"The roughest type of f***ing animals under the sun", was the colourful description by Kerry se nior football manager Páidi Ó Sé of his own beloved Kingdom supporters, in a recent interview, and apart from Counihan, a former Kerry selector, the reaction has been out of all proportion.
"A bit offside" in the phraseology, reckoned Sean, that's all. I know what Páidi meant, you know what he meant, the interviewer knew what he meant, we all knew.
Like a lot of us, Páidi is an earthy kind of an animal himself, prone to earthy language when discussing something dear to his heart. Look, every team in every code has a diverse kind of following, among whom are the very best, and the very worst. You'll get the guy who appreciates every effort being put in by his team, by the players, management, officials, and allows himself/herself only the occasional mild complaint.
And you'll get those for whom effort, work, commitment, dedication, courage in the occasional gamble, is all worthless, unless the ultimate title is won.
The latter isn't necessarily a fair-weather supporter either, in fact as likely as not is to be found at every game, training-session and cock-fight involving his team.
They are always the most vocal. They are all a necessary and vibrant part of the sporting circus, all add to the colour, the excitement, the argument, on and off-season. Occasionally however it can all get a bit over-the-top, and this is just such an occasion.
There's no point in beating about the bush here, Kerry football fans ARE different to everyone else. They are the kings, the Kingdom, the Gaelic football aristocrats, out on their own, way out on their own. Their attitude to All-Ireland titles is unique in Gaelic football. Unlike the rest of us, the annual championship journey is not begun in hope (forlorn hope for most), but in expectation.
There's always a lot of talk about the pressure on players and on managers in a perverse kind of way, there's a lot of pressure on fans also, especially fans of the more successful teams, and most especially on those most fanatical of all. Success may breed success, but it also brings with it increased levels of expectation. And pressure. Even for the most patient man alive, an earful can eventually become a bellyful, and it's obvious the Kerry manager has had that. But, the "f***ing animals" comment? I'm sure, I'm certain, that was targeted at the select vocally-abusive few, because there isn't a prouder and more committed Kerryman alive than Páidi Ó Sé. The almost manic effort he puts into preparation, as an eight-times All-Ireland medallist as player, dual All-Ireland winner as senior manager, is partially for his own satisfaction, partially for his players, but mainly for those very fans he so vividly describes. Yes, Páidi will have a little elaborating to do when he comes back from South Africa, but don't try to make this proud man crawl. God help us if we can't deal with a little trivia item like this. As for his other remarks, going with his instincts as opposed to being dictated to, yes it's a sideswipe at his management team, but it's also an honest admission that he had slipped himself, let the reins go slack.
Suck it up lads, we're all big boys now, able to ship a little criticism.
Get on with it. Oh, and bring back Maurice. Even in Kerry, ignoring such class is sheer folly.