Sometimes, life can be tough. And quite often, problems, worries and indeed highly embarrassing incidents can be self-inflicted.
Little wonder, then, that Armagh supporters have felt disappointed and deflated over the course of this past week despite their team’s heroic performance against Galway in last Sunday’s absorbing All-Ireland Football Quarter-Final at Croke Park.
This was a game that had everything but the only real problem is that it had something that we could well have done without.
The unseemly fracas at the entrance to the dressing rooms on the Cusack Stand side of the pitch at the end of normal time detracted from what I feel had up until then been the most riveting match of the year by a country mile.
Thrills, spills, spectacular scores, superb individual performances, a memorable comeback by Armagh when they appeared to be on their knees — yes, it was top-flight sport at its best.
What a great pity, though, that since referee David Coldrick sounded his whistle to denote Galway’s triumph in a nerve-tingling penalty shoot-out, discussion has focused not on the many plus points but on the shame and dishonour that the melee brought on those involved, and indeed the GAA as a sporting body.
And I feel that the vitriol to which Armagh’s Tiernan Kelly in particular has been subjected on social media in the interim is almost as bad as the apparent eye-gouging incident against Damien Comer in which he was involved.
Yes, it looked horrendous — let’s call a spade a spade here — but the abuse meted out to him has been scandalous. He has now been hit with a six-month ban, a heavy punishment which will not be appealed.
As I understand it — and I want to be fair here — Kelly has been in touch with Galway to apologise for what happened.
In all, four players have been the recipients of proposed sanctions. Armagh duo Blaine Hughes and Conor Turbitt, both of whom were substitutes on the day, were identified and charged while Galway squad member Cathal Sweeney has also been served with a proposed suspension. All three have been charged with behaving dangerously towards an opponent which carries a one-match ban.
The Armagh county board, for its part, lost no time in issuing a short statement to the effect that its players have accepted their penalties.
“Following the investigation carried out by the CCCC, Armagh GAA can confirm the players and county board have accepted the proposed penalties. There will be no further comment,” the statement reads.
The Galway and Armagh boards were notified, too, of proposed one-match bans for Sean Kelly and Aidan Nugent. But Galway skipper Kelly has already successfully appealed against his one-match ban and will now lead his side into action against Derry in the All-Ireland Semi-Final next Saturday which gives an indication of how the judicial process can be stepped up.
Meanwhile, Armagh joint skipper Nugent will serve his one-match ban as will his team colleague Greg McCabe, who had incurred a red card during the game for a high challenge on a Galway player that was deemed to be dangerous.
Both the Armagh and Galway county boards have also been served with heavy financial penalties understood to be in the region of €10,000.
I have noted that a number of distinguished people from An Taoiseach Micheal Martin down, including former GAA President Sean Kelly and Meath legend Colm O’Rourke, have not been slow to air their views — as they are entitled to — but several of those involved in the melee certainly did not go into the game with the intention of bringing the sport into disrepute.
I have no wish to minimise what occurred — it was both disturbing and disgraceful in equal measure — but I believe a lot of players acted in the heat of the moment.
What we witnessed last Sunday in our biggest sporting stadium and on one of the red-letter days in the GAA annual calendar brought only shame and disgrace on those involved.
We all make mistakes and indeed some people can over-react in certain circumstances. Let’s just say, though, that trial by social media is an experience none of us would want to face, irrespective of what wrong we might have committed.
There are channels through which justice can be done and penalties meted out without someone having their character, reputation and status vilified because of what takes place spontaneously.
I for one hope that players all over the island, irrespective of what level they play at, will have taken on board Sunday’s terrible scenes and do their best to ensure GAA is shown in the best possible light going forward.