Oisín McConville: GAA stars too sensitive to criticism

Armagh football legend Oisín McConville has claimed that GAA players and managers are “so sensitive” and need to learn to take criticism better.

Analysts including Pat Spillane are regularly berated for comments they make on programmes like The Sunday Game. But McConville, a pundit himself, said he’s surprised by how thin skinned those who receive the criticism can be.

“You have to be honest, you have to call it as you see it,” said McConville. “Does it go too far?

“It’s very difficult to know what you can say anymore. We’re fuckin so sensitive within the GAA. It’s actually scary.

“It’s very difficult to know what you can say anymore. It’s gone so sterile in the analysis and yet you wouldn’t think that.

“I do think we get a little bit sensitive around it.

“Even going back to when I started playing, you just took it on the chin, you shut your mouth and you go on with it. You used it as fuel for the next day or whatever it was.

“I got a couple of lashings and at the time I wouldn’t have liked it, and it would have annoyed me, but I wouldn’t have been commenting on it.

“I just would have used it to try to get more out of myself in training or in a match. This thing about us jumping on everything that’s said, people are entitled to say these things.”

Kerry icon Spillane was slated by Dublin boss Jim Gavin for his comments about Diarmuid Connolly’s clash with a linesman in Portlaoise last month.

McConville, a goalscorer in the 2002 All-Ireland final, reckons that Gavin only hit out at Spillane to drum up a siege mentality in the current All-Ireland champions’ camp.

“I definitely think that was the case with Dublin,” said the Crossmaglen man. “Dublin don’t do anything by accident. There are no accidents when it comes to what Dublin produce from a media point of view.

“You can’t tell me that with Dublin’s preparation, and the amount of people they have in that backroom team, and everything looking to be nigh on perfect, that Jim Gavin comes out with that off the cuff.

“I’ve said it before, I think it was manufactured. Well, maybe not manufactured but it was very deliberate. I think they’ll use that.

“Dublin, I suppose, are slightly different to everybody else in that they don’t need to rely on that sort of stuff because they have a lot of other things going for them.

“But, definitely, if people think that was a slip of the tongue or something, that’s not the way it was.”

McConville said that Connolly can’t feel too sorry for himself after picking up a 12-week ban for placing his hand on a linesman’s chest last month.

“By the letter of the law, Connolly was not that harshly done by in that those are the rules,” McConville said.

“He has benefited from the other side of the rules on a number of occasions, in particular when he hit a Donegal player in 2011.

“He shouldn’t have been playing in that year’s All-Ireland final, simple as that. And yet we’ll defend it because we’ll say, ‘no young lad deserves to miss out’. But you deserve to miss out, if you hit somebody a punch in the face, you deserve to miss out on an All-Ireland final.”

McConville believes that Connolly, who has consistently picked up yellow, red and black cards during this career, may finally change his ways.

“I think this one seems to have really resonated with Dublin and with all the publicity I think this could be his time to change,” McConville said.


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