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
Seán Cavanagh, the target of Brolly’s displeasure for the 49th-minute rugby tackle on Conor McManus, bluntly stated his terms of engagement in an interview on Newstalk radio.
“It is cynical play. It’s unfortunate. I don’t want to play football like that… unfortunately the rules of GAA dictate that (when a man is through on goal) a yellow card does not mean that much to you.”
There has been something akin to a Pentecostal rush amongst players and former players to testify that they too would bring down the disappearing attacker if they had to. Some of this has been public and some has been in private conversation and gradually the rules have disappeared through the looking-glass to become an irritating – if admittedly optional – restraint on players ‘doing what has to be done’.
In a way this isn’t surprising. Breaking rules to suit oneself offers the possibility of advancement in all societies – as we are all too painfully aware. Therefore breaking rules has to be culminate in disadvantage; otherwise we end up with the current situation in Gaelic games in which many evidently believe that cheating is worthwhile.
Seán Cavanagh is saying that as a player more sinned against than sinning, he would prefer a regime where the punishment for what he did actually did mean something to him. Were the black card in force, would it have been worth it for Tyrone to lose their best player for the last 20 minutes of the match in order to avoid conceding two points?
The 2008 Footballer of the Year also blew apart his manager’s view of the issue, as expressed last March.
Ironically the congress debate on the black cards took place in a context in which Tyrone a week previously on an earlier visit to Croke Park this season had held Dublin out at the end of a league match and in the process committed a number of calculated infractions.
“I believe that referees have a yellow card to deal with the personal, deliberate foul,” said Harte afterwards. “And I think that will suffice. If it happens that somebody commits one in the last minute of the game, that’s the exception, not the rule.”
This was despite three of his players having been yellow carded in the last three minutes for cynical play.
They’re not the only ones but they have put themselves in the spotlight in recent weeks by exploiting the notoriously lax status quo, which as a county they sought to defend at Congress.
Nor is this selective criticism: when the new rules take effect they won’t apply just to Tyrone but to every county. And football will be better for that.