GAA Football

Pat does his best to reclaim punditry crown from Brolly

Paddy Tierney

FEW pundits in the history of the GAA gained as much publicity as Joe Brolly did following his infamous rant following Tyrone's All-Ireland quarter-final win over Monaghan earlier this month.

However, the impossible happened in the RTE studios yesterday when Brolly was upstaged by Pat Spillane.

When the Kerryman suggested that Brolly offered Sean Cavanagh a "grovelling" apology for his outburst, Brolly replied: "act your age."

It was an indication of the juvenility that was to follow.

Perhaps Spillane was jealous that Brolly had stolen his mantle as the most controversial pundit in RTE.

Yet, the eight-time All-Ireland winner reclaimed that dubious honour with his own spectacular rant.

While Cavanagh's character was called onto question by Brolly three weeks ago, Spillane's comments were aimed squarely at Tyrone boss Mickey Harte. "In 2003 Mickey Harte came up with a template and said we'll get in their faces, we'll defend, we'll harass them, we won't let them play football on their terms," said Spillane in reference to the Tyrone's 2003 All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry. "But it was a watershed moment in gaelic football and I am not too sure it was for the better. What it did introduce from then on was it brought in defensive tactics as being the key to success. "Some of those defensive tactics were implemented by legitimate means, whether it was bringing bodies back, whether it was swarmed defence, blanket defence whether it was sweepers, whether it was double-teaming. "But an awful lot of those defensive systems since 2003 have also been implemented by illegal tactics. The illegal tactics is the off-the-ball fouling, the third-man tackle, the sledging. "I will say that, great, he (Harte) was innovative and he was modern but he brought in a defensive system to the game which I will say, and I will stand over it, that hasn't improved the game of football."

So there is it is. Mickey Harte is responsible for all the ills of the modern game according to Pat Spillane.

On the game itself, the pundits were agreed that Mayo's disputed second half penalty scored by man-of-the-match Alan Freeman was the turning point of the game as Mayo reached the All-Ireland decider with a 1-16 to 0-13 win over the Red Hands.

However, while Colm O'Rourke and Spillane believed that Dermot Carlin's challenge was committed outside the parallelogram, Brolly claimed "Mayo were entitled to get a wee break on this one" after Freeman had a goal disallowed in the first half.

At least we can look forward to some impartial punditry next Sunday when Dublin take on... Kerry.

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