Sunday 18 February 2018

Martin Breheny: Harte's talents do not make him authority on aesthetics

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

MICKEY Harte was unhappy with comments about the Tyrone-Donegal league game last Sunday week, noting in his newspaper column that "it is most disappointing when some professional journalists indulge in describing our prime product, Gaelic football, in a most disparaging manner."

Since he addressed some of the points made in this column last Wednesday, I assume it came under his critical eye. If not, then others clearly held a similar view to me, which surely strengthens the argument that the game had a case to answer.

He asserted that when games "of a high quality and keenly contested are unjustifiably demeaned and described as poisonous, dour and foul-ridden, the objective nature of such utterances has to be seriously questioned. The focus on the two dismissals and 13 yellow cards, without any examination of how they came about, only endorses the idea that there is a desire to push a negative agenda."

Really? Could it not just be a genuinely-held reaction to watching the game (on video in my case, but quite revealing nonetheless)?

I also pointed out how in a Division 2 game an Armagh player rugby-tackled a Longford opponent as he bore down on goal, merely conceding a free and taking a meaningless yellow card while preventing an almost certain goal in a very tight contest.

It provided the perfect justification for the introduction of the Football Review Committee's black card system, where such an offence would result in the offender being sent off and replaced.

"The incident is then magnified to extreme proportions, implying that this will be the key event that could well see Longford relegated. Just how tenuous are the arguments for the FRC findings going to become?" asked Harte.

The truth is that it could have a major bearing on Longford's season. And even if it doesn't, the case for tougher punishments for cynical fouls is indisputable.

I would always defer to Harte's expertise in coaching/managerial affairs, but not in matters relating to what's best in making Gaelic football a good spectacle.

And, after all, the game belongs to everybody, not just successful managers. So do opinions.

Irish Independent

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