Off The Fence

Who is in the dock: Diarmuid Connolly or the CCCC?

Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly has been hit with a "harsh" 12-week ban

WHO would want to be a member of the Central Competitions Controls Committee [CCCC]? They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

In fairness, they made a rod for their own back after the way in which they tried to send down Matthew Fitzpatrick of Antrim – and failed.

So, right from the start, we’re dealing with a disciplinary body with credibility issues. What makes matters worse is that it’s a high-profile Dublin player in the dock now.

Last Saturday night, the Dublin forward laid a hand on linesman Ciaran Branagan of Down in their Leinster SFC win over Carlow.

The CCCC issued Connolly with a 12-week ban that effectively rules him out until the All-Ireland semi-final.

Who knows, Connolly may have kicked his last ball for Dublin this year.

It begs the question: Does the punishment fit the crime?

‘DONAL’ thinks Connolly has been harshly treated and that common sense – as it always is in the GAA - was sorely lacking in the whole case.

“The incident involving an ‘altercation’ between Diarmuid Connolly and a linesman during last Saturday’s game between Dublin and Carlow raises a few interesting points of debate…

“The great players of our generation (Diarmuid Connolly, Gooch Cooper, Aidan O'Shea, Michael Murphy, Sean Cavanagh and Jamie Clarke - to name a few) are regularly targeted by at least one fairly robust defender.

“The tactics used would be a combination of foul play, off-the-ball antics and ‘sledging’.

“Gaelic football is a game played by manly men and the idea of players unable to compete with these "greats" of the game using unfair means to stop them playing does not settle easily on my shoulders.

“I often wonder how these players look at themselves and their performances in the days after big games…

“The Diarmuid Connolly controversy has been analysed and judged by The Sunday Game panel and they concur that the issue is clearcut, under Rule 5.

“Is there any rule in the handbook which is clear-cut? How many times in recent years have we seen decisions reversed, overturned or the penalty reduced?

“In my opinion it is blatantly wrong to suggest that because Evan Comerford and Kieran McGeeney got 12 weeks for the "same" offence, therefore Diarmuid must automatically get 12 weeks.

“Every infraction of a rule must surely be judged by its own particular set of circumstances on the day. There must always be room for the use of common sense and discretion in determining the the intent and the result.

“Diarmuid felt that Dublin should have been awarded a line ball. When he turned to approach the linesman he was being man-handled by three Carlow players.

“Connolly should not be tried because of his reputation.

“To talk about banning him for 12 weeks where there is clearly room for doubt over the severity of his actions is both unfair and unsporting.

“A 12-week ban would see him missing potential All Ireland semi-final. Is this a proper and appropriate punishment for a single moment of ill-discipline? I think not.

“I am bound to add I agree that referees and linesmen must be protected by the rules. However, I reaffirm my view that the linesman on this particular occasion was not "pushed". Moreover the linesman did not have a problem with Diarmuid Connolly's actions as he did not see fit to report it to the referee. Well done linesman for applying common sense!”

What recent history has taught us is that the GAA’s disciplinary procedures need to be overhauled.

In an interview with The Irish News, Joe Brolly highlighted the disciplinary emphasis in the GAA is all wrong.

He posed the questions: “Is it serious enough to prosecute? Is the evidence clear-cut? Is it necessary for us to act in this case? Is there good reason to act? And the problem is that doesn’t happen.”

When discretion and common sense don’t feature at any juncture in the process, Connolly gets rough justice.


‘RED Hand Fan’ is mystified as to why Tyrone’s RTE ban continues. He/She thinks it’s time to bury the hatchet.

“Conall McCann had a great game at midfield [against Derry] and I was delighted to see him selected as man-of-the-match,” writes ‘Red Hand Fan’.

“However, the all too brief fleeting presentation didn't allow Conall any time to express himself on our premier GAA programme.

“When is this impasse going to end and what purpose is it serving anyone now? It’s time for some Christian forgiveness from Mickey and let players and assistant managers represent the county on the national media if he can’t bring himself to forgive the RTE reporter. Time to bury the hatchet and move on, boys.”

Without being furnished with all the details of RTE’s approaches to Mickey Harte and the Tyrone team over the TV station’s well-documented faux pas, it’s perhaps wrong to suggest that Tyrone are the ones who need to “bury the hatchet”.


MICKEY Harte stands accused, or so says ‘Tyrone Caller’ who left this message: “Mickey Harte still doesn’t know his strongest team. Four subs came on in the last 15 minutes against Derry and scored seven points – a third of their total – and they still need a reliable free-taker. Lee Brennan might be the answer.”

AND now to one of our regular contributors, ‘Dermot from Portadown’ who, judging by his series of emails, could not make his mind up who to blame in Armagh for losing to Down last Sunday.

“How many times have supporters built up Armagh only for the team to let them down?” emailed ‘Dermot’.

“When are Armagh going to inject a bit of pace and go for points instead of trying for goals?”


A LITTLE while later, 'Dermot' returned to his lap-top.

“Congrats to Down. I thought [Darragh] O’Hanlon and [Caolan] Mooney were very good building a lot of attacks with pace something Armagh do not have.

“Also, ‘Soupy’ Campbell needs to be played closer to goal. His confidence has been affected by playing further out the field… I can’t see Armagh doing anything this summer. They’re so lacking in confidence.”


‘DERMOT’ wasn’t finished yet. He went back to his lap-top later that evening.

“It is so frustrating being an Armagh supporter because in every game we dominate possession and kick wide after wide.

“Also, when you consider that in every match this season Armagh have played with refs who award frees to the opposition for the slightest touch and yet Armagh forwards like Jamie Clarke get dragged and pulled and nothing is done. It’s time it was flagged up. Referees are anti-Armagh.”

And that was the last sighting of Dermot, until next week.


‘LURGAN Orangewoman’ is nothing but succinct. She said: “I lost all hope for Armagh when Joe Brolly started talking us up.”

Couldn’t agree more, Lurgan Orangewoman. I ripped my bookies docket up before Conor Lane threw the ball in last Sunday.


'Erneman in Armagh City' isn't happy with our Championship coverage this season.

"This year The Irish News had over pages on Fermanagh versus Monaghan, five pages on Donegal versus Antrim, and six pages on the nonsense football served up by Tyrone versus Derry. Ridiculous amount of coverage of pathetic games and performances.

Thanks to the BBC for their coverage of the Ulster Championship over the years, but I never thought I would say this: 'Stop the coverage'.

"It is embarrassing to watch with commentators and pundits trying to boost the games by using phrases such as "fantastic score", and "brilliant skill".

"I used to say to my non-Gaelic playing friends that there was more excitement in one half of a Gaelic Championship match than the whole of the matches in the Irish League or the English Premiership. How wrong is this now."

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Off The Fence