| 13.1°C Dublin

Bitegate a distraction for Dublin

Close

GAA President Liam O'Neill and Director General Paraic Duffy in attendance at the publication of the Director General's Annual Report. Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

GAA President Liam O'Neill and Director General Paraic Duffy in attendance at the publication of the Director General's Annual Report. Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

GAA President Liam O'Neill and Director General Paraic Duffy in attendance at the publication of the Director General's Annual Report. Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

THE year is only three weeks old and, already, Jim Gavin has got a taste of what it's like defending Sam Maguire.

THE year is only three weeks old and, already, Jim Gavin has got a taste of what it's like defending Sam Maguire.

The spotlight is even more intense. You are trying to guard against the perils of post All-Ireland fatigue, legacy injuries and potential complacency – all of which can be difficult enough without having the new-found mantle of being everyone's favourite ambush target.

Donegal found that out, to their cost, last summer.

Ultimately, they didn't have the playing quality in sufficient quantity to cope with the physical/mental stresses of trying to go back-to-back. Dublin are seen as a different proposition; in comparison to Donegal's more limited resources, they possess an abundance of options, a glut of hungry wannabes ready to challenge last year's established order.

 

FRINGE

But many of Gavin's fringe brigade have already suffered their first competitive defeat of 2014 – losing to DCU in the O'Byrne Cup.

Meanwhile, the controversial postscript to that defeat, the alleged biting of a DCU player, has redoubled the scrutiny on the one area where Dublin attracted most criticism during their all-conquering league and championship double run last season.

Discipline.

While the Leinster Council's investigation into the above is ongoing, the story has inevitably prompted plenty of media retrospectives on last April's sorry saga in Ballybofey – the allegation that Donegal forward Paddy McBrearty was bitten by a Sky Blue opponent during their Allianz League top-flight encounter.

Now, 'Bitegate' has been revisited by GAA director general Páraic Duffy in his annual report to Congress. Duffy's comments on the affair (reported in yesterday's Herald) are unequivocal and his conclusions could scarcely have been more pointed when it comes to Dublin – and Donegal, for that matter.

Contrary to what Dublin board officials said at the time, he is adamant that McBrearty suffered a "severe bite", adding: "That was a disgusting and shocking incident in itself, but what is just as reprehensible is that no one could be held to account for what happened."

On that score, he exonerates the disciplinary arms of Croke Park (the Central Competitions Control Committee and the Central Hearings Committee) and instead points the finger of blame at counties who chose to deal with the incident "solely in terms of their own interests". As Duffy surmises: "No one was proved to have inflicted the bite simply because no one admitted to having done so and because the player who was bitten decided not to attend a hearing on the case."

It remains to be seen if the Croker chief's trenchant critique attracts any public riposte from the management teams and county boards of either Dublin or Donegal. Maybe they will choose to ignore it, in the fervent hope that this nine-month old story fades into the ether.

But for Dublin, setting out in defence of their double, it's a distraction they could do without.


Privacy