Sport

Thursday 29 September 2016

Paul Kimmage: It's no wonder there are players who think so little of the media

Published 24/07/2016 | 17:00

Diarmuid Connolly clashes with Dolan
Diarmuid Connolly clashes with Dolan
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The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There's a truth in your eyes saying you'll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you'll catch me wherever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

Ronan Keating,

'When you say nothing at all'

Jim McGuinness is a man of many talents but it was obvious from the moment I set eyes on him last week that golf isn't one of them. It was the shoes, the shirt, the slicked-back hair and the three-quarter length, grey wool coat that gave it away. Who comes to the Open on a blustery day at Troon dressed like an ad for Brown Thomas?

A guy who doesn't play.

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Paul McGinley

Paul McGinley made the introduction. We were standing in the 'Open Zone' - an auxiliary Sky TV studio at the side of the Practice Range - and Jim had just driven down from his (soon-to-be-permanent) base in Glasgow as McGinley's guest for the day. Rory McIlroy was crushing balls on the range. There were two hours to kill before the leaders, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson, went head to head.

"We're going into the studio to watch the Ulster final. Would you like to join us?" McGinley inquired. And for a moment I was really tempted. McGuinness has a brilliant mind and bleeds Donegal. McGinley is a deep thinker and the son of a Donegal man.

'Jesus!' I thought. 'Imagine being a fly on that wall.'

But I hadn't come to the Open to watch the Ulster final.

"No thanks, Paul," I smiled.

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Connolly tussles with Dolan

So I didn't follow the action in Clones last weekend. And I wasn't at Croke Park for Dublin and Westmeath. And I've only seen a clip of Diarmuid Connolly wrestling James Dolan to the ground.

Was he provoked?

I don't know.

Did he deserve more than a yellow card?

I don't know.

But I do know a bit about the media and I was fascinated by the response on Tuesday's Drivetime (RTé Radio 1) when the presenter, Cormac ó hEadhra, threw the mic to Michael Corcoran for the six-thirty sports bulletin. Gaelic games was the third item on the agenda.

"Today saw the launch of the All-Ireland series," Corcoran announced. "Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh spoke to Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly about the incident against Westmeath which earned him a yellow card."

(Cue Connolly.)

"Yeah, you know, you can't let that envelop you really, you just have to play your own game and try and deal with it as best you can on the field."

(Cue question from Ní Cheallaigh.)

"Now the incident with Westmeath there during the week when . . . I suppose you were touched and you retaliated, when you look back on the incident now do you feel that reaction was the way to react?"

(Cue reply.)

"No, obviously not, that's not within the rules. I think the referee dealt with it there and then . . . you know, I was a little bit frustrated but look, that's part and parcel of the game as well."

(Cue suggestion from Ní Cheallaigh.)

"So you would regret the way you reacted."

(Cue reply.)

"No."

(Cue surprise.)

"No!"

(Cue affirmation.)

"No."

(Cue puzzlement.)

"Even though you say it wasn't within the rules?"

(Cue intransigence.)

"No, it wasn't within the rules, it was a yellow-card offence . . . but it is what it is."

Okay, so you can argue (and I would) that it's Ní Cheallaigh's place to ask questions, not lead with the answers, but Connolly's response is absolute gold and where it gets interesting is what happens next.

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Dublin boss Jim Gavin

Corcoran resumes the bulletin with an item about the Olympics but has barely cleared the opening line when he's distracted and starts laughing: "I was waiting for your reaction to that," he says.

"I'm sorry," ó hEadhra replies. "That's incredible, isn't it? Jim Gavin backed him up as well."

"What?"

"Jim Gavin backed him up as well," ó hEadhra insists.

"He did, yeah. Well look it's . . ."

"Will anything be done about that, I wonder? Hardly."

"I don't think so, no," Corcoran says. "Sometimes you know, in the words of the song: 'You say it best when you say nothing at all'."

Hmm, let's reflect on that for a moment.

The best footballer in the country - a man with scant regard for the media - consents to a rare interview with RTé. He's been in trouble two days before. The interviewer is suggesting he repent . . . "So you would regret the way you reacted" . . . and it's a good option. A safe option.

Repentance makes everyone feel better. Repentance gets him off the hook. Repentance is what 99.9 per cent of guys in his position would express. Repentance is clever. But what if Diarmuid Connolly has no interest in being clever? What if he's not sorry at all he grabbed Dolan by the head? What if he does something really unusual and gives an honest answer?

"No."

"No!"

"No.

How do we, the media, respond?

We mock him.

"That's incredible isn't it?"

We abandon logic and reason.

"Jim Gavin backed him up as well!"

We demand retribution.

"Will anything be done about that?"

We quote him Ronan Keating.

"You say it best when you say nothing at all."

And we wonder why they treat us like assholes.

Sunday Indo Sport

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