The irony of Andy Moran’s call on Monday for a 50-yard penalty to punish cynicism late in matches shouldn’t be lost on anybody.
He might be right, but here was a player so blessed that Maurice Deegan black-carded him against Tyrone after he confronted the referee in Castlebar last Sunday week.
Consider how he tripped Jonny Cooper to score a point in last year’s All-Ireland final and you will understand Moran is no squeaky-clean operator. It might be said that Moran has to take matters into his own hands against a defender, but it goes without saying that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Cynicism pays, we’ve know that now for several years, but what is worse is just how acceptable it has become. Since the distasteful finish to last year’s All-Ireland final when Lee Keegan threw his GPS unit at Dean Rock, as he stepped up to kick the winning free, and Dublin’s forwards then pulling down Mayo’s potential kick-out retrievers, there has been a growing appreciation of it off the field as there has been on it.
Six years ago, Kevin Walsh, then Sligo manager, said cynical fouls should be red-card offences. Now, his Galway team’s rise can be partly attributed to their expertise in the dark arts.
Ahead of more national finals in this weekend, here are 10 examples of the worrying consent for cynicism:
“You know, I always say: ‘If you were in my shoes, what would people have done?’ Would they have come up with something else? Obviously, it’s very unsportsmanlike and I totally accept that, but, I suppose, you’re looking into losing your fourth All-Ireland [final]…”
— Keegan defends chucking his GPS.
“In the last couple of minutes, it came into it alright, but throughout the game, it was end to end, you didn’t really have the time to do anything that was cynical, you know. No, it didn’t feel that way, it definitely didn’t feel any more than what it normally is. You’re never going to get rid of cynical play. A player is going to do absolutely whatever they can - I would have taken off my jersey and thrown it at Dean Rock, to put him off, you know. So, this is the game… I’ve got to the stage in life where I’m playing for Dublin and, ultimately, the effect of that is going to help people in my charity, especially if I win it. So, I am going to do what I can to win.”
— Dublin defender Philly McMahon.
“In a moment in time, you’re just thinking: ‘God, I’d do anything to win the All-Ireland.’ Dublin players did that and I wouldn’t castigate them for the fouls off the ball”
— Mayo manager Stephen Rochford.
“Fair play to him. I thought it was genius! I remember thinking one day of throwing my gumshield at someone, but I never thought about the GPS. You do what you have to do.”
— Dublin forward Kevin McManamon.
“Any man is willing to do what he can for his county. If you were there in the last minute of an All-Ireland final, what would you do? That’s every player’s thought process. It was the 75th minute. David Clarke is incredible on the kickouts, getting them off short. So I did what I thought was best for the team at that moment.”
— Ciarán Kilkenny explains why he brought down Lee Keegan in the dying seconds of the final.
“I’d expect it from anyone who has ambitions of winning an All-Ireland. Kill or be killed. In soccer, there is a red card, but that does not stop defenders making challenges to save a goal or Luis Suarez handling a ball on the line. It is part of the game.”
— Kerry forward Paul Geaney says he has no problem with Dublin’s cynicism.
“Look, they were trying to stop us kicking short no more than any other kick-out all day. They went a little further and dragged boys to the ground and stuff. It’s just smart. They stopped us from getting the ball. They kept it for the rest of the game. They won the game.”
— Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea.
“Fair play to Dublin for what they did. They manhandled their players, kicked away the thing. I would have no issue with players doing that, once you win the game.”
— Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy, at the Allianz Football League launch in January, compliments Dublin’s behaviour.
“There’s obviously a very strong correlation between Kevin’s commanding midfield and when we’re performing strongly. It was quite cynical in terms of what happened and the impact to his head when he was on the ground, but maybe that’s what the best teams do better than what we do.”
— Kildare manager Cian O’Neill claims Kevin Feely was the victim of a cynical challenge in their Division 1, Round 1 defeat to Dublin in January.
“I think that was great. I’d be looking at that as a positive sign, having watched Dublin do it in the All-Ireland final last year, having watched them against Galway last week after they had got the lead score and the same thing happened again. Dublin seem to be able to get away with it no problem. All of a sudden, Mayo try it and try to kill the game. There doesn’t seem to be any great issues when Dublin do it. All of a sudden, Mayo are the bad guys.”
— Former Mayo footballer Larry Finnerty backs up his county’s actions after levelling with Donegal last Sunday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved