Colm Keys: Making melee charges stick will be difficult
Published 10/06/2014 | 02:30
The Armagh team that made the historic breakthrough to win the county's first All-Ireland senior title in 2002 had a particular fascination with Clive Woodward's England rugby team of the same era.
What appealed to the men in orange at that time was the attention to detail introduced by Woodward to make themselves the best team in the world.
You imagine the sheer bloodymindedness of Martin Johnson and company also appealed to them. They could perhaps have understood better than most why Johnson made his defiant stand on the red carpet in Lansdowne Road in 2003 for the championship decider.
Now, 11 years on, it is Armagh that are at the centre of a storm over pre-match pageantry regarding the positions they should take behind a band. But just as a defiant England won then, a defiant Armagh won this time. They will content themselves with the satisfaction of a 'job well done.'
The blame game over who should have stood where will ebb and flow between both counties. Traditionally a team marches behind its own flag but when Armagh captain Ciaran McKeever lined up behind the Cavan flag was it a case of making a statement more than a genuine mistake?
Cavan's decision to attempt to dislodge Armagh from the position merely poured petrol on the fire. They needed calm heads but instead sought confrontation and it seemed to weigh more heavily on them in the subsequent match.
What developed was disgraceful. Surely there is a duty to everyone involved to think of the broader image of the game they play and show that game greater respect.
The problem for the investigators is making any potential charges stick. Contributing to a melee is deemed a Category Three offence and carries a one-match ban but where do they draw a line over the amount of 'contributions' in this particular melee?
Nor is there likely to be much support for disrepute charges. For sure the game was brought into disrepute but, with far heavier penalties, that route may not be taken either. Unless video evidence is clear-cut, the potential for anyone missing action because of what happened is limited.