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Whether it's infamy or in for us, Tyrone are circling the wagons

By Declan Bogue

Published 26/08/2015

Case for the defence: Joe Brolly insists he only says what he sees
Case for the defence: Joe Brolly insists he only says what he sees
The Tyrone fan's banner

On Sunday, I noticed something I hadn't seen before in Croke Park. Close to the very far wing of the press box in the upper Hogan Stand, there were a couple of Kerry supporters who cheered louder when Tyrone players were blown up for over-carrying or missing a chance, than when their own side decorated the game with some glorious scores.

When Pádraig McNulty went down in the penalty area and was booked for simulation rather than awarded a spot-kick, one man reserved louder cheers for that incident than he did for the final whistle.

On Sunday morning, a group of Tyrone fans made off from Augher and when they got to Hill 16, they unfurled their banner - 'No one likes us, we don't care'. It showcased the humour that their support can muster in these times, that they were willing to adopt the mantra of Millwall FC supporters.

But the question must be asked, how has it come to this, that Tyrone are seen as a plague on the game?

Whether people admit it or not, the average person is influenced by the voices they hear on radio, what they read and what they see on television.

It doesn't take much arguing to make the case that the panel on RTE's 'The Sunday Game' have exerted an influence on the ongoing conversation of Tyrone's behaviour. It must also be said that Tyrone have not helped themselves either, with examples of blatant diving even outside of the 'Rufflegate' saga.

Joe Brolly has taken up the cudgels more often this year than in the past. In May, he labelled his RTÉ colleague Marty Morrissey 'ugly'. Group Head of Sport on RTÉ, Ryle Nugent, spoke to him about "his ill-conceived attempt at humour" and said that Joe "is fully cognisant of the fact that similar comments in any future broadcast cannot and will not be tolerated".

Since then, Brolly has savaged others, including referees Paudie Hughes and Maurice Deegan, while in print he has gone after Peter Canavan, Mickey Harte and Jim McGuinness. It is already known that the GAA have made an informal complaint about Brolly.

His argument generally runs along the lines that he is only saying what people say in pubs, but no television producer ever stumbled upon a formula to get over a million people tuning in to a pub conversation.

At what point is enough, enough?

I asked him this yesterday, and his response over his criticism of Tyrone was: "Their behaviour speaks for itself. An onlooker can only see diving and feigning if players do it.

"Contrast with Sunday's game when Tyrone were praised for their manly approach. Again, the onlooker is simply describing what he sees."

But here's the unfortunate thing; people retain negativity rather than positivity.

In a New York Times article from March 2012 entitled 'Praise is fleeting, but brickbats we recall', the author Alina Tugend cites Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University.

He said: "Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.

"The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones.

"Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events - and use stronger words to describe them - than happy ones."

Another academic, Roy F Baumeister, who is a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, captured the idea in the title of a journal article in 2001 - 'Bad is stronger than good', which appeared in The Review of General Psychology.

"Research over and over again shows this is a basic and wide-ranging principle of psychology," he said.

As the article succinctly puts it: "Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones."

It's no surprise to learn that this may be an evolutionary quality. Those who are "more attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased the probability of passing along their genes," holds Professor Nass.

And he also offers another interesting point - we tend to see people who say negative things as smarter than those who are positive. Thus, we are more likely to give greater weight to critical reviews.

Nobody could argue about the effectiveness of how these subjects are being argued, but it has clearly frustrated Harte to the point where he talks of the "articulate drivel" Tyrone are subject to.

Colm O'Rourke might profess that he has nothing personal against the Red Hands, but to use the unfortunate analogy about a 'bad smell' following a county about is something that sticks. It's harmful and hurtful.

Ciaran Whelan is one who called for an apology from Tiernan McCann over his dive in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Monaghan. To delve into whataboutery always ensures the swift death of any debate, but nonetheless Tyrone could point to dozens of similar examples in other games, where the idea of calling for an apology would be laughed at.

The Sunday Game has always been an institution in every house. I can recall a former teacher once playing a video of hurling coaching to us, a group of eight and nine-year-olds.

He asked if we knew the introductory tune. Of course, 'Jägerlatein'. Or as we called it, 'The Sunday Game song'.

Somewhere along the way, it seems to have been forgotten that football and hurling are the hook for the audience, and the punditry was added value. Right now, the order seems reversed.

Take a step back. What does the observer see?

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