Off The Fence

Off The Fence: Readers find clouds on a Sky Blue day

He'll hardly care now that he has his hands on Sam Maguire, but the timewasting tactics of Dublin's Stephen Cluxton in Sunday's All-Ireland final were a major talking point. Picture: Colm O'Reilly
Cahair O'Kane

THAT’S it for another year.

Sunday taught us not to play the All-Ireland final in Ireland any more. Far too wet. The GAA had it right in 1947. New York again next year, anyone?

It also taught us that Dublin are the best team in Ireland. They adapted to the conditions and adapted to Kerry’s attacking style by outmuscling them.

And then, when they had the game won, they wasted time. Nothing different from any team in the land would do.

Most of it was legal. But the debate after the game centred on whether Philly McMahon deliberately gouged Kieran Donaghy’s eye towards the end, and how Stephen Cluxton suddenly appeared to lose the use of his legs when there were frees to be taken in the last 15 minutes.

‘Pat from Bangor’, like most the rest of the country, wasn’t impressed with the Dublin goalkeeper’s time-wasting antics.

“Sunday's was probably not the best All-Ireland we have ever seen [there’s an understatement] and certainly did not live up to the ‘dream’ final we were led to expect. But it has to be said that Dublin not only had the game plan to win but mastered what were extremely challenging conditions much better than Kerry. So let me start by congratulating them as deserved winners.

“But (and isn't there always a but) surely I am not the only one outside of Kerry who found the antics of Dublin free taking very frustrating. Having watched Cluxton make his leisurely way up the field to take a couple of frees, I timed the next at 1 minute 15 seconds from the referee's whistle to kick being taken. And not to mention the pantomime near the end of the game when Cluxton was called forward, sent back and then forward again.

Surely the game is about play time [I hope you mean playing time…?]. Perhaps the GAA needs to look at this and either impose a time limit during which the free including kick outs must be taken, for example, within 20 seconds or stop the clock as in rugby. Either would have the advantage of ensuring we actually see 70 minutes of football and not watching a goalkeeper being called forward to the frustration of the opposition and spectator alike, not to mention the suspicion of time wasting.”

An ‘Anonymous’ caller also took issue with the champions’ skipper.

“I find it unbelievable that a well set-up and financially strong team like Dublin have a captain and goalkeeper in Stephen Cluxton that can’t decide who’s going to take frees. It’s embarrassing that a man of Cluxton’s experience should be standing with his arms out as if he didn’t know what to do. I’m wondering is it a bit of play-acting?”

CO’K: As Kenny Archer alluded to in his column yesterday, introducing a ‘shot clock’ is a long overdue measure. The problem with implementing a shot-clock is that you can’t have one long enough to allow a ‘keeper to come up. If you impose a 45-second limit on a free, you’ll have every free in the last 10 minutes of a game taking 45 seconds as the ref could not then legally blow it up for delaying the free. The shot-clock would have to be no more than 25 or 30 seconds, at the very outside.

Our next caller, ‘Anonymous’, was more unhappy with the alleged gouging of Kieran Donaghy by Philly McMahon.

“I would like to comment on the All-Ireland final on Sunday and the actions of Philly McMahon. Surely to God The Sunday Game on RTÉ on Sunday night should have been able to condemn what Mr. McMahon did on the day. It was a disgrace. It brings the GAA into disrepute. It’ll be very interesting to see what the CCCC do now to Mr. McMahon. I’m a Derry man but I’m sure if that had been a Tyrone player, they would have been handed a suspension. Mr. McMahon tried to come out yesterday morning and say it was an accident? He needs to look at the video.”

CO’K: The video evidence certainly does not look good for the Dublin man. You have to ask though, what good would handing him a suspension now do? He’d only end up missing the first round or two of the National League, which most of the All-Ireland winning team probably won’t play in anyway. But sure Paraic Duffy thinks the disciplinary system is fine....

The other big talking point of the past week has been the reappointment of Tyrone manager Mickey Harte on a two-year deal.

While most Tyrone fans appeared happy enough, and at the very least unsurprised, ‘Sean from Omagh’ wasn’t as keen on the news.

“I was a Tyrone supporter all my life but I certainly won’t be supporting Tyrone any more, until Mickey Harte goes. He’s done enough over the years. He’s won three All-Irelands and Ulster medals, but there’s a time for going and Mickey should go. I think he’s being very selfish and greedy. He sees a new crop of players coming up and he wants to be part of all that. James McCartan left down, Breslin left Cliftonville – there’s a time for going. Does he not realise that? I’ll certainly not be supporting Tyrone until he goes anyway.”

CO’K: I’m sure Mickey and the Tyrone players will miss your unstinting loyalty and support for your county.

‘Quidnunc’ also questions why the Tyrone county board didn’t push against the ongoing impasse with RTÉ.

“So it’s official - Mickey Harte is to manage Tyrone for another two years. Was it really ever in doubt? All the carefully choreographed expressions of support from the players and Mickey’s interviews with various papers seemed to be designed to put pressure on the Co Board to rubber stamp the appointment without any discussion on other issues. Have any of your reporters asked the relevant people whether the RTÉ impasse has been resolved? I find it hard to believe that some honest broker hasn’t attempted to mediate between RTÉ and Mickey. Of course this would require both parties to be willing to compromise. As a Club Tyrone member, I would expect straight answers to these questions before long.”

CO’K: I did ask last week – “the players will not be stopped from speaking to RTÉ” was the answer. In other words, it’s as you were.

Off The Fence

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