The debate about Joe Brolly’s pathetically one-sided “punditry” in the lead-up to last year’s All-Ireland final continues this morning, with responses to James Horan’s charges of bias and partiality against the Derry dunce coming from refs’ chief Pat McEnaney and from RTÉ. Neither of these stack up in my view.
McEnaney – as you’d expect – has rowed in, in this morning’s Irish Independent, with a rejection of James’ claim that the grinning clown’s anti-Mayo rant on RTÉ radio influenced Maurice Deegan’s handling of the final. But, sure, what else would you expect the chief apologist for the refereeing fraternity to say?
McEnaney – a man who knows better than most how to fuck up the refereeing of an All-Ireland final involving Mayo – states that the “yellow cards they picked up in the early stages of that game were clear-cut yellow cards. They could have no complaints.” That’s fine as it goes as long as our infringements were reffed in the same way that those by other teams were in previous All-Irelands, which transparently was not the case.
Remember, for example, Tadhg Kennelly punching Nicholas Murphy in the head right in front of Marty Duffy before the ball was thrown in at the start of the 2008 final? That was a straight red offence seen by the ref that didn’t even result in yellow. Or the way that Tyrone used every cynical and highly disruptive trick in the book in the 2008 final against Kerry? I recall a Kerryman beside me that day nearly having a seizure at what Tyrone were let do with complete impunity in the first half of that game. Or the endless cynical fouling that every other team in this year’s All-Ireland series took part in without facing the kind of one-sided punishment inflicted on us in the final? No complaints? I don’t think so, Pat.
The proof of the pudding on Brollixgate is surely how in the aftermath of the final the perpetrator himself – with his monstrous self-deluded ego – couldn’t resist crowing about his intervention. Writing in his column for a British Sunday newspaper the following weekend, Brolly claimed that our lads “were stopped in their tracks by referee Maurice Deegan” where their “first two tactical fouls in the first five minutes were greeted by immediate yellow cards and that, as they say, was that.” And tell us now Joe who put the ref up to this?
McEnaney’s intervention this morning is neither here nor there but there’s more than a little irony in the fact that it has come from a former referee whose own performance in an All-Ireland final left a whole load to be desired from a Mayo point of view. But that’s water under the bridge too, I suppose.
RTÉ’s intervention on the debate (reported on in the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner) is simply an arse-covering exercise but, this being RTÉ, they can’t even do that right. The charge made against them was that, as the so-called national broadcaster, they have a responsibility to ensure that what’s said on any issue is even-handed. Their half-hearted attempt at a placatory response is that Brolly is employed by them to provide his opinion and that while these opinions “may not always be shared by everyone in the audience or within the GAA … he is entitled to have those opinions”.
This completely misses the point: there’s no problem giving airtime to a maniacal loon like Brolly, providing they give equal airtime to someone (preferably not someone as certifiable) on the other side of this debate. This they failed to do at a crucial moment in time when someone in their pay was on a vendetta – which, by the way, I understand went well beyond his radio rant – to blacken our reputation and to get to the referee on the issue. That’s the point and it’s one that RTÉ have utterly ducked, just as they did when I and many others like me complained vociferously about Brolly’s caustic, derogatory and plain incorrect remarks about our team on TV the night of the league final. But, of course, that’s all in the past as well now and, sure, can’t we instead look forward to “the very good relationship” we apparently have with RTÉ continuing long into the future? Hmmm.