IT NOW appears that Kerry footballer Tadhg Kennelly has joined former NBA star Charles Barkley among the select group of sportspeople who have claimed they were misquoted in their own autobiographies.

The Kerry footballer has spent much of the week rowing back on his confession he intentionally charged into Nicholas Murphy at the start of last month’s All-Ireland football final, issuing a statement on Tuesday night which went into some detail on the subject.

For the record, last weekend, in an excerpt from his autobiography published in a Sunday paper,
Kennelly admitted he had set out to put down a marker in the
All-Ireland final by charging into the first Cork player he could, which turned out to be Nicholas Murphy, whom he caught with a shoulder to the jaw in the opening seconds of the game.

Subsequently Kennelly said: “I gave an interview to the Australian ghost writer Scotty Gallon.

“I didn’t read it over as I should have, and the first account I saw of the incident was on last Sunday morning.

“Scotty used an expression ‘cop that’ to describe my feelings immediately after I connected with Nicholas. I said no such thing.

“The challenge, I admit, was over the top. I was too pumped up.”

It’s a little bit late for Kennelly to start finessing his position. Claiming he had no intention of injuring anyone while simultaneously
admitting he caught Murphy with his shoulder on the jaw, an
extremely dangerous challenge,
undercuts subsequent protestations of innocence more than somewhat.

It also undercuts something else: a county’s reputation.

This newspaper has been contacted by several Kerry natives wishing to express their disappointment with Kennelly, while on the county’s biggest GAA internet messageboard the reaction early in the week was also been overwhelmingly negative.

Even his manager, Jack O’Connor (himself no stranger to, er,
autobiography-based controversy) said it was “not the Kerry way”.

Kennelly’s team-mates will not have had their hearts gladdened by his admissions either, as evidenced by his pointed reference to Paul Galvin in the original text, which carried a whiff of implication, though the former AFL star moved swiftly to exonerate of his team-mate in his statement.

AS of next year’s league,
referees all over the
country will be spending a fraction of a second longer
weighing up whether accidental collisions and borderline tackles by the team in green and gold are
intentional or not.

Their opponents may not be
inclined to grant even a momentary benefit of the doubt.

If the row casts a shadow over what appeared to be fairy-tale story of All-Ireland success, that’s
unfortunate.

If it leads to
confrontations on the field of play, that would be truly unfortunate.

Kennelly may also suffer because of what is happening in another sport: we’ve been hearing rugby pundits for some time ponder
“intent” when it comes to
controversial incidents, citing legal problems in establishing a player’s intentions when placing his feet or fingers.

Intention isn’t an issue when you round off your description with “cop that”.

What we would really like to know, however, is the reaction of a man in the southeast of the country.

As Brian Cody sips his coffee and leafs through his Examiner this morning, he might ponder that Kerry’s footballer of the year, Paul Galvin, was suspended for most of last season and sent off in this year’s Munster football final replay.

Their totemic midfielder, Darragh Ó Sé, came under scrutiny
following an incident against Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The internal suspension of two more players, both former
Footballers of the Year, was well publicised.

And now a player employed as a coach by the Kerry County Board admits a premeditated assault on an opponent at the start of the
All-Ireland final.

One can imagine the Kilkenny manager putting his newspaper down with a frown to muse aloud: and they said my team were playing on the edge?

Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie; Twitter: MikeMoynihanEx

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Michael Moynihan

Cracking the whip on GAA’s disciplinary obsession

FOR THOSE with an eye for unfortunate double entendres in sport, the GAA obsession with discipline must be a godsend.

Discipline, discipline, discipline. There’s been so much talk about this for the last few weeks, it’s like listening to Dr Montague in Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety shouting “Too much bondage, not enough discipline,” on a permanent loop.

It’s the opposite problem in the GAA: far too much discipline
(the bondage I leave to your
imagination).

The shuddering halt — if such it is — to the Paul Galvin story
yesterday leads to the unavoidable conclusion that application of the rules within the GAA is as
haphazard as it ever was.

Galvin is unlikely to pursue any further appeals, and it’s easy to see why.

The toll taken on an individual by that kind of media focus for the last few weeks can only be guessed at.

That focus only occurred because of Galvin’s actions in the game against Clare, of course, which is why it’s necessary to differentiate between two separate issues.

One is the ham-fisted application of a sanction and the huge pressure that placed on a person who no doubt felt unfairly isolated.

Last year the ‘Semplegate’ issue rumbled on and on until the night before Cork were scheduled to take on Waterford in the Munster
hurling championship.

The actual incident took place on May 27, and that next round was on June 17.

Paul Galvin’s sending off took place on June 15 against Clare; the day before yesterday, July 30, he was finally ruled out of action for three months, four days before Kerry’s first outing in the qualifiers.

But at least there were several Cork and Clare players in that
situation. Galvin has been on his own.

