Monday 15 October 2018

Just when you thought Connolly saga was dead ...

Diarmuid Connolly in action against Carlow earlier this month. Photo: Sportsfile
Diarmuid Connolly in action against Carlow earlier this month. Photo: Sportsfile

We hoped we had written the words 'Diarmuid Connolly saga' for the last ti me. Then up popped Jim Gavin to stoke the embers ...

It's hard to second-guess the exact motivation(s) behind his missive against media coverage of that incident. Clearly, the Dublin boss believes his player was wronged, the victim of trial-by-TV more than the author of his own misfortune.

"I'm not condoning what happened," he said ... but he was far more interested in condemning Colm O'Rourke and, more especially, Pat Spillane.

Has he a point? Well, on the specifics of that particular Sunday Game, it would have been far better (for optics, if nothing else) if you didn't have two pundits adopting such a similar stance. Maybe if a Dublin voice - Ciarán Whelan's, for example - had received an 11th hour call-up, there would have been less reason for such Sky Blue fury.

But the notion that RTÉ should silently await the referee's report or even longer, for the deliberations of the CCCC, would be faintly ridiculous. How they cover such incidents is another matter: there is an onus on RTÉ, and every other media organ, to provide fair, factual reportage and also commentary that isn't biased.

(As an aside, Sunday night's critique of their veteran Kerry pundit was every bit as lopsided as the original studio debate, but that's for the Montrose hierarchy to figure out themselves.)

Gavin is known for keeping a gimlet eye on Dublin's media dealings but he can't control what happens when controversial incidents are captured on camera. They don't just appear on TV; they go viral. This one was the talk of social media before the Dublin/Carlow match had even ended.

Dubs may object to Sky Sports' forensic focus but the satellite broadcaster was within its rights to quote the relevant rule relating to "minor physical interference" ... this is how journalism works, and every reporter at the game would have been trawling the same Official Guide.

This is not the first such saga that has caused ructions and won't be the last. There tends to be a recurring theme of shoot the messenger and The Sunday Game usually gets it in the neck, invariably blamed for the eventual suspension even if the relevant GAA committee vehemently protests to the contrary.


Is the show that influential? Maybe so. But that doesn't mean it should ignore incidents that every TV viewer can already see.

It doesn't help that its team of pundits were all high-profile stars. Thus, if Spillane gets stuck into Connolly, it will be viewed in some capital quarters as Kerry out to get the Dubs. If the boot was on the other foot, a Kerry or Mayo manager might even call it an orchestrated campaign!

The Connolly story was about to fade into the background until Gavin - quite deliberately, because he does nothing by accident - flung it back centre-stage.

He was perfectly entitled to air his view. But so, too, was Pat Spillane.

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