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Joe Brolly sticks boot into Tyrone again

By Declan Bogue

Controversial GAA television pundit Joe Brolly has defended his remarks made over the weekend concerning Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh.

Speaking yesterday, a defiant Brolly said: "Tyrone ones are saying, 'look, we support our team. We resent what you said about Sean Cavanagh and Mickey Harte.'

"They are quite right to say that, but they do accept the principle that the rules have to be changed."

When it was put to him that he was a "poor man's Eamonn Dunphy," he responded: "I feel strongly about the game, I feel strongly about this culture creeping into the game and it's completely untrue to say that I have any anti-Tyrone agenda. That's just codswallop as anyone can tell you if they look back over my track record in relation to Tyrone."

Chairman of the Football Review Committee taskforce Eugene McGee, welcomes the spotlight this issue throws on their work in attempting to rid Gaelic football of challenges of this nature, most prominently the forthcoming introduction of a new 'black card', which will see players replaced by a substitute for an offence of this nature, for up to three times.

"What it has shown is that the vast, vast majority of GAA people don't have a clue about the black card, which is what I always suspected," said McGee.

"This will immediately change the atmosphere now because people will begin to count black cards in their heads.

 

"There was no better example of it than Sean Cavanagh. Had he been a black card recipient on Saturday, it would have been a very severe penalty for Tyrone ... there were 20 minutes left to play, and he (Cavanagh) scored the final point, the crucial one."

Brolly was incensed by Cavanagh pulling Monaghan attacker Conor McManus to the ground in the 49th minute as he was about to go through for a goal-scoring opportunity.

An animated Brolly said: "Mickey Harte jumping up and down, cheering and smiling as if they have achieved something. I'll tell you what they achieved, they have achieved something absolutely rotten..."

He told Radio Ulster: "You can forget about Seán Cavanagh as far as he's concerned as a man. What he did there was a total and absolute obscenity ... It's an absolute disgrace, I want nothing to do with it. "

Meanwhile, the Gaelic Player's Association are refusing to become embroiled in the spat.

After consultation between Cavanagh – who has served as secretary of the players' representative group – and high-ranking officers of the GPA took place on Sunday and Monday, they decided they would make no further comment on the matter. When contacted on Monday, Ciaran McLaughlin, chairman of the Tyrone county board, confirmed that the board would also make no public utterances on the affair.

Cavanagh had already addressed the issue with reporters and in a radio interview after the game, when he stated: "It doesn't worry me one bit. I play for Tyrone, I play for the team. I'll do whatever it takes to win. Unfortunately it's not pretty at times, but sometimes you have to take these yellow cards.

"I completely see where all the pundits are coming from," he added. "I've probably been pulled down more than anybody in the past 10 or 12 years but you do these things for the team and any player who says they wouldn't do it to get yourself into an All-Ireland semi-final would be a liar."

As Tyrone have made their way to a semi-final date against Mayo, Cavanagh has picked up three consecutive yellow cards for similar offences.

Against Kildare he pulled Daryl Flynn to the ground in the 67th minute. A week later he picked up a booking for bringing Meath's Graham Reilly to the floor on 66 minutes.

In all games, the outcome was hanging in the balance.

Tyrone also completed their win over Dublin in the National League back in March with Cavanagh and Aidan Cassidy committing fouls of this nature in the closing stages.

That night, Tyrone left the field with boos from the crowd ringing in their ears, just like on Saturday.

Brolly expounded on his views, stating: "The serious point is that do we want to continue to go down the road of where cynicism flourishes or do we want to have a game that we can be proud of, where we don't have these outrageous moments happening, particularly in Croke Park?"

He went on: "Sean Cavanagh will admit himself that he is a serial cynical fouler, the evidence is there. It's not sporting, it's rotten in my view, it reflects very poorly on him in my view and it is a poor example from him for young people. It's not good enough to say that 'this is the way we play, it's not my fault, don't blame me.' I am calling him out on it. I'm telling him that it's a disgrace, it's uncceptable and he ought not to do it."

What is all the fuss about?

RTÉ analyst Joe Brolly's impassioned assessment of the Tyrone v Monaghan All-Ireland quarter-final has sparked huge debate among the general public, as well as tens of thousands of views of Internet clips.

As Gaelic football has developed over the past couple of decades, a measure of gamesmanship has crept in, with teams more and more likely to prevent opponents from going clear on goal by employing a 'rugby-style' illegal tackle and dragging the player to the ground, such as that of the challenge employed by Sean Cavanagh against Monaghan's Conor McManus last Saturday.

In Gaelic football, there is no such rule governing what is termed in soccer as a 'professional foul'. The maximum penalty for such an action is a yellow card. Cavanagh has received three in his last three Championship games for Tyrone for similar challenges.

The Football Review Committee, chaired by Eugene McGee, offered a number of proposed rule changes to counter the growing trend of what is now known as 'cynical' fouling, and a new, black card will be introduced in competition from next year.

A black card will relate to offences such as tripping, deliberately colliding and pulling opponents down.

For the first three offences, a team will be able to replace the player who received a black card with a substitute. After that, the offenders will be sent-off with no replacement.

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