Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 19 September 2014

Zero tolerance the only way to stamp out flashpoints

Eoin Liston

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

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Meath's Mickey Burke hauls Eoghan O'Gara of Dublin away after the two clashed in an off-the-ball incident during the Leinster SFC final. Photo: Ashleigh Fox / SPORTSFILE
Meath's Mickey Burke hauls Eoghan O'Gara of Dublin away after the two clashed in an off-the-ball incident during the Leinster SFC final. Photo: Ashleigh Fox / SPORTSFILE

It's time for the GAA authorities to really stand up and make a statement regarding the biting allegation from Sunday's Leinster final. For too long things have been brushed under the carpet, and I've noticed a bit of that going on over the last couple of days.

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Once a player has been bitten, or has made such a claim, a full and thorough investigation must be carried out. This is not black and white by any stretch of the imagination. I've seen footage of the incident, and watched it numerous times, yet still I can't make my mind up.

Eoghan O'Gara was certainly under intense pressure and the amount of Meath lads having a go at him while he was still on the ground means the human instinct to defend yourself will naturally kick in.

Sometimes, a reflex action makes you do things you'd never dream of doing normally. The bottom line is that players must be made to explain their actions.

If it's shown that Burke's finger was in O'Gara's mouth, what was it doing there? Again, it's not clear, from what I saw, if he fish-hooked or not, but that would be the case for the defence. The Meath man must also be made accountable for his role, and answer any case that may be made against him.

I have played and been involved in Gaelic football for years and years and I never bit nor was I ever bitten. I most certainly never felt the need to stick my fingers in somebody else's mouth either, and it was never done to me. They are both disgusting acts.

Similarly, however, it's time for managers to publicly acknowledge when one of their team step over the line. I would hope that we have moved away from the days of managers and officials blatantly lying to disciplinary meetings in order to get players off various offences. It can't be ignored that this is the third such allegation against Dublin under Jim Gavin.

He strikes me as an extremely moral individual, and his teams certainly bring great pride and style to our games.

At the moment, they are the team everyone wants to copy. Hopefully, Gavin will condemn such behaviour if it is found that O'Gara did anything wrong.

And again, I would expect Mick O'Dowd to do the same if Mickey Burke is guilty of any offence.

We must be careful and protect the values of our games. Look at soccer and how quickly the culture has changed. Watch a Premier League game from even 10 years ago and compare it to what we see now. They are world's apart in terms of the gamesmanship and diving. It's because the authorities didn't do enough to stamp out such rubbish when it began to creep in.

Now it's gone to the stage where it is almost seen as acceptable behaviour and 'part of the game'.

I must stress this is not anti-Dublin. Every single county, including my own, has had players who have done abhorrent acts on the field.

Thankfully, they are usually isolated and the association has moved a long way in terms of how it deals with discipline issues.

Let's hope this matter is sorted out in the correct manner so players and managers alike know that such acts will not be tolerated.

Irish Independent

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