Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Galwey Micks the wrong call

Sometimes friendship and loyalty can cloud your judgment.

That appears to be the case with Mick Galwey, following his reaction to Alan Quinlan's 12-week suspension.

Quinlan misses the Lions tour having been found guilty of foul play or, more specifically, "making contact with the eye area" of Leinster's Leo Cullen. The footage showed clear contact and, given rugby's correct determination to clamp down on offences of this nature, when it came to the issue of Quinlan getting banned, it was never a case of ‘if' but rather of ‘how long'.

Galwey is rightly regarded in the highest esteem in Irish rugby circles. An excellent player and inspirational captain, the Currow man was a central figure in the genesis of Munster's progression to the rank of Europe's number one club as well helping to spark the revival in Ireland's international fortunes this decade. He played hundreds of games alongside Quinlan, for Shannon and Munster, and is understandably distraught at the 34-year-old missing what should have been a career-crowning experience.

"It's very hard to believe that someone could be suspended for something like that," said Galwey yesterday. "The TV made it look very bad. It's a physical game, these things happen. You see fellas coming off the field with knocks and bruises the whole time in rugby and that's exactly what happened. It was the biggest game that Munster and Leinster ever played and of course there was going to be confrontation."

However well-intentioned, Galwey's comments were misguided and almost naive — harking back to the amateur era when on-pitch punishments were carried out while referees looked away.

The ERC effectively cleared Quinlan of intent on Wednesday, but it was only ever relevant to the length of the ban.

Galwey also brought up the intriguing case of Ismaila Lassissi — the Castres flanker banned for a year and then cleared a week later for the ‘alleged' offence of biting Munster prop Peter Clohessy. The fact Lassissi got off was a disgrace but should not be used as an argument in favour of Quinlan being cleared as that case is one of the reasons rugby has made such an effort to clean up its act.

Once Quinlan's hand went anywhere near Cullen's eye, and was seen to do so, he was always going down, regardless of lack of intent. Complete exoneration would have sent out a terrible message.

This suspension is not the result of a witch-hunt, put-up job, stitch-up or part of a dastardly English-driven plot to get Tom Croft on the plane — it's a reality of the professional game.

On one point, Galwey was entirely correct. "Irrespective of whether he was going on the Lions tour or not, it's just a shame," he said. No arguments there.

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