SEÁN BOYLAN has laughed off criticism of him by former Australian coach Kevin Sheedy who described him as a “leprechaun” in a newspaper column.
Sheedy was in charge of the team which recorded only the second home success in 2005 and controversially retained the Cormac McAnallen Cup in Croke Park the following year. That was after a mass brawl at the start of the second game which caused widespread revulsion within the GAA and all but brought about the abandonment of the experiment.
In the newspaper article, Sheedy wrote that he hadn’t been impressed by Boylan’s press conference afterwards.
Last night, following a practice match in which the full squad of 27 players was together for the first time on this tour, the Irish manager said he had received a phone call about the matter from a media source about a half hour before he left the team hotel. He replied that he hadn’t seen the particular article but said: “I wasn’t apportioning blame anywhere. I just said that what happened shouldn’t have happened and that’s it,” he commented, adding: “I wish I had the luck of a leprechaun!”
Pointing out that Sheedy was a renowned AFL coach, he said: “He is entitled to his opinion. If that’s what he feels about me, there’s not a thing I can do about that... I did give respect to the Australians for their fantastic skills. I mentioned it (again) the other day — their movement, their speed, shooting. It was awesome. You have to give credit where credit is due.”
At his press conference, on November 5, 2005, Boylan revealed that at one stage, he had considered taking his team off the field after what had happened at the start. And, he dismissed comments from the Australian side that Irish players started the trouble, commenting: “They can suggest what they like. It’s pure bullshit, excuse me, and pure nonsense. Don’t give me that.” Boylan had been particularly incensed by the treatment of his former (Meath) captain Graham Geraghty, who had to be hospitalised after suffering concussion when slung to the ground. Sheedy, in his (separate) media conference after the game alleged that the home team had been the aggressors both in Pearse Stadium in the opening test and in Croke Park.
He said one of his players had been head-butted and that others had been kneed in the back (an allegation also made by Boylan).
What really infuriated the Irish management was that key players, including Tadhg Kennelly, had been targeted at the throw-in and the end result was that Boylan had only three players available for interchange.
On the same occasion, Sheedy took a swipe at the Irish media over their coverage of the series. “Every time Australia win, the series is coming to an end. Unbelievable. You’re the greatest conmen I ever met,” he said.
Meanwhile, the six players who had delayed their departure until Monday because of club commitments, had varying roles to play in the practice game despite only arriving four hours earlier. The group included Armagh star Aaron Kernan, who picked up his eighth medal on Sunday and team captain Sean Cavanagh whose team — Moy — lost in the Tyrone intermediate final. Cavanagh voiced an indirect criticism of the home media for suggesting that the Australians won’t be putting out a strong side. “We’re under no illusions. I know from personal experience in 2005 when the Australians came out and beat us off the park — and they did so playing class football — their media was into the old craic of it being an inexperienced team and that they hadn’t all their stars. You don’t buy into that. They had all their stars in Croke Park in 2004 and we beat them off the park. They came here with a so-called nobody team in 2005 and they hammered us. Certainly I would be wary in that they are saying the same stuff in the media this time. We have to be competitive, but certainly the work has been done in the training field this past couple of weeks. We are probably more prepared this time than any of the years I have been involved.”
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