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Bosses hit out at 'trial by TV'

RIVAL bosses Damien Cassidy and Mickey Harte have joined forces in attacking the "discriminatory" nature of the GAA's retrospective red card system.

Cassidy blasted the latest wave of trial-by-TV suspensions as a "farce" after his star Derry forward, Eoin Bradley, along with three Tyrone players were banned in the wake of their National Football League opener nine days ago.

Harte is equally adamant that the policy can only be deemed fair if every league game is video-taped and subject to disciplinary review.

Whether Croke Park chiefs take the managers' complaints on board is open to question. Neither manager has come out and said their players were innocent parties, but there is definitely some validity to their argument that the system discriminates against those teams whose league games are most frequently covered on live TV.

In this respect, Tyrone, Derry, Dublin and Kerry have all been subject to closer scrutiny than most with their opening two Division One fixtures covered on either TG4 or Setanta.

Tyrone suffered the heaviest setback with three players -- Conor Gormley, Martin Penrose and Justin McMahon -- all suspended for four weeks after top referee Pat McEnaney was asked to review flashpoints during their NFL opener in Celtic Park. McEnaney duly deemed the incidents worthy of red cards, the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) proposed four-week bans and all three were forced to sit out Tyrone's second league outing -- and second straight defeat -- at home to Mayo yesterday.

A similar review of Bradley's striking action on Gormley, in the same game, saw the Derry forward miss their seven-point reversal against Dublin on Saturday night.

After the Parnell Park clash, Cassidy didn't hold back when asked about the review system. "I think it's a farce, to put it mildly. I think it's extremely discriminatory. What you have is one team who's televised getting hammered, and another team who's not having the same analysis on the videos afterwards getting away completely free," the Derry manager maintained.

"It's quite clear it's discriminatory against teams who play on TV. I believe John Bannon's club (Legan Sarsfields in Longford) has a motion brought forward to Congress this year. I'm delighted as a referee he's the one who's instigated that, because he clearly understands the pressure that he's brought under after a game to review decisions that he's made in all honesty within the reality of the time of the game.


"And that's not to take away from fellas who have created misdemeanours. The point is, if one team is going to be trawled through with video analysis on a Monday or a Tuesday, let's have them all ... or else just have a bit of sense and wise up," Cassidy added.

He had harsh words for the CCCC, declaring: "It's an easy way to do a job, but a very unprofessional way to do a job as well. It's very simple, come back to the premise - all in or all out, it's one or the other, there's no half-measures. And half-measures at the minute are bringing discredit to the people who are doing that job."

While less trenchant in his language, Harte preached a similar message at Healy Park yesterday. "To do it fairly, every game in the league needs to be video-taped. If you do it with every game that's fine, I'm happy to live with that," the Tyrone manager said.

"But at the moment that doesn't seem to be the case, so therefore you're disadvantaged if your games are on live TV. The fact is that had our game not been televised live last week, we would have had Conor Gormley, Martin Penrose and Justin McMahon on our team today."

"Whether or not you think that's right or wrong is not here or there. To be fair and consistent, if you don't apply that in every game that's played, then it's a wrong system," he concluded.