Joe Brolly has always been able to hit the headlines better than most. His latest outburst on the Saturday Ggame about Sean Cavanagh has caused a lot of debate on whether he was correct or not.
First of all I would have to say I think Joe is probably one of the best pundits that is on the television. He tells it like it is and when Spillane, O’Rourke and Co. were having a go at Donegal in the last few years he stood up for the Ulster side as he has always done.
In the past he has defended the tactics of both Tyrone and Armagh when the entire country were up in arms about blanket defences and tackling in numbers when the opposition had the ball.
He always has been able to keep his cool and has been able at times to silence the best of them.
While the sequence of events have become clearer in the last week or more about what happened in the lead up to Joe’s outburst, it would be clear that there was certainly some crossed lines in the RTE studio between all concerned.
Late last week Joe was interviewed on the radio and he didn’t withdraw what he said but gave a greater insight into what happened on the day.
He explained that if Sean Cavanagh got the man of the match award he was going to have his say on what he perceived to be an injustice and a disgrace that anyone who would get away with such a tackle preventing a clear goal scoring opportunity was wrong.
He did have his say but he may have went a bit too far in my opinion. While I agree the tackle was poor and the fact that Cavanagh clearly knew what he was doing, he only did what thousands of footballers have been doing for years.
Joe was also correct in suggesting that the game has been destroyed by such tackling in the last number of years but he is certainly not correct in suggesting that this is a modern epidemic. It’s like, I said, going on for years only I would suggest that you get away with it less now than you did before
The badness that was in the game when I started playing inter-county has been well cleaned up and today’s players are certainly more disciplined in many aspects of the game but maybe there is a more cynical edge to the way the game is played now.
I know everyone will have their own opinion on what Cavanagh did and I’m sure it was discussed all over the country but was it fair for Brolly to make such a personalised attack on Cavanagh.
Joe should know it is not how you play the game that counts, it’s about winning and if anyone thinks otherwise they’re conning themselves.
There is not a player in the country, whether he plays Gaelic football, hurling, soccer or rugby, that would not have done the same as Cavanagh if they were in the same position. Every player that trains for whatever sport don’t do it just to take part; they want to be successful.
Did Jim McGuinness just take on the Donegal job for the honour? Of course not, he wanted to be a winner and that was the drive behind his ambition.
Sean Cavanagh as a footballer is no different and his manager Mickey Harte would have given him a earful if he hadn’t fouled McManus and he went on to score a goal that could have put them out of the championship.
By making such a statement all Joe really did was lift what has become a very mundane TV show; the only criticism is fired at players, the way they tackle or they don’t; the lack of quality in the way they pass or kick the ball; the lack of quality forwards out there and what the manager should do .
Of course any criticism of a match official is now frowned upon. As a follow on from the tackle the debate over the black card has started all over again and the pro-black card side have called to make the powers greater but I will remain a sceptic about the introduction of the black card as managers will devise different tactics to counteract the new system.
Anyway there are people out there who seem to think that there is a huge problem with Gaelic football and are in a great hurry to tidy it up.
If you listen to those that follow hurling they have a more positive look at how they play the game; the pundits on television and radio always seem to pick out the better things of the game but when the football people are on they seem more content in picking out the negative aspects of the game and there always seems to be a view that it was better in the past.
It will be interesting now when Tyrone play Mayo in the All- Ireland semi final; there will be huge pressure on the match officials, especially now that the so-called systematic tackling that Tyrone are supposed to employ in the match tactics have being exposed.
Every time Sean Cavanagh goes to tackle one of the Mayo players in that game the referee is going to have to be seen to be doing something, which could be a deciding factor.
This whole debate could have a real knock on effect on the destination of the Sam Maguire this year.