Aogán Ó Fearghail: ‘Predictable’ criticism from ‘The Sunday Game’ now tiresome

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail says The Sunday Game has become “predictable” and “tiresome” in its negativity.

Aogán Ó Fearghail: ‘Predictable’ criticism from ‘The Sunday Game’ now tiresome

Ó Fearghail also defended Tyrone’s sense of grievance with how they have been portrayed in some quarters, such as The Sunday Game.

On the programme last Sunday week, Colm O’Rourke said there was “a bad smell” associated with Tyrone because of some of their on-field behaviour.

Asked if the former Meath star’s comments discredited the GAA, Ó Fearghail said: “It possibly is. It’s discrediting of the people themselves.”

Ó Fearghail has twice criticised The Sunday Game during this championship, taking issue with Joe Brolly and Shane Curran.

“I did say it before and I would still say it again: I think some of The Sunday Game commentary is unfair. But at this stage it’s predictable and in fairness it’s consistent in its negativity. So it’s fairly predictable. It’s tiresome, I find.

“When people talk about smells or nastiness or anything like that, I just find it unhelpful in our sport.

“I like analysis where people say something is wrong and where they point out that something could be improved. There’s nothing wrong with that but using that type of language is not something I like.”

Ó Fearghail said The Sunday Game’s analysis may be a consideration when the next round of media rights come up at the end of next season.

It was a live issue last year after Prime Time’s coverage of the GAA’s decision to award exclusive rights to Sky Sports for 14 games. “It might be. It could be an issue.”

He refused to criticise the Central Competition Control Committee’s decision to propose an eight-week ban for Tiernan McCann for bringing the association into disrepute, which was later overturned by the Central Hearings Committee (CHC). However, he agrees that Tyrone have been treated unfairly in the media.

“I wouldn’t particularly comment on a specific case but I can understand why Tyrone feel, in general, a little aggrieved because I would share that. I feel myself as an Ulsterman, at times, Ulster counties and Tyrone do feel that they get a particularly negative criticism. But, at the same time, every county has to accept that if some of their members do something that isn’t correct. In the (McCann) case, the committee (CHC) did find that there was a yellow card warranted so therefore it’s proven that something wrong happened.”

Ó Fearghail feels Ulster teams were patronised before they started winning All-Ireland titles again in the noughties although he doesn’t buy the “southern media” contention cited in Tyrone.

“I think one of the greatest critics Tyrone have (Joe Brolly) is very much part of a northern jurisdiction. I wouldn’t be into where the criticism emanates from. Look, new kids on the block do sometimes get criticism. Tyrone were like many Ulster counties that I certainly remember. I’ve been coming to All-Irelands since 1973 and Ulster counties generally, always in my memory, just came down and got well beaten.

“I shouldn’t have been but I was in dressing rooms where people would say, ‘Well done lads, you are doing a great job up there, we know how hard it is and keep it up’. That was unfortunate but now that they’ve started to do well, then there’s a little bit of an edge to some commentary. It was a little patronising for a long time when I was involved in the Ulster Council for 25 years.”

Meanwhile, Wexford’s James Owens will referee Sunday week’s All-Ireland senior hurling final, the first match official outside Barry Kelly, James McGrath and Brian Gavin to take charge of a decider since 2010. It’s the Askamore man’s first final having previously officiated the All-Ireland minor final in 2007, the U21 final the following year, this year’s All-Ireland senior club final and Munster SHC final.

Carlow’s Paud O’Dwyer, the man in the middle for last Sunday week’s All-Ireland minor semi-final between Tipperary and Dublin, will referee the grade’s final on September 6.

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