Monday 11 December 2017

Bitegate casting shadow over Dubs

Acts of indiscipline can't be tolerated

SO, what do we know for sure about the latest biting allegation involving a Dublin player? Well, for sure that when it comes to this modern scourge on the football field it is fair to say the Dubs have form.

Back in April last year Dublin defender Kevin O'Brien was the subject of a a proposed three-match ban for an alleged biting incident on Donegal's Paddy McBrearty during a NFL game up in Ballybofey.

Because it was never proven (Donegal's Paddy McBrearty failed to show up at the hearing to provide evidence - yet another case of county officials and their senior managements avoiding their responsibilities to the game) the proposed sanction was revoked by the CAC (Central Appeals Committee).

We did not have to wait long for the next incident. In January of this year, another Dublin player, this time Ballymun Kickhams attacker Jason Whelan, was given an eight-week ban following another investigation into biting allegations v DCU in an O'Byrne Cup match. This ban stuck.

Last Sunday, when Meath manager Mick O'Dowd claimed in front of the assembled press that his player (safe enough at this stage to say it was Mickey Burke) was bitten on the finger be sure he would have checked with both the player and team doctor before making such a claim. It's pretty certain then that a biting incident took place.

But in an effort to throw some light rather than heat on to the debate, let me offer this end state, which will take perhaps a week to reach: there will be no ban arising from this incident for a number of reasons:

• Impossible to say using video evidence that such an incident took place at all and the referee is unlikely to have spotted it in real time.

• A yellow card was issued and so the retrospective examination becomes hindered.

• Co-operation from GAA members will be at a minimum.

What happens now then? The referee's report will be an important but not critical document. The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) will examine it and may also discuss using video/witness statements (from among their own committee) and decide to investigate further and perhaps propose a sanction.

Or maybe they will decide it is futile to pursue an investigation in the absence of cooperation from either/both teams, or a lack of evidence. My experience tells me this will be a very difficult case to prosecute and the CCCC will find it very hard to make any sanction stick at Central Hearings Committee (CHC). So, you would be thinking: "Good luck with that lads".

It's is yet another appalling example of the way indiscipline is tolerated by GAA members. Dublin will not offer up the culprit - indeed they have a recent history of seeking hearings for just about any sanction issued to one of their panellists. Equally, Meath are unlikely to provide the instigator, if indeed there was one.

The GAA's top official, Páraic Duffy, noted in his annual report the fact Paddy McBrearty was bitten in the above-mentioned NFL game was established beyond doubt. Yet no sanction stuck due to this omerta that exists among inter-county squads.

It's a sad day for Gaelic football and certainly takes away greatly from the Dublin performance. I am among the large majority who hugely 
admire the way they play the modern game - it may well be to the highest standard of all time. But their tolerance/approval (displayed by a reluctance to deal with matters head on) takes away from the overall grá we have for them.

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