In addition, last year we were told that the GAA had taken cognisance of the delay in dealing with the Cork situation, and that such delays would not occur again.

Some chance. (Incidentally,
nobody seems willing to talk about the Semplegate sequel we had last Sunday in Thurles, when a
Wexford player and Waterford
player clashed before coming out.

You’d be inclined to hope that that was because of an outbreak of common sense, as nothing really happened.

Pity we didn’t have a bit more common sense when it happened the last time, eh?).

The other issue, however, is the fact that the Galvin saga happened because the player was sent off in the first place.

We’re not about to rehash all the arguments about what happened that day in Fitzgerald Stadium, nor are we going to get into another wearying go-around on the
character of the Kerry captain.

But there has been a gradual blurring of the issues, suggesting that as it’s taken so long to arrive at any kind of determination in this case, then it’s only fair to the man to halve his sentence anyway from six months to three months.

The upshot of the last few weeks is that the de facto disciplinary sanction for hitting the notebook out of a referee’s hands and roaring into his and his linesman’s face is now three months. Does that sound right?

You may have noticed, by the way, that 50,000 was generated in legal costs in three cases which went to the DRA recently.

Those figures are paid by the county boards in question, by the way, but surely the GAA as a
corporate entity could pay some parliamentary draftsmen, barristers and solicitors the going rate to sit in a room for a couple of days to hammer out a real, robust GAA constitution — without the
hilarious procedural gaps and holes being found nowadays?

If it’s the expense the GAA is worrying about, set that against the damage to the organisation’s
reputation and see which is more cost-effective.

If discipline can be sorted, all that would be left to deal with is bondage. Though that might just be us.

contact:
michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

12-03-2004
Colm O’Connor

Case for defence rings
hollow

 

IT’S hardly surprising Paul Galvin got the book thrown at him this week. After all,
throwing the book was what got him into trouble in the first place.

First things first: mentioning Galvin’s day job as a teacher in
connection with last Sunday is grossly unfair. Players with other professions aren’t held to a higher standard when they line out for their counties.

Neither are pundits. Nobody asks Joe Brolly if it’s appropriate for a
barrister to offer personalised criticism of GAA players.

Unfortunately, therefore, it was a tactical error or poor advice, or both, that led to Galvin mentioning the fact that he trains the school team on RTÉ. He’d have ben far better off pointing out — rightly — that his nine to five job has no bearing at half-three on a Sunday.

Then again, some of the other defences offered on his behalf this week are worse. Take the ‘reputation preceding him defence’, for example — Galvin has a bad name, ergo he suffers more at the hands of referees and opponents than other players.

Unfortunately, the suggestion that Galvin is more sinned against than sinning doesn’t hold up. In almost 30 inter-county championship games for Kerry he has been sent off only twice, and that includes last Sunday against Clare, which hardly denotes a player whose photograph rests on referees’ dartboards.

As for opponents, Galvin himself has apologised since the game and
offered frustration as the cause of his actions. But he also knows stepping onto the field of play what kind of
attention he’s likely to receive.

Earlier this year in an interview he referred to an incident in a game against Limerick some years ago in which opponents got involved with him, seeking a reaction; as that realisation dawned, in words which have a grim ring to them today, Galvin said: “I really learned a lesson that day.”

The reputation argument is closely related to the ‘unfair to miss a season’ defence. Every player wants to play; should the rules be set aside to make them all happy?

The fact that Galvin spent six months preparing for last Sunday’s game could easily pop up in the prosecution brief — having invested that much in getting himself right, should he not have prepared himself mentally for the overwhelming likelihood that an opponent was likely to try to frustrate him?

Reinforcing the point made above, John Kiely, the Waterford manager, put the case eloquently for opposing coaches when he told this newspaper: “If you are in charge of any team playing Kerry you will always try and agitate a player like Paul Galvin. That is sad but true.”

That last defence is linked to the old ‘without that edge he’d be half the player’ chestnut, an eye-rollingly misguided sports myth.

Having the discipline to operate within the rules is a prerequisite in any sport. The most violent sporting confrontations occur in the boxing ring, where the rules must be followed. Why should field games be any different?

Managers down the years have always stressed the importance of having all their players on the field of play; revisit Galvin’s early-season interview and there’s another admission — the realisation that he could cost Kerry games through indiscipline — which reads now like a glow-in-the-dark hostage to fortune.

The only vaguely workable defence offered so far is inconsistency in punishment (though we must have been home from school the day someone decided the GAA was a model of jurisprudence), with Brendan Devenney’s six months for pushing a referee in 2004 the main witness.

Inconsistency advocates are right, but not in the way they think: Devenney should have been punished more severely for that indiscretion. Six months was a light sentence.

Paul Galvin’s suspension is harsh, but it’s justified. Nobody knows that better than he does.

“I have done things that have got me in trouble,” he said earlier this year. “I’ve got away with things too. I don’t claim to be victimised.”

contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie