'It's not trial by TV'
THE GAA has strongly denied that its disciplinary processes are being overly influenced by television coverage of controversial incidents.
Allegations of over-reliance on TV emerged following the suspension of Paul Galvin after an incident in last Sunday's Kerry-Cork Munster semi-final replay where he was caught on camera sticking a finger into the mouth of Cork substitute Eoin Cadogan.
The eight-week ban was proposed by the Central Competitions Control Committee, leaving Galvin with the option of accepting it or taking his case to the Central Hearings Committee. He has opted for the former and won't be eligible to play again until August 8, a week after the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
While stressing that the CCCC would never "confirm or comment on any speculation surrounding past, present or pending disciplinary matters", chairman Seamus Woods insisted that the committee members made up their own minds on all issues. He also stated that whether or not incidents were highlighted on TV was irrelevant to the CCCC.
"It is ridiculous to suggest that what may be highlighted on 'The Sunday Game' would not be seen elsewhere or would somehow not otherwise come into the public domain," he said.
"It is equally disingenuous to imagine that the CCCC would be oblivious to any particular incident and that such an incident would remain a state secret but for 'The Sunday Game'."
With Kerry still seething over the latest Galvin ban, the focus has switched to the role played by 'The Sunday Game' in highlighting the incident, which led to an intervention by CCCC.
They asked referee Pat McEnaney to view the video footage on Monday and once he indicated that he would have taken action had he seen the incident clearly in real time, an eight-week ban was proposed for Galvin.
Kerry have questioned why the Galvin-Cadogan clash was highlighted and point to another incident where Colm Cooper was taken out by a Cork player but no action was taken.
Kerry also contend that coverage on 'The Sunday Game' exposed Galvin to scrutiny that set him for a charge. Darragh O Se was especially critical of panellist Anthony Tohill, accusing him of being "judge and jury".
Former Kerry star Mikey Sheehy also expressed annoyance with 'The Sunday Game', both in his column in 'The Kerryman' and on RTE radio.
"There would be a lot of anger over it in Kerry. They (the panellists) highlighted that particular incident (Galvin) and they also made reference to Graham Canty's tackle on Paul when he was introduced.
"But there were a couple of other incidents that I felt should have been highlighted," said Sheehy.
There's no doubt that 'The Sunday Game' plays a major role in forming opinions of controversial incidents that are replayed several times, often in slow motion.
However, Woods is scathing of suggestions that the programme sets the disciplinary agenda.
"'The Sunday Game' is not, never was and never will be the only source of information as long as 1.5 million people continue to attend inter-county fixtures each year, while many more watch the 50 'live' games," he said.
Woods points out that under the GAA disciplinary procedures, information regarding a particular incident can come from sources other than the referee. That includes CCCC members, if they are present at the game under review.
The relevant rule states that any member of the GAA "may have seen an incident at a game or afterwards which was not contained in the referee's report and may notify the Council of Committee in charge".
Woods said that all counties have their own CCC, which operates under the same rules as the central body.
"It would, therefore, be rather inconsistent for a county to complain about procedures at national level when that same county and its officers are operating the exact same system and procedures within their own constituency."
Woods also pointed out that the CCCC do not hand out suspensions but rather proposes a penalty for an alleged infraction.
"The individual in question can then contest the proposed penalty before the Central Hearings Committee," he said.
Confirming that Galvin would not be taking his case before the CHC, Kerry County Board chairman Jerome Conway said the matter was now closed as far as they were concerned.
"We're disappointed to be going into the Munster final without such an outstanding player as Paul Galvin but we now need to focus on Limerick and the strong challenge they will put before us," he said.
He said Kerry had concerns over why the Galvin incident came in for such scrutiny while others went unpunished.
"Nobody was talking about Paul Galvin, other than how well he played, on the way out of the ground yet he became a big talking point later on. I'd have concerns over how that can happen. In the end, justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. I'm not condoning what Paul did but TV programmes should not be part of our disciplinary process," he said.
The members of the disciplinary wing of CCCC are: Seamus Woods (Tyrone), chairman; Tommy Kilcoyne (Sligo), John Reidy (Clare), Michael Burns (Monaghan), Jim Berry (Wexford).
The four provincial secretaries, Michael Delaney (Leinster), John Prenty (Connacht), Pat Fitzgerald (Munster) and Danny Murphy (Ulster), are also on CCCC but have no involvement in disciplinary matters.