herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Silence deafening after the storm

WHEN Mick O'Dowd said, "the great thing about Meath/Dublin matches is that whatever happens, there's never any whinging afterwards," he probably didn't imagine himself walking into a room full of journalists and declaring that one of his players had been bitten.

The irony is that in drawing as much public attention to the incident as O'Dowd has, he 
may well hurt himself and his team in the process.

The video footage of the melee during which the bite is alleged to have taken place shows Eoghan O'Gara receiving several heavy blows whilst being pinned down, with the cavalry slow to arrive.

Questions have also been asked, in light of pictorial evidence, as to Mickey Burke's precise actions during the unseemly fracas.

fist

Only seconds later, in the same line of footage, Andrew Tormey can be seen swinging a fist at Philly McMahon.

That Burke and O'Gara were booked by Pádraig Hughes complicates matters slightly on an investigative level, although the CCCC can - and are likely to - launch a probe regardless of whether any mention of the incident appears in the Armagh referee's report.

In likelihood, they will look into each element of the incident but doing nothing is, after Meath's complaint, no longer an option.

Unsurprisingly, nobody is saying anything on the matter. There was an explosion and now, an eerie silence. Croke Park are pedalling the customary "awaiting the referee's report" line.

Meath, meanwhile, are taking a back seat to the GAA's disciplinary processes.

And while Dublin are keeping schtum at all levels, privately they feel that their player was the victim of extreme provocation, a view overwhelmingly supported by the panel on that great GAA morale arbitrator, The Sunday Game.

The Dublin camp will also be highly miffed by O'Dowd's decision to go so public with the accusation. As Pillar Caffrey put it in his newspaper column yesterday: "It was disappointing that Mick O'Dowd went on record so quickly after the game. It wasn't in keeping with the counties' relationship."

Sunday was Dublin's 12th game in succession without a black card, a stat with which Jim Gavin will be proud, but the Dublin manager has been down this particular route before.

Offence

Only the unwillingness of Paddy McBrearty to appear in front of the Central Hearings Committee last year stopped Kevin O'Brien being banned for three matches for what was deemed a category three offence.

There is no reason to suggest that the CCCC would downgrade the severity of the sanction for a bite this time around, if proven.

Back in January, Jason Whelan accepted an eight-week ban after under Rule 7.2 Category III (vii) - 'inflicting injury recklessly' after an investigation into an incident of alleged biting in an O'Byrne Cup game against DCU.

For Dublin, a repeat would deprive them of an important player for the rest of their All-Ireland defence. For Meath, the complaint could open up an unhelpful can of worms. body's a winner.

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