See no evil hear no evil
Silence of CCCC over recent controversies has again opened the debate about just how much influence TV has on GAA disciplinary matters
Published 01/03/2011 | 05:00
Wayne Rooney escaped a three-match ban yesterday after elbowing Wigan's James McCarthy in the back of the head during Manchester United's 4-0 win on Saturday.
When contacted by the English FA, referee Mark Clattenburg felt that the free-kick he awarded against Rooney at the time was sufficient punishment for the striker.
So that's it then. Rooney is free to play against Chelsea tonight and subsequent fixtures coming up in a busy schedule. Once the official was satisfied that he hadn't made a mistake by not sending Rooney off, no further action could be taken. For right or for wrong, the matter is dead.
Will the same good fortune befall Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara and Kerry's Marc O Se this week as their altercation at the very end of last Saturday night's entertaining match at Croke Park comes under the spotlight?
If it doesn't, and the pair are pursued for their tangle, then Kerry and Dublin have every right to rise up in anger, not because what happened doesn't merit an investigation but because of the potential imbalance of a system that chose not to pursue incidents in the previous weekend's matches.
Tyrone defender Ryan McMenamin was lucky to avoid further sanction for catching Donegal defender Paddy McGrath in the midriff with a stray boot in Omagh on the Saturday night, the same night that Cork's Pearse O'Neill swung back with his right arm and then kicked out at O'Gara on the ground as Bernard Brogan swung away from the action to set up Barry Cahill for Dublin's third goal.
The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) did not meet last week and maybe they are being done a disservice by the suggestion that they were not interested in at least taking a second opinion from the officials involved, in O'Neill's case David Coldrick and in McMenamin's case Pat Fox.
That much won't be officially divulged because it's policy, even if it would be much more helpful for players and counties alike to know what the CCCC's modus operandi actually is.
However, it's most unlikely that referees of their experience and intolerance of indiscipline would allow clips of what happened to pass without giving the go-ahead for some action. As it was, O'Neill was free to play on Sunday and helped himself to five points against Monaghan.
Significantly, Setanta, who broadcast the Tyrone versus Donegal game live on the previous Saturday night, didn't dwell on the McMenamin incident afterwards. There was little time left on the transmission and maybe little appetite too.
On RTE's 'League Sunday' programme the following night, there was no reference either to McMenamin or O'Neill. And last Sunday night, while the O'Gara/O Se flashpoint was shown, there was no subsequent comment. Maybe time was a factor there too or maybe the appetite in Donnybrook for disciplinary issues, after a stormy summer, has also faded there for now.
On the basis of last week's evidence, the CCCC may just have adopted a 'see no evil, hear no evil' approach that has set a dangerous template for the months ahead. If the state broadcaster and the rights broadcaster choose not to give either incident a mention then it's best to leave well enough alone?
It certainly gives oxygen to the argument presented in Kerry and many other outlets last summer as to the perceived influence TV has in these matters. The acceptance by both Tomas O Se and Paul Galvin of retrospective punishments dished out by the CCCC justified any comment by 'The Sunday Game' team at the time.
But last week's apparent (again we can't say for certain if the respective referees were contacted on the relevant incidents despite asking) reluctance to act has called into action the way the disciplinary body operates.
"Do they look at every game in full and decide what incidents need to be reviewed? Or are they guided by what happens on 'The Sunday Game'?" asked Kerry chairman Jerome Conway last summer after O Se was handed a four-week suspension following an upgrade of his yellow card against Limerick in the Munster football final.
"The CCCC is part of our disciplinary process. 'The Sunday Game' is not. Again it is something I am curious about and would love to know how these decisions are made," added Conway.
The CCCC had a tough time of it last year. They set their stall out early by hauling in four players from the Derry/Tyrone NFL fixture for incidents that referee Pat McEnaney, when pressed to reflect, either missed or did not deal with correctly.
Three Tyrone players were subsequently suspended, drawing an angry reaction from Mickey Harte at the time.
Harte floated the idea of banning cameras from Healy Park in future because, he argued, the television exposure was making his players more vulnerable to retrospective punishment than those players playing at venues where there were no cameras.
He led the calls for a level playing field in that regard, that all matches should be suitably scrutinised and that the CCCC could not be selective about how they review matches.
The Galvin and O Se suspensions also irked Kerry, not because they weren't justified but because of the perception of imbalance they had when others escaped without sanction.
The silence of last week has left the CCCC in a bind now over O'Gara and O Se. Pursue it and the question of imbalance will justifiably be raised again. Ignore it and they leave themselves open to the old 'TV setting the agenda' argument.