SLIGO football boss Kevin Walsh exited this year's championship race with a parting shot at the GAA's perceived failure to crack down on cynicism in the inter-county game, writes Frank Roche.
The former Galway great complained that pulling, dragging and cynical blocks are going unpunished by match officials. "I'm just saying that, absolutely, it needs to be wiped out," he declared.
Walsh's ire was provoked by a red card for defender Charlie Harrison, who lashed back in frustration at Kildare skipper Johnny Doyle during Saturday's fourth round qualifier. However, TV replays suggested that Doyle's initial attempt to pull back Harrison's run scarcely warranted the former All Star's retaliatory strike into the stomach.
With Doyle left on the ground requiring treatment, linesman Derek Fahy brought the flashpoint to the attention of referee David Coldrick, who brandished a straight red card. Sligo were attacking at the time and were subsequently awarded a free-in during the same play.
Asked for his response, Walsh declared: "If you're being pulled and dragged all over the place, and you happen to lash out and the lash-out goes the wrong place, all of a sudden it's a red card. Fair play, RTé will play it back and they'll say yes, the ref was right and the linesman was right. But maybe it's time that they stood up and be counted.
"It's nothing got to do with the result," he clarified, "but there is certain stuff creeping into the game that has got to be dealt with by the eyes and the authorities that are out there. And it's not being fully dealt with."
The two-time All-Ireland winner was referring to "cynical blocks, cynical pull-backs, complete pulling and tugging ... and maybe someone might throw an arm back to release themselves, I don't know exactly what happened there, but it's been going on for a long time.
And then the hand may hit the wrong part, and it's a pity that with all the technology they can't deal with it, face up to it and stop the play."
Walsh conceded it wasn't a feature of the Hyde Park clash, but believes jersey-pulling is now endemic.
"It's in the law, pulling a jersey is a yellow card offence. It's being let go left, right and centre by umpires," he argued. "Unless this thing is stamped out, you're not going to see good forward play."