Saturday 18 January 2020

Cooney: No witch hunt in use of video evidence

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

GAA president Christy Cooney has agreed in principle with Mickey Harte's assertion that there is an unfairness in the way incidents in league games are reviewed using video evidence.

However, he insisted that the association would not shirk its responsibility in dealing with any misdemeanours that have not been picked up by referees.

As a host of football managers, led by Tyrone's Harte, continued to criticise the selectiveness of the system, Cooney said there was no "witch hunt" against top-tier players.

Harte has been joined by Derry's Damien Cassidy, Kildare's Kieran McGeeney and now Mayo's John O'Mahony in highlighting the imbalance that TV coverage provides.

Cassidy described it as "discriminatory" after Derry's defeat to Dublin on Saturday.

Top-level stars can be punished after incidents are highlighted and scrutinised on TV, whereas players from lower-division counties, whose games are not televised, often escape censure for similar misdemeanours. Cooney didn't disagree yesterday when asked if the system was "unfair".

"It is probably true, because you are under the microscope of the TV cameras and there are incidents spotted that the referee hasn't seen or that the referee has made a call on and needs to review.

"That happened in the case that you are referring to (Tyrone/Derry). The CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) took a decision to charge the people involved for whatever the incident was within the appropriate rules, but it is not our intention to just go hunting after players.

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"We will review evidence on an ongoing basis and, when it is appropriate to do it, it will be done.

"The CCCC deal with things as they come up. They are not on a witch hunt under any circumstances and if there is an incident deemed to be greater than dealt with in the referee's report, and particularly when the referee hasn't seen it, there is an onus on the CCCC to take a course of action.

"We won't be deviating from the approach we have been taking.

"There is a motion coming before Congress after Easter asking that once a referee has dealt with an incident, it should be left at that. Let's see how that motion goes."

Harte has called for the system to be scrapped if cameras and similar scrutiny cannot be provided at all league games. He also believes Joe McMahon should have his red card rescinded by the same practice used to suspend Conor Gormley, Justin McMahon and Martin Penrose last week.

McMahon was sent off in the concluding stages after an incident with Peadar Gardiner. Gardiner ran at McMahon after his involvement with another Mayo player and, in self-defence, McMahon raised his hand, sending his opponent sprawling to the ground.

"You look at it again and Joe didn't punch, he just put out his hand to fend him off and he (Gardiner) went down in a fashion that if he looked at it today on TV, he might be concerned about just how authentic his fall was," said Harte.

Mayo's Mark Ronaldson may also be in hot water after an incident with Ryan McMenamin in the same fractious conclusion.

"That was a matter of interpretation as well but it seemed to be in a more serious category than what Joe did," said Harte.

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