Wednesday 17 January 2018

'He was hit six times before the ball was thrown in': Dublin GAA CEO hits out at 'targeting' of Connolly and 'harsh' All Star selection

Dublin County Board CEO John Costello has urged officials to punish the 'original instigator' in incidents of foul play, as he drew attention to the alleged 'targeting' of Diarmuid Connolly in his annual report.

Speaking in his 2016 review, Costello - whose son Cormac kicked three points off the bench in the All-Ireland final replay for Jim Gavin's side as they captured a second straight title - said that Connolly was hit 'six times' before the ball was thrown in for one of last season's games.

The Dublin star was involved in a number of controversial incidents throughout the summer, most notably with Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan across the two All-Ireland finals.

Costello feels that referees aren't punishing initial aggressors harshly enough.

"In one of our championship games this summer one of our players – (no prizes for guessing who!) - Diarmuid Connolly, was struck about six times before the ball was even thrown in to commence the game," Costello said.

"At most breaks in play, this action continued with the perpetrator turning his back to the play and repeatedly striking Diarmuid, with one intention only, i.e. provoking a reaction that may get him in card trouble. The linesman’s attention was brought to it but again no action taken.

"In conclusion, to clean up this aspect of our games which often culminates in messy pushing and shoving contests and, ultimately the odd ripped jersey or two, it is important for the welfare of the game that action is taken to cut it out at source i.e. the original instigator."

Costello also took issue with Dublin only receiving six selections on the 2016 All Star team, one less than the previous year.

"I think it would be remiss not to suggest that Dublin were a bit harshly judged in receiving just six awards after a season which saw Jim Gavin’s men go unbeaten through the League, Leinster Championship and All-Ireland Series, to secure back-to-back All-Irelands," Costello said.

"It was somewhat mystifying that some players who were not always present be it through being subbed in games, black-carded, or more general card trouble or simply not being picked in the first place, were attributed the same rating as if they had been always present, while players who played consistently were down-graded by dint of not delivering a flawless performance on some occasions."

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