Off The Fence: 'Tyrone need to learn some manners'
MANNERS are easy carried but seldom put on footballers now the way they used to be.
You rarely see rows these days like Mayo v Meath or Louth v Laois or the 2003 meeting of Drum under-14s and Claudy, when the row spilled out on to the road after 20 minutes.
In an era of uber-discipline, you daren’t lift a hand in dissent or you risk the line and leaving your team-mates to play piggy-in-the-middle while the opposition olé their way to victory (see the recent All-Ireland club final).
By modern standards, some of Sunday’s acts in Healy Park would go in the box labelled ‘shenanigans’.
One ‘Anonymous’ caller to Off the Fence feels that it’s time Mickey Harte taught some of his players a good, old-fashioned lesson.
“Just reading about Cillian O’Connor getting an awful blow against Tyrone on Sunday. What was wrong Harry Loughran didn’t get a black card for that, or maybe a red one? Even after the match, with the brawl, I think it’s time Mickey Harte took those players to one side and learned them a wee bit of manners.
“You wouldn’t see that any place other than Tyrone. It’s time they learned manners some place because they haven’t got manners. They’re the worst team in Ireland for all the badness of the day.”
CO’K: I think there were enough bad manners fired around by Dublin and Kerry the weekend before to disprove that theory. Don't we all love a bit of badness, really?
Another contribution to the phone lines, which always seem to hop the hardest when Tyrone have lost, wasn’t impressed with the Red Hands’ attitude to naming their starting line-up.
Traditionally they’ve been one of the better counties in terms of not making 22 changes from the programme on a weekly basis, but it has slipped into their recent psyche.
‘Tyrone caller’ rang on Saturday to complain about it ahead of the game with Mayo, and then rang back on Sunday evening to give himself a verbal pat on the back.
“Following yesterday’s call, what did I say about Mickey Harte making changes before a match? He doesn’t know his team from Thursday to Sunday.
“Too many handballers on the team and not enough footballers. I hope they didn’t get any money for boots, because they don’t need them.”
CO’K: Oh but you need rugby boots with six-inch studs to play in Omagh. Because, ye know, it’s always soaking.
‘John from Cookstown’ was unimpressed by the physical stature of the Red Hand forwards in their one-point defeat by Mayo.
“I’ve been following Tyrone for 40 years and I’ve never seen a team as well bullied as the team that was pushed over on Sunday. The forward line has got that small, it’s unbelievable to think the size of some of the men we have in Tyrone that we’re getting pushed over and knocked down.”
CO’K: Two words: Peter Canavan.
Moving on to matters Antrim, and ‘North Belfast Gael’ was in touch regarding the scheduling of club league games against the county’s crunch final National Football League clash with Longford.
“On Monday past I noticed posts on various social media outlets requesting fans coming out to support Antrim in their crucial Division 3 football game this weekend at home to Longford at Corrigan Park.
“One major fatal flaw in this 'call to arms' is the fact that no less than 14 County League games (Division 3 Senior and Division 1 and 2 Senior Reserve) are scheduled for either a 2.30pm or 3pm throw-in on Sunday afternoon, depriving club players and supporters alike the chance to cheer on the Saffrons against Longford.
“For this to occur is ridiculous and shows a complete disregard for both club players and supporters. No doubt the Antrim County Board will say if clubs feel that strongly about it then they should ask for their game to be re-scheduled or the throw-in time changed but this shouldn't have to be the case.
“If the County Board want people to come out and lend their support then they should at least give everyone the same opportunity to do so.”
CO’K: It’s always easy to pin blame back on clubs for a lack of foresight, but they aren’t the ones armed with the inter-county fixtures when they’re drawing up their club programmes. The sooner club games are all on a Saturday evening, the better.
Following on from last week’s praise of Armagh and Kieran McGeeney, ‘Dermot from Portadown’ has caught on that positivity sells, but he’d love to see a few ‘old’ faces return.
“I’m really excited this year watching Armagh play. They look a lot fitter, more physical and the ball is played in quicker.
“While we have sum great young players coming through I can’t help feel if we had the likes of Tony and Aaron Kernan come back for just couple more seasons it could actually be the difference in winning Ulster.
“They have so much to give and still playing as well as ever. I’m sure a meeting with Down in Newry in the Championship could entice them back. We have a very good young team and there experience would help so much. Come back guys.”
CO’K: Imagine that inside forward line that’s doing all this damage was being peppered by ball in from those two again.