Wednesday 22 November 2017

GAA must investigate the James McCarthy 'eye gouge' incident... there is a case to answer

James McCarthy clashes with Martin McElhinney of Donegal
James McCarthy clashes with Martin McElhinney of Donegal
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Whether you think it was an eye gouge or not, James McCarthy has a case to answer for his actions on Saturday night.

Jim Gavin contends that its a 'strong allegation' to make to say that McCarthy acted with malicious intent when he placed his finger in Martin McElhinney's eye and he's right... but that shouldn't be case closed.

It is incumbent on the GAA to probe the incident as they did when Philly McMahon did it to Kieran Donaghy last year and handed down a one-game ban.

McMahon's defence to David Coldrick on the day was: "It’s two boys competing that’s all."

James McCarthy has no such defence.

He and McElhinney were squaring up in a fracas when McCarthy makes contact with his eye. If this was rugby, we would be getting word today that the Dublin wing-back has been cited and will attend a disciplinary hearing. Will the GAA act similarly? I doubt it.

In the aftermath of the Dublin-Kerry incident, Donaghy said he didn't want anything to be made of it. Something along the lines of 'what happens on the field, stays on the field'.

That's nonsense.

There are a lot of black marks against the GAA disciplinary system in recent years and it's about time a line was drawn in the sand.

In the Battle of Tralee a few weeks ago, Neil McGee could easily have broken Alan Fitzgerald's fingers in an off the ball incident and was given a ONE match ban.

Fitzgerald was given a one-game ban for punching McGee to keep his 10 fingers intact. Why Kerry didn't contest the ban on the grounds of self defence, as Diarmuid Connolly did successfully last year after his tangle with Mayo's Lee Keegan, is mystifying.

A player who defends himself is not defended by his county board. Whether his response was proportional is irrelevant in my opinion. Was Fitzgerald supposed to wait for the snap of one or more of his digits and potentially be forced to miss work?

Mayo's Kevin Keane came on against Donegal in an All-Ireland quarter-final and idiotically swung a punch at Michael Murphy and had his ban rescinded. It was downgraded to a yellow. He could have broken Murphy's jaw.

Paraic Duffy voiced his anger at the fact that nobody came forward to name the player involved in hospitalising Dublin's Davy Byrne before a challenge game last July.

He said: "We have all witnessed how elite professional sport has lost much of its integrity through a loss of genuine sporting values."

The GAA needs to lead from the top. Making contact with the eye of an opponent is serious, it goes to the heart of player welfare, and McCarthy needs to explain himself to a disciplinary hearing, not the press or Martin McElhinney.

This is too big an issue to brush under the carpet.

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