Off the Fence: Partitionist GAA debate rumbles on
OFF THE FENCE
TYRONE'S All-Ireland U21 triumph is nearly two weeks old but the fall-out of their victory over Tipperary still rumbles on among our Off The Fence contributors. In last week's column there was a staunch defence of all things Ulster - and Tyrone - and we have another generous helping of northern nationalism in today. But we also have an alternative view from 'Tipperary Tim' who tries manfully to bring perspective to the debate over whether southern media bias exists.
'Tim' took issue with 'SB from Belfast'. Here's a reminder of what 'SB' said last week: "A partitionist, border mentality runs right through the Association and 26-county journalism like lettering from a stick of rock."
Here's what 'Tim' had to say: “I’d like to take serious issue with ‘SB from Belfast’ [last week’s contributor]. I don’t think there is bias from the southern media, definitely not. I would like to congratulate Tyrone for winning the All-Ireland U21 Football title.
“People are saying it was sour grapes from Tipperary, definitely not, because we’ve lost enough close encounters at senior level in hurling, so we’re used to it.
“Tyrone have had outstanding teams over the years and I always enjoyed watching Tyrone… but they didn’t have to resort to bad language or whatever.
“Anyway, listen, once again fair play to Tyrone, they’re a fantastic team and all the best. They’ve some great young players coming through. But get over this thing about the southern media, really and truly.”
RESPONSE: 'SB' from Belfast' is already crafting a response.
'MARY from Tyrone emailed her dismay at the perceived treatment of northern teams by the southern bleedin' meedja.
Mary writes: "I have been very glad to see sports articles in the Irish News which condemn the attitude in the southern media towards Ulster teams, particularly towards teams from the six counties.
"Without doubt, that can once again be narrowed down to teams from Tyrone. You cannot imagine the venom spewed out in Sligo at the Tyrone U21s and indeed, at Brian Dooher, from Roscommon supporters.
"As well as that, every single fisted pass from Tyrone was jeered loudly as 'typical northern football.' This, in spite of the fact that Roscommon fisted just as many."
'Mary added: "Let there be no doubt that there is a clear divide in the treatment of teams north and south... There is such a blatant begrudgery of the achievements of any team from Ulster and the saddest part of all this is that people who don't even attend the matches in question are willing to believe what is written and reported in the southern press.
"Regrettably this includes people from Ulster as well, who deride their own teams when they have not been there to see for themselves what goes on at these matches both in the stands and on the field.
"Add to this, the comments from the likes of Joe Brolly, who has done his level best to demean the achievements of such a hero as Sean Cavanagh and to draw attention to cynicism in Tyrone football, not to mention ultra-defensive tactics, when he could, if he had a mind to do so, examine the tactics and cynicism of many a team lauded for their great football and great footballers.
"There is most definitely a partitionist mentality in the GAA. Any team from Ulster must work twice as hard as teams from other provinces and even then, if victory can be denied at all, be certain that it will be so."
'D Hughes' emailed and appeared to take issue with Philip Jordan's column where the former Tyrone defender said of the All-Ireland U21 final: "Was there some cynical play? Yes, without a doubt. There were instances of time-wasting, players stopping the opposition taking quick frees, unnecessary fouls committed and some off the ball verbals. I don’t remember the last time I watched a game that didn’t have all of that."
'D Hughes replied: "Cynical play, time-wasting, stopping quick frees, off-the-ball verbals: is this that what our young footballers are being taught? Where are the qualities of sportsmanship, fair play, integrity, honesty, and honour gone to in our Gaelic Games?"
RESPONSE: Did they ever exist?
'OLD-TIMER' didn't take too kindly to the comments of 'John from Newry' in last week's Off The Fence where he ridiculed Tyrone football, calling the Red Hands' U21 victory a "tarnished triumph".
"As a Tyrone supporter and Down supporter in the 60s/70," writes 'Old-Timer', "I am so disappointed at John from Newry's Off The Fence statement last Thursday. Most of us in the north think one Joe Brolly is enough.
"RTE seem to have worked very hard at convincing people like this that Tyrone are more cynical than other counties and if you're small-minded enough to hate your neighbours more than others you will be easy to convince of this.
"We all know that if you're told black is white often enough some will eventually believe it, as John does. Please don't get me wrong I support games being judged fairly regardless of where they are from. The fact is all we want is fair play by media, supporters and referees and credit given where it is deserved. Well done Tyrone U21s – you’re a credit to your county."
'FRANK from Tyrone', thankfully, has moved on from the bitter fall-out of Parnell Park. 'Frank' reckons the Tyrone seniors have a ready-made full-back among the U21 side.
“I believe that Padraig Hamspey deserves a run-out in the Tyrone senior team," says 'Frank'. "He’s a great, strong lad. He’s great in the air and has great ability to mark the best players in any county. I think he deserves a chance. He’s been outstanding. He would match anybody in the county.”
RESPONSE: That's a fair enough call, Frank. The Coalisland clubman looks a super defender. If you're good enough, you're old enough. But you can understand the reticence of the senior management team in not throwing Hampsey in, particularly against Donegal's experienced forward line.
JOE Brolly's 'Clonoe Conundrum' idea got a fair airing, but one 'anonymous caller' left this message: “Just to remind Joe Brolly that the Clonoe manager [Damian Cassidy] is a Derryman and a former playing colleague of Joe’s.”
RESPONSE: True, but Joe is entitled to his opinion too.
'CJ' emailed to express his dismay with the Antrim senior hurling set-up after they were hammered by Westmeath in the Leinster SH round robin series last weekend.
'CJ writes: "Antrim face a fight to remain in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship? Here's hoping they won't - not this year, not next year, and not the year after. To score seven points against the hurling might of Westmeath is a huge embarrassment to Ulster hurling.
"Forget about Antrim - let Armagh, Tyrone, Donegal or Cavan represent Ulster in Leinster - at least they would hurl with a bit of passion and in all probability score more than seven points."