Friday 21 October 2016

'I could have sat back and said nothing' - Ciaran Whelan defends Sunday Game analysis

Published 01/09/2015 | 21:18

Philly McMahon, Dublin, tussles with Aidan O'Shea, Mayo
Philly McMahon, Dublin, tussles with Aidan O'Shea, Mayo

The Sunday Game pundit Ciaran Whelan has defended his analysis of controversial incidents involving Dublin players during a tetchy All-Ireland semi-final.

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Jim Gavin's side will take on Mayo in Saturday's replay for the right to face Kerry in the decider and there will be increased scrutiny on the match officials after a nasty undercurrent in last weekend's fixture.

While there were a catalogue of incidents from both sides, which included black cards for Michael Darragh Macauley and Denis Bastick, Whelan faced criticism in some quarters for his refusal to condemn Dublin players involved in a number of controversial moments.

Jonny Cooper's rash challenge in the first half and Philly McMahon's fall to the ground where the appeared to be little contact from an opponent were highlighted as talking points where pundit could have taken a harder line during television analysis.

"You are going to be in headlines whether you like it or not, that is the nature of the beast," he conceded on Newstalk's Off The Ball programme tonight when discussing The Sunday Game coverage.

"People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

“We don’t have ice flowing through us. We all have blood flowing through us.

“We’re all loyal to our own counties whether we like it or not, that is a natural instinctive thing within us all. We are there to be objective and RTE put structure sin place to look at those scenarios.

"I was critical of Dublin the other night and I have come under fire from some Dublin supporters who felt I didn't defend them enough at then we have the other end of the scale where people felt I went soft on them."

While Whelan reiterated his opinion that Cooper "isn't that type of player", he did say the corner back was lucky to remain on the pitch after making contact with his studs on Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor.

"It was a really bad tackle. It was a red card. I could have said back and said nothing about it and let one of the lads take it, but it isn't in his [Cooper] nature.

The two-time All Star said he "really couldn't be conclusive" on Bastick's trip that saw his involvement in the semi-final come to an end.

"My comment was only Dennis could know it if was deliberate or not. His body flipped and did he catch him deliberately or accidentally?

The Herald columnist refuted suggestions that he was harder on Tyrone's Tiernan McCann for his dive against Monaghan as he felt the incident involving McMahon on Sunday was different.

"I was critical of Philly McMahon and I said it was unacceptable. The extent of the incident was slightly different.

"They are not like for like.

"I was probably particularly harsh on Tiernan McCann but I was equally hard on Philly McMahon."

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