

AFR'S SHOUT: In fairness, Jack was responding to - or maybe trying to head off - some convoluted media 'logic' that would install Kerry as favourites because of an alleged 'hoodoo' they have over Cork. Cork despatched Tyrone with flair and determination. Kerry toiled to put away a naive Meath team, yet some geniuses want to install the Kingdom as favourites? Is Gaelic football the only sport where an indifferent semi final performance forms the basis of favouritism?

WHY DID THE Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) ask referee John Bannon to review the video footage of the semi final incident involving John Miskella? This was replayed over and over again on RTÉ's 'The Sunday Game' in a kind of TV kangaroo court. The referee consulted his umpire, made his decision on the day and that should have been the end of it.
- Nemo Quod

AFR'S SHOUT: John Bannon showed great wisdom in not rising to the bait thrown out by the RTÉ pundits and the CCCC. He had the moral courage to stand by his previous decision despite all the lobbying and he made a wise and humane stand. As his inter-county refereeing career draws to a close, he should be remembered for giving Miskella the chance to make amends in the All Ireland final. I've no doubt it's an opportunity a chastened player will grasp with relief.

CORK WILL HAVE played twenty-eight championship matches since 2005. - thirteen of these against Kerry. They have only lost six matches in the five seasons - all of them to Kerry. They have got to a final/semi final every year, losing each time to Kerry. And you'd wonder why we are heartily sick of it. Even though Cork lose less than half the time against Kerry, because they play them at least twice a season, they get dumped out of the championship by them eventually. On past performance, Cork have no chance in the final. They have never beaten Kerry twice in one season.

The championship structure has to change. When you get two successful teams from one province, especially when the others in that province are 'weak', it leads to a lot of repetitive fixtures.
-Moycullen 14

AFR'S SHOUT: Well done on your excellent research and analysis. It highlights yet another good reason why a move towards a 'knock out' open draw is becoming imperative.

WOULD'NT IT BE great to see two new teams winning the All Irelands this year. Let's say, if Tipp in the hurling could break the Cats' dominance and the Rebels take the long awaited football title. The GAA needs to see the emergence of new teams as our games are really struggling to compete with other sports. So, a Munster double is what's needed.
- Scobby

AFR'S SHOUT: It's certainly time to pass the McCarthy Cup and the Sam Maguire around a few more counties. It's amazing the boost that being in an All Ireland final gives to a county and the benefits live on afterwards.

ON TWO OCCASIONS during the Cork v Tyrone senior football semi final Pascal McConnell made two short kick outs that were collected inside the 21 yard line. There was also a border line one where they collected it by the skin of their teeth, just on the '21'. As the referee is probably going to be at the midfield during the kick outs, there is an onus on the linesmen and umpires to keep a check on it. This is the short kick out era after all!
- Rebel Reiteoir

AFR'S SHOUT: I'll be very honest and admit that I wasn't aware that a kick out has to clear the '21' line. Since umpires already have a role in signalling a square ball and checking on a goalie stepping outside the square in a hurling puck out, it seems logical enough to give them the job of signalling to the referee if a foul kick out has been taken.

I HOPE GAA President Christy Cooney stands firm in rejecting the GPA's call for 5% of the Association's income to be paid to the players' body. If he gives in to them, it will signal the end of the GAA as we know it. Inter county players are only a small part of the greater GAA organisation which caters for a huge number of club players and, in these times of economic difficulty, the GAA need to continue to invest in under-age coaching and games development.
- Seamus Walsh

'Justin Credible' wins this week's 'Comment of the Week' prize. His clever choice of pen name alone merits recognition, but he also gets our award because of his incisive analysis of the relative merits of the Rebel and Kingdom footballers as they face into the final.


'Justin' wins his choice of a His or Hers GAA t-shirt from our good friends at Puckout.com, the web site where you can design your own leisure wear online.


CATCH UP with more great conversation, controversy and craic on 'An Fear Rua - The GAA Unplugged!' at www.anfearrua.com




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