Thursday 22 February 2018

Red dawn to new season just what GAA ordered

Referee Syl Doyle issues a straight red card to Billy Sheehan (left) of Laois as Kildare's Morgan O'Flaherty looks on during their O'Byrne Cup
Referee Syl Doyle issues a straight red card to Billy Sheehan (left) of Laois as Kildare's Morgan O'Flaherty looks on during their O'Byrne Cup quarter-final PAUL MOHAN / SPORTSFILE

DON KING, he of the frizzed thatch, gleaming smile and an unrivalled capacity to convert boxing molehills into towering mountains, has always had his own unique take on mayhem and confusion.

Regarding them as problems is, according to King, the predictable response of the stressed and the unimaginative. He claims they should be welcomed as glorious opportunities, because in King-city the theory goes that the more chaos the better, as only the dullest mind won't spot a way of making a profit from picking up the pieces.

King doesn't feature on any GAA committee -- and more's the pity because boy, would he electrify the promotional side of things -- but if he did, he would advise them to be less tortured by what happened in Portlaoise last Sunday.

By all means condemn the incidents which led to seven players being dismissed during the Laois-Kildare game. Also assert the primacy of the need for good discipline and then let the punishment agencies get on with their work.

The Leinster CCC starts that process tonight and the certain outcome is that some Kildare and Laois players will be watching part of the National League from the stands.

After being without inter-county football since last summer, they will feel like right eejits for missing League games over a bust-up in a pre-season competition where nobody remembers the outright champions, let alone quarter-final winners.

That's quite a punishment and their respective county boards won't be too happy either, as they will face hefty fines.


The obvious reaction from commentary land to last Sunday's game is to climb aboard the tallest horse and issue another boring lecture about how to eradicate these type of incidents.

Don King would probably do that too, but privately he would be telling the GAA that it was exactly the sort of explosive start their year needed.

Hell, a pre-season football game knocked Leinster and Munster rugby, English soccer, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry off the back pages on Monday!

Of course, it was for the wrong reasons, but then we don't live in a perfect world. Besides, isn't the eye-gouge, the latest scourge of the rugby world, far more serious than an untidy cluster of footballers swinging wildly with a lamentable level of accuracy?

Nobody can condone what happened in Portlaoise, but let's at least allow some sense of perspective to have its say. Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, one wild duck doesn't make a winter. In other words, the chances of a repeat of last Sunday's nonsense -- certainly at inter-county level -- for the rest of the year are quite remote. That's always been the past experience where there were early-season bust-ups.

Yes, there will be occasional flare-ups, but, on a pro-rata basis, scarcely any more than in other teams sports. After all, a week earlier, the referee at the Newry City v Larne Irish Cup soccer game was abandoned after a very violent incident involving players and officials.

Rugby hasn't been without its punch-ups either, but, irrespective of how many are involved, the stock response is to either sin bin or send off a player from either side and talk to the respective captains.

Wexford referee Syl Doyle opted for zero tolerance in Portlaoise and, in the process, ensured that a routine O'Byrne Cup game ended up as a news item. Admittedly not a good news story, but it certainly announced the start of the GAA playing season.

Of course the controversial incidents shouldn't have happened, but just watch what they do for gate receipts when Kildare return to Portlaoise for a National League game against Laois on March 27.

If both sides are in contention for promotion from Division 2, the GAA won't even need Don King to sell that game.

Cahillane poised to put miserly Kilmurry to test

HAVE Kilmurry-Ibrickane created a record for fielding the most miserly defence in AIB All-Ireland club football championship history?

The Clare champions haven't conceded a single goal in their last 11 Munster and All-Ireland games. They have been pretty tight with points too, giving away just 0-30 in their last six games since November 2008.

In 2004/2005 Kilmurry won the Munster title without conceding a goal in four games and extended the shut-out against Ballina in the All-Ireland semi-final, despite losing.

Kilmurry's more recent defensive excellence was constructed as follows: 2008 Munster SFC: 0-4 v Galtee Rovers (Tipperary), 0-6 v Dromcollogher-Broadford (Limerick). 2009 Munster SFC: 0-5 v Dromcollogher-Broadford; 0-6 v Stradbally (Waterford); 0-6 v Kerins O Rahillys (Kerry). 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final: 0-3 v Tir Chonail Gaels (London).

It's hardly surprising that a Kilmurry defender was chosen as Player of the 2009 Munster championship, with the award going to 20-year-old Darren Hickey.

Kilmurry play Portlaoise in the All-Ireland semi-final next month when Hickey will be up against another impressive 20-year-old in Paul Cahillane, who won the Leinster award after scoring a total of 4-10 in four games. Something has to give that day!

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport