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Declan Bogue: There's an appropriate time for consoling

By Declan Bogue

Half a lifetime ago, I worked summers at a glazing factory. The undoubted highlight of the week was the hour of indoor soccer at a local leisure centre on wages day.

The vast majority of our number played Gaelic games, so it was soccer, but not as we know it. The Gaelic football tackle was considered entirely fair, and the challenges had a distinctly Hibernian feel to them. You could be past a man and receive a spiteful kick. Appeals for a free would be openly scorned.

Gerry liked to head up the town afterwards for a few scoops. He would be delayed in the showers by distraction tactics such as more shampoo being dumped on his head while another man would race through his ablutions, returning to the changing rooms to rapidly towel down with Gerry's freshly pressed chinos and clean shirt.

The first time, he was fine with it. Even joined in with the laughter. By the 10th and 11th, all sorts of furious violence would be threatened.

Once Gerry's anger had subsided, Seamus would slip out and we would hear an innocent knock on the changing room door.

"Let that man in," would be the call to whoever was sitting closest to the door and Seamus would enter, before congratulating the opposition on a heroic game, played in the right spirit. That's if his side won. If he lost, then he would go off on a rage with those on his team, lecturing them about commitment and promising a multitude of laps for everyone at training on Tuesday night, making us all swear off the drink, as it was Con"Only four weeks out from Championship!"

Bear in mind the teams were picked on the floor only an hour earlier.

Seamus is now a joint-manager of the Fermanagh hurlers. It was only a matter of time before such motivational genius would find an appropriate stage.

Anyway, the fact that the post-match address from the opposition manager was subject to pastiche, is a demonstration of how ingrained in GAA culture it is.

Feargal Logan (below) is a man of integrity. He is also a man who knows defeat and sat in devastated dressing rooms after the All-Ireland final with Tyrone in 1995, and his club Stewartstown when they lost to Finuge in the junior club decider 10 years later.

You imagine the 1995 defeat must have been particularly hard, given that Dublin's Charlie Redmond had been awarded a red card but remained on the field.

It was Logan who Redmond attempted to headbutt, and Tyrone later had an equaliser ruled out for a foul on the ball, but video evidence is inconclusive.

Therefore, if anyone was able to console Tipperary after the under-21 final on Saturday night, it was the Tyrone manager.

It comes as no surprise that it was a county board official that barred his way to the dressing room. They have a habit of putting themselves front and centre of matters in the wake of disappointing events, while the team managers were much more phlegmatic in their response to defeat.

There should be some perspective over the level of cynicism in the game as Tipperary were equally as culpable.

If they are hurt by the amount of sledging that went on in the game, then that is understandable. We believe men like Logan and Peter Canavan when they maintain it is not encouraged, and even warned against.

When the black card was brought in, one of the offences it would trigger was sledging.

The problem is that it is deeply ingrained in the game now. As for cynicism, you will not get a clearer example of that than the closing stages of the 2013 senior football final. But as there were no Ulster teams involved, it doesn't get brought up.

Belfast Telegraph


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