Off the Ball: Provokers deserve to get a bit back
There is GAA justice and there is what is just. Midway through the first half of Mayo v Tyrone on Saturday, Aidan O'Shea scrapped for possession in among several Tyrone players.
Ball in hand, he was awarded a free but promptly received more treatment from his fellow Gaels, which culminated in Niall Sludden charging at him.
O'Shea gave Sludden as good as he got. The Tyrone man suddenly lost those faculties for balance which he had demonstrated so brilliantly just moments earlier. O'Shea towered over him and the referee's whistle sounded again; hop ball. Tyrone won possession and scored a point. It was nonsensical.
And there were numerous instances, where O'Shea received off the ball treatment from a variety of Tyrone players. He lost the ball at one stage and was barged and kneed and lorded over.
None of it physically hurt him, but it's bloody annoying, and worse, it is tolerated.
But here's the big problem. Should the target react to the jibes, he is punished instantly.
'He shouldn't have reacted' is the common refrain around O'Shea and Diarmuid Connolly.
Well, hang on a second; if we're seriously not going to stop the initial offences, then maybe he is entitled to react?
Maybe if Niall Sludden charges at Aidan O'Shea, he's allowed stand his ground and shoulder him back and everybody just gets on with it?
Currently, the dice are loaded. You can slap, chest, dig or knee a marquee player throughout a game and stay on the right side of the law. And the bonus is that any reaction back draws roars from the crowd and referee intervention.
Next time you hear somebody say 'he shouldn't have reacted', maybe take note of the initial offence. Maybe he's within his rights to react and give a bit back. Maybe the other fella deserved it.
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