Brolly’s message shouldn’t be lost in the medium
Having vigorously defended the farcical status quo Tyrone must also take responsibility for their on-field actions
Joe Brolly’s denunciation was directed at the fact that in successive weeks at Croke ParkTyrone had been guilty of conspicuous infractions, most highly-profiled by the rugby tackles of Seán Cavanagh. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Why Tyrone? Joe Brolly understands the mechanics of outrage well enough to appreciate that his timely outburst and unarguable concerns about the malaise of cynical play would arouse some vocal antipathy, which in turn would create a more widespread if private acceptance.
Had his point not been made in such an incendiary fashion, would it have attracted the same level of attention? Probably not. Is his point valid? Absolutely, and the complete absence of substantive – as opposed to stylistic – rebuttal indicates as much.
For a long time, observance of discipline within Gaelic games has been compromised by the dismal inadequacy of the punishments for breaking the rules of fair play.
As a natural consequence disregard for the rules has flourished and there has developed an unquestioning assumption that the Official Guide is an obstacle to be circumvented rather than a framework within which the games are expected to take place.
It was this landscape that the Football Review Committee sought to address when it brought forward a package of measures to counter cynical fouling, including the black card, which will be introduced next January and will punish pulling down, tripping and deliberately colliding with opposing players.
There’s a reasonable case to be made that these reforms should only be the start of a process to tighten up on cynical fouling, eg the introduction of suspension for cumulative yellow cards, but that will await the outcome of the new rules’ enforcement.
Why Tyrone? Brolly’s denunciation was directed at the fact that in successive weeks at Croke Park the county had been guilty of conspicuous infractions, most highly-profiled by the rugby tackles of Seán Cavanagh.
If this was to give the impression that such behaviour was the preserve of Tyrone and their leading player, such a perception would be wrong but it is not wrong to say that the county has demonstrated remarkable insouciance about such breaches of rule.
It may infuriate manager Mickey Harte that he has been asked to respond to strident, hot-of-the-airwaves punditry on successive weekends but equally, he has demonstrated a casual attitude towards the problem, most recently in taking a shoulder shrugging attitude to cynical fouls in the qualifier with Meath 11 days ago.
“It happened during the game. Both sides were guilty of it from time to time. So what?”
Last Saturday he again evinced the same reluctance to take responsibility for his own team, instead indulging in ‘what-about-ery’.
“Look at the game in its entirety and tell me how did the balance of fouling add up; give me the statistics of the whole game and then I will talk about the individual instances,” was his response to questions about the rugby tackling in the Monaghan quarter-final.
“It’s a worry that there is so much focus on little things (sic) that happened in the game and I’d like to think if you really forensically examine the whole game you might find other things of the same nature that you speak about. So I wish you would talk about the good game that we had there today and stop delving into the negativity.”