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It's time for Armagh to put an end to childish tantrum

By Declan Bogue

Is this one of these 'media writing about media' bore-fests that the media loves, or is there a nonplussed indifference to the entire scenario surrounding the Armagh media ban?

Is it even a media ban? I don't think it can be, given the companion piece to this column on the same page is an interview willingly given by Armagh manager Paul Grimley to my colleague John Campbell.

You will see from Paul's comments that he and his squad feels wronged over the course of the summer. It has led to probably the worst-kept media bans in the history of the GAA.

Because Kevin Dyas was allowed to speak at the presentation of his Ulster GAA Writers' Monthly Award. Stefan Campbell was allowed to speak to Sky after winning his Man of the Match Award. And when an email dropped into the inboxes of the country's GAA journalists on Tuesday, the prevailing notion was they had seen sense.

Not that speaking to players and management is any great thrill. The fact is, while their opinions matter in the context of a game, they are still human. Therefore, you will have boring footballers, just as you have boring bricklayers and boring accountants and boring journalists. Nobody gets excited about speaking to somebody who could bore their way through five minutes of post-match platitudes.

But, in nominating Peter McDonnell and Ciaran McKeever, there was juice to the story. Take McKeever for example. In years gone by, he granted many interviews, one that appeared in Gaelic Life while I was editor a particular favourite.

With the interviewer, Ciaran Woods, he talked about his 'apprenticeship' as a player under Kieran McGeeney, his knowledge and appreciation of green tea and how he had faced the scourge of online abuse. He revealed himself to be engaging and forthright.

His own development this year as Armagh's main ball-playing defender, along with the influence of McGeeney back in as selector, were all interesting topics to be covered. And that's before we even got onto his thoughts on the Donegal reinvention since the two teams last met in 2010 and how their paths have been blown off course since.

And consider Peter McDonnell. Last week he was quoted in a newspaper as saying "people would need to retrace their steps very accurately. Respect and good manners are not difficult qualities to carry.

"We would feel that we have been disrespected and dismissed and portrayed inaccurately ...

"Those ... who seek to report accurately and honestly do a marvellous job. Those who wish to pursue more insidious lines, motivated by factors that do not have the good of our county at heart, are another story altogether."

Now that deserved a little more clarification.

The curious thing about all this is that last year Armagh arranged an excellent media evening before the Ulster Championship, where the media was treated to the usual outstanding hospitality in the Athletic Grounds.

That the team went on to lose to Cavan and then ultimately Roscommon in the qualifiers had nothing to do with their good courtesy at the time, just as their relative success in getting to an All-Ireland quarter-final bears no relation to their silly games now.

Having interviewed McDonnell at the aforementioned press evening last summer and found him to be a philosophical, interesting deep-thinker, I don't think it would have been disrespectful to ask him at a press event what he meant by respect and good manners. I would also have asked him how the 'resolution was achieved' and how much influence Croke Park had on the hastily assembled press day.

Ultimately, the whole thing is laughable at this stage. There is no way a media blackout is fostering any real siege mentality among the players, who are all too clever to truly force themselves to believe it.

Whether Armagh talk are not is irrelevant, but the only people they cheat, in the end, remains themselves. Whoever is making the decisions in the camp need to take themselves a little less seriously.

Belfast Telegraph

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