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Armagh in last-ditch U-turn on star Kevin

By Declan Bogue

Armagh's Kevin Dyas was prevented from speaking to the press at a Croke Park media launch for this weekend's Round 4B qualifiers yesterday morning.

Such events are staged by the GAA Communications Department and they had requested a player from each county playing this Saturday to take part in photographs and brief interviews.

On Friday, Armagh's county board had nominated Dyas, but the Dromintee player then informed Siobhán Brady of Croke Park that he was not allowed to give any interviews under any circumstances.

Brady informed the media at the launch: "We arranged it with the county board and got confirmation last Friday that Kevin Dyas would be available.

"I spoke to Kevin this morning to make sure he knew where he was coming and he told me that he had been withdrawn last night from doing media interviews."

She continued: "He did do the photographs and then he was gone. The first notification we received was this morning when I spoke to Kevin, around 10am."

It's understood that Dyas had expected Armagh selector Kieran McGeeney to get in touch with the GAA on this matter.

The Armagh camp have been practising a partial media black-out from even before preparations began for the Championship. Manager Paul Grimley has been communicating with some media outlets, including The Belfast Telegraph.

Earlier this month, Dyas was awarded the Ulster GAA Writer's Monthly Merit Award, and gave a number of press interviews in connection with this.

The reasons behind Armagh's stance on this issue appear at this stage to be ever more ridiculous, along with some clearly-manufactured outrage over what they called 'hysterical reporting' over the pre-match brawl that occurred prior to the Cavan match.

Immediately after that match, reporters asked Grimley about the scenes, and he claimed that the incident was "blown out of proportion" even though it was only minutes after the final whistle.

Subsequently, Grimley commented in the Newry Democrat and asserted that newspapers had some power in terms of the one-match bans that were handed down to Kieran Toner, Brendan Donaghy and Andy Mallon.

Some sympathy must be extended to the lack of respect shown in this instance to Dyas. Last season this writer interviewed Dyas and found him to be a brilliant interview subject.

Dyas is articulate and bright. The fact that he wasn't trusted to respond to a few gentle questions about an upcoming football match reflects the current immaturity and paranoia that some inter-county squads are attempting to cultivate within their squads.

It also left Dyas appearing un-cooperative.

Later at Croke Park, there was more mirth when Meath's Kevin Reilly was asked about his experiences of training under Grimley, who spent some time coaching Meath as an assistant to Seamus McEnaney.

Reilly tersely responded: "He did his best to try and get the best out of us, I suppose."

His delivery left those present in no doubt as to how to read between the lines, especially given his reaction to the next question about working with Kieran McGeeney, as he did for Ireland's International Rules squad in 2011.

"I like Kieran!" exclaimed Reilly. "We all see what Kieran McGeeney is about. He's a great character. He was a great player.

"He oozes confidence. He's a very intense guy. He wouldn't leave much to chance. You can see that in his preparation of teams and the way he goes about himself. I've a lot of time for Kieran."

Asked about McGeeney transferring his skills as a player into management, he continued: "It's the type of guy that he is. As a player he wanted the best out of himself and he got it.

"Some players, they do what the manager tells them to do because they don't know any different. This guy knew what had to be done to make him into an exceptional player and as a captain he was a real leader."

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