Brolly blasts Tyrone bluffers
Whatever you say about Joe Brolly, right, he’s never afraid to stick his neck out and he doesn’t take prisoners when it comes to expressing his firmly-held beliefs. If it offends somebody, what the heck - and that goes for big names in the sport to which he’s making reference. And you’d be foigiven for assuming that the bigger the name, the more he enjoys it!
Take his column in the weekend’s Irish Mail on Sunday, for example. I’d imagine he would be more than a little friendly with every single one of the star players who have won three all-Ireland titles for the O’Neill county. But they’ll definitely not thank him for the mentions he gives them this week.
The Derryman is a well-heeled barrister and I’m certain that he is confident he has kept within the law, but I would not be surprised if there will be a few people reading his column who will maybe be left wondering!
The article is entitled ‘There was a time when football was played by real men’ and he opens it with a mention of an incident in the 1972 All-Ireland Hurling Final when Kilkenny were in dire straits as they trailed Cork by eight points and Eddie Keher took ‘a ferocious belt of a hurl to his unguarded face’.
He went on: ‘Undaunted, he soloed through and fired home a remarkable goal. He turned and went back to his position, his face a mask of blood from the deep gash over his eye. The stitches could wait. By the final whistle, he had 2-9 to his name and Kilkenny were champions by seven points’.
Brolly then goes on to mention other similar instances before opining: ‘Hurlers are men of honour. They zealously guard their dignity. Neither I nor anyone else in RTE’s sports department can recall an instance of a hurler feigning injury to get an opponent carded. It doesn’t happen.
‘The same cannot be said of gaelic football, however. A joke in Ulster a few years ago was: Q. Why do hurlers not feign injury. A. Because Tyrone don’t play hurling.
‘At the 2002 soccer World Cup, Brazil’s Rivaldo was waiting for the ball to take a corner against Turkey. Hans Unsal, a Turkish player, kicked it towards him as Rivaldo looked the other way. The ball struck the Brazilian below the kneww. He dropped to the turf clutching his face and then writhed in agony until the referee gave a red card to the hapless Unsal.
‘We laughed and smugly shook our heads, certain such dishonourable behaviour would never deface our game. We’re not laughing now. The following year, Tyrone’s bandwagon rolled into town and the virus of feigning injury infected the game.
‘In the Ulster Championship first round replay against Derry, Sean Cavanagh and Derry’s Padraig O’Kane ran across each other near the sideline. Cavanagh went down clutching his face. O’Kane was sent off, A slow motion replay revealed no contact.
‘In the Ulster Final a month later, Down’s Gregory McCartan had a free awarded against him and petulantly tossed the ball towards Brian McGuigan, who went down hard, hands glued to his face. Another red card.
‘In that year’s All-Ireland semi-final versus Kerry, Peter Canavan got Mike McCarthy booked in the eight minute in a shocking incident since immportalised on YouTube (See Peter Canavan hits the deck, viewed 2858 times).
‘In a break in play, McCarthy was standing, arms outstretched, with his back to Canavan who ran from behind into his arm and went to ground clutching his face. McCarthy was yellow-carded. Cnavan dived so much that year, a cartoon appeared of him in the internet in his Tyrone kit, wearing a snorkel and flippers.
‘The lowest point came in the final when Philip Jordan ran into Armagh’s Diarmuid Marsden off the ball and went down in anguish, cradling his jaw. The referee was conned and Marsden was dismissed.
‘When Central Council reviewed video footage, they revoked the red card and cleared the Armagh man. In his autobiography, Joe Kernan’s outrage waa still palpable. He wrote of “being disgusted by the actions of at least one Tyrone player who mockingly clapped Diarmuid off”. The video is on YouTube.
‘Afterwards, Marsden - a man of integrity - was distraught that his daughter, when she grew up, would find out that her father had been sent off in an All-Ireland Final. As Kernan remarked after the red card was revoked: “Thankfully, at least a good man’s name was cleared”.
That, though, didn’t stop the feigning of injury. Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh did for Derry’s James Conway in this year’s McKenna Cup Final. There was no contact between them but Cavanagh, all 6’3” and 15 stone of him, went down in agony. Conway was red-carded. The CHC rescinded it when they watched the video and realised the referee had been had. It’s commonplace.’
Brolly went on to cite a few other instances before reminding that he had said seven days earlier on TV that it is a disgrace disfiguring the game, remarking that his mention of Fonal Vaughan taking on the role of ham actor provoking a massive wave of protest from Mayo folk ‘which tells you all you need to know about how the ethos of gaelic football has changed’.
The legal eagle then concludes with this: ‘My cousin John (McGuckin), plays fullback for Dungannon RFC. He tells me that anyone feigning injury in rugby to get an opponent carded would be ostracised by team-mates and club members. It used to be like this in our game, but not any longer. Not only is it acceptable, it’s now unacceptable to criticise the practice. Sadly, men no longer win football All-Irelands.’
So, there you have it! Is it fair comment or very harsh and tarnishing the names of great Gaels, or perhaps somewhere in between the two. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds. But I’ll bet there are a lot of people who are not happy with Mr.Brolly.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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