Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 February 2015

The ugly side of GAA

Tyrone's Ryan McMenamin man-handles Kerry's Marc O'Se during a heated National League encounter
Tyrone's Ryan McMenamin man-handles Kerry's Marc O'Se during a heated National League encounter

It’s still only February but already the GAA is having to face up to massive disciplinary problems.

The Allianz football league opener featuring Dublin and All Ireland champions Tyrone under the Croke Park lights showcased all that is good in the sport. But the weekend past revealed a darker and even uglier side to the sport.

The sport’s main disciplinary body, the Central Competitions Control Committee (the CCCC) won’t be meeting until next week as its chairman Jimmy Dunne is currently on holidays. But they will have more than enough to mull over on his return.

The whole focus in the early weeks of the season was on the experimental disciplinary rules.

But after the events in both the Athletic Grounds, Armagh and Laois, and Healy Park the GAA now has to face up to far more serious issues.

There was a first half brawl involving a number of players from both sides which resulted in four players, two from each side being dismissed.

The next day Healy Park was the venue for the two best teams in the country, Tyrone and Kerry, and again you could sense the underlying tension.

There’s no doubt a number of players from both will have some explaining to do when the CCCC actually gets around to assessing the damage done to the sport.

Both Tyrone’s Ryan McMenamin and Paul Galvin as well as Kerry boss Jack O’Connor may have some explaining to do in the days and weeks ahead.

O’Connor did his best to play things down when it was all over insisting it was all ‘minor stuff.’

But the impact is one of poor presentation for the biggest game of the week and one that went out on live television.

The CCCC will take consensus from committee members as to whether they should ask referee Jimmy White to revisit any of the incidents that marred a repeat of last September’s All Ireland decider. If White declares satisfaction with the manner in which he handled them then the matter will be closed.

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will have to cope with the loss of ace marksman Stephen O’Neill until the middle of next month.

O’Neill scored eight points against Dublin in the league opener, but also suffered a knee injury in the same game and later aggravated it in training.

Off the pitch the GAA could be in line for a financial windfall providing both Munster and Leinster win their respective European Cup quarter final matches against Ospreys and Harlequins.

Everything would then be in place for a Munster v Leinster semi final at Croke Park, Central Council having given it the green light over the weekend.

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