Time for the GAA to get real? It certainly is that . . .
WILL this Sunday's Ulster quarter-final between Cavan and Monaghan be a watershed in how players behave towards each other?
Will we see a new approach and insistence from managers and county officials that players respect the efforts of their amateur counterparts and play within the rules of the game?
Unlikely, is my honest answer and I must confess to watching last Sunday's prelim in Ballybofey with an ever increasing sense of regret for the game of Gaelic football.
The first half was more than decent, included some smashing points from both teams and two brilliant goals also. But the half-time brawl, the continuous targeting of Michael Murphy (by Justin McMahon) and Seán Cavanagh (by any Donegal man close enough to annoy him but you could rely on the two McGees to be in the vicinity of just about any altercation) in the second half and defensive postures that begged belief.
And yet the great contradiction is the venue was a sell-out. 'Paddy' loves the tribal battle with his near neighbour and bragging rights are all that matter. The post-Sunday narrative has suggested we in the south need to cop on to ourselves and get real about how the game is played. Indeed.
Many of the key moments in our games are currently being played outside the rules of fair and foul play and I would prefer to offer an opinion that seeks to recover the game for those interested in playing it to its great potential.
Starting this weekend, the GAA needs to get real and insist that the games are played in the right spirit and within the framework of the rules book.
Otherwise we have chaos, indiscipline, ugly scenes and games that will eventually turn the spectators away.
You might have had a full house last Sunday and perhaps another one this Sunday in Cavan, but take it from me you won't have a full house when Tyrone decide to play blanket defence against a Leitrim or Carlow in the first round of the qualifiers. And the many rounds beyond that.
Time to get real? It sure is.