Thursday 21 March 2019

Dublin chief Kettle: Onus is on Donegal to prove that McBrearty was actually bitten

Chairman of Dublin County Board Andy Kettle. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Chairman of Dublin County Board Andy Kettle. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

BALLYBOFEY 'Bitegate' has rumbled on into a second day after the Dublin county board's top elected official rejected the incendiary accusation that Donegal footballer Paddy McBrearty was bitten by a Sky Blue opponent during last Sunday's Allianz League clash.

After awaking to a morning of damaging headlines, chairman Andy Kettle laid his cards firmly on the table yesterday.

Firstly, as matters stand, he doesn't believe there is any incident to investigate. Secondly, his understanding is that the Dublin medic who examined McBrearty's shoulder in the Donegal dressing-room saw a "bruise, not a laceration".

Finally – and perhaps most tellingly – Kettle gave an emphatic answer when asked to clarify if, at the moment, he did not accept there was a bite?

"No," he replied, speaking at a Gibson Hotel press conference where reporters were interested in just one question – and it wasn't the announcement of ROS Nutrition as the official sports nutrition partner of the Dublin football team.

Cue the obvious follow-up question – why would reports of the alleged incident have leaked out from Donegal if nothing happened? "I don't accept that something did happen," Kettle said. "And until I am asked officially to investigate by the Donegal county board, I won't be doing anything."


He denied there would be pressure on Dublin to identify a player, adding: "First of all, was there an incident? That has to be established."

But if there was a bruise mark?

"Well, it was a hard pitch," he countered. "Some of our guys had bruises on their bodies as well, but I wouldn't say that any of those were as a result of anything happening between them and Donegal players."

Asked if there was an onus to prove it was a bite, he replied: "Correct."

The unanswered conundrum is what happens next?

Donegal made their displeasure known on the day, both to referee Pádraig Hughes at half-time and then, at full-time, to standby referee Michael Duffy who took over the whistle following a freak injury to Hughes.

Their understanding is that McBrearty's injury will be mentioned in the referee's report, in which case the Central Competitions Control Committee must decide if an investigation is warranted. Whatever about the CCCC, Donegal's next move will be equally intriguing.

Various reports have referred to photographs being taken of McBrearty's shoulder and of a subsequent visit to Letterkenny Hospital; how do you reconcile that with Dublin's staunch position as outlined yesterday?

Leaving aside the core issue of how McBrearty suffered his wound, Dublin have made clear their disappointment at how the story emerged, claiming GAA protocol for handling such issues (via county board officials) wasn't followed.

"The first notice I got from it was a call from a journalist (on Monday) afternoon. I was very surprised when I got the call that something was supposed to have happened that we weren't informed through the official channels," Kettle outlined.

"Since that I have heard on radio that the Dublin management were informed. That is not my understanding. I spoke to our team manager (Jim Gavin) and as far as he was concerned he was not informed of any potential incident."

He confirmed that Dublin's team medic (not David Hickey, who wasn't in attendance on the day) did visit the Donegal dressing-room.

"My understanding is that he saw a bruise, not a laceration, a bruise. I am surprised that Donegal county board have not officially contacted Dublin county board and, as far as we're concerned, officially, there is nothing to be investigated at the moment."

He said the Dublin manager was not made aware of any incident by his Donegal counterpart, accepting that Gavin "may have been" subsequently informed by the Dublin medic, but "certainly not while they were in the park". "We have to wait and see the referee's report and see what's in it," Kettle reminded. "It will be up to Central CCC to do something – if they wish to do something. They may not do anything with it."

Watch this space ...

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