RTE editors and 'Four Cs' could have big say in Sam's new home
The 2011 All-Ireland football championship could well be decided in an editing suite in RTE. The editors will select some off-the-ball incidents for the evening news. There will be a follow-up on 'The Sunday Game'.
The next morning the papers will be full of after-shock. That evening the GAA, through the 'Four Cs', will announce an inquiry. A couple of days later, the players involved will be told they are banned for three months. And so the best footballers, who are usually the ones targeted by the opposition, are out of most of the championship.
Kerry were singled out last year. No doubt about that. The players in question were guilty as charged. I often wonder whether instead of hiring a psychologist, Kerry should hire a volcanologist. You just never know when we are going to erupt.
We can blame the 'Four Cs' all day long. Yes, they were selective in their application of sanctions. Yes, their deliberations are not open to public scrutiny. But we gave them the ammo. Kerry just have to learn to back down.
No one would consider it as cowardice to back off in such circumstances. In fact, sometimes turning the other cheek takes even more courage.
There is a huge onus on the officials. At the Kerry-Cork league match in February a linesman called the ref over and he sent off a Kerry player. I saw a Cork player, who had loads of previous, foul off the ball. The foul play wasn't difficult to spot, but the linesman who was on the same side of the pitch didn't pick it up.
The umpire did and the ref sent the Cork player off. Why didn't the linesman see what went on? You will have to ask him. Was he sanctioned? No one really knows that either because if you ask the GAA, they will not tell you.
Down, who beat Kerry last year, played football in that quarter-final, but there were a couple of appalling refereeing decisions.
Kerry are used to that. As Colm O'Rourke said, "Kerry, being Kerry, are expected to beat the refs as well". We know that here in Kerry, but we don't admit it in public.
Take the game against Cork in the league. As I saw it, Cork got two very soft frees to win the match. In my view, one free in particular was as soft as a barbequed 99.
Cork-born GAA president Christy Cooney was at the game. I was tempted to ask, "well Christy, what are you going to do about the reffing and the linesmanning?"
Two months later Cork pipped Kerry for a league final place.
There are many in Kerry who feel we are we are being made to pay for the Tadhg Kennelly-Nicholas Murphy clash in the 2009 final -- Kennelly subsequently admitted in his book that he had been out to nail Murphy.
Tadhg then said he didn't even read that part of the book and contradicted the statement.
Are they all 'agin' us then?
It may well be there is a subconscious movement relying only on telepathy for the uniformity of action and approach. Our subconscious is stronger than our rational thought.
The refs might possibly consider, through no fault of their own and with no bias aforethought of any conscious kind, that history somehow seeped in sleep into a decision-making process they had no control over.
As the late Jerome Murphy used to say to yours truly "you're a man of psychology, sociology, anthropology and a small touch of b****xology".
Refs are over-protected. Managers are suspended if they criticise refs, even if those criticisms are correct. The 'Four Cs' have never properly explained their decision-making process. No journalist has ever been allowed to monitor their deliberations.
Justice administered in secret is not justice. There has never been any explanation as to why certain incidents are prosecuted and more, which on the face of it are every bit as bad, are left go free.
The system is broke and no one within the GAA seems willing to fix it. The regulators have failed us yet again.
There has always been a tradition here in Kerry that you take your beating and exact revenge on the playing field the following year. Quite right too, but sometimes you have to break with tradition.
I know many will say 'ye have won enough'. That's not the point. Every game should be judged on an individual basis.
We had better stop right now. The vigilantes are everywhere. Technically, because I am member of the GAA, I can be suspended for criticising refs. We have a plan. I will go to games under cover. Down would have beaten Kerry even without the help of the 'Four Cs' last year. Kerry were a tired team. Down were fresh, and lest we forget, played some superb, fast football.
Down send the ball in by pony express. Most teams now send the ball in by push bike. Down were not slaves to tactics like many teams who hold on to possession as if there were scores awarded like in figure skating, with the judges holding up 5.9 cards.
Cork will go very close. Their forwards finally clicked last year. I didn't think they had it up front but they do and the All-Ireland win has given them increased confidence. Conor Counihan has grown into a very good manager. Cork have a huge team but can they waltz on sofa castors? Mobility in tight spaces with pressure applied relentlessly might cause them problems.
We promised our Dub friends we would not talk them up. So we will talk them down. They too will go close but not unless they mark man-to-man. Dublin have the forwards to win it.
Tyrone could win through if their young players are ready. Another year has passed and it's only a matter of time before Tyrone win another title.
So who is it to be? Down, Cork, Tyrone, Dublin, or Kerry? I fancy Down for betting purposes at 20/1. There's no better value.
On paper Cork will win. The only team who will beat Dublin are Dublin. Tyrone are the people's choice. We have enormous respect and affection for Mickey Harte, and who would begrudge Limerick and John Galvin a Munster title?
Kerry will be in the shake-up but only if their naughty bits end up on the cutting-room floor and we are forced to take the road less travelled.
Maybe we should throw the Munster Championship. Send out the Kerry seconds. Take the bookies for a nice touch.
Don't tell the 'Four Cs'.