If there was any danger of complacency creeping into our collective mindset ahead of Sunday’s League clash with Tyrone at MacHale Park then ex-Red Hand great Peter Canavan, speaking last evening on the Off The Ball show on Newstalk, should put us to rights. While the Tyrone legend had plenty to say about his county’s ongoing slide from the summit in recent years, he also expressed the view that, despite the horror show against Monaghan at Healy Park on Saturday night, there’s sure to be “a sting in the tail” from the team and that “there’s no way that performance will be replicated” against us this coming weekend. We can, I think, consider ourselves well warned on that point.
Tyrone are also in the news today for other reasons, with the ongoing debate about the bang to the head suffered by Sean Cavanagh in the Monaghan game and the way in which the Moy clubman insisted – apparently overruling the medics in the process – that he was okay to continue. The way this incident was handled came in for scathing criticism from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland today, with a spokesperson for the group pointing to the potential fatal consequences that could have occurred. Little wonder, then, that the Tyrone County Board have come out with a statement this morning flatly denying that Cavanagh had been concussed at all. Hmm – the words of the late Mandy Rice-Davies come to mind in this context.
Clearly, issues around concussion don’t just relate to Tyrone, as we know too well ourselves, given what happened down in Limerick last year. This incident merely provides further proof that brain injuries (which is what a concussion is) aren’t being taken seriously across the board within the GAA and the fear is that – like so many things in this country – it’ll only be when something major happens that this will occur.
The Cavanagh affair also sheds a different kind of light on the way we used the blood sub rule to replace Evan Regan on Sunday. Sean Moran writing in today’s Irish Times makes the very valid point that medical personnel who are scrambled to deal with injuries like Evan’s don’t necessarily see using the blood sub option as an opportunity to pull a fast one. This take on what happened in Killarney on Sunday contrasts strongly with the strong whiff of paranoia put about by John Fogarty in yesterday’s Irish Examiner (where, not for the first time, this so-called national paper betrayed its Munster bias), not to mention the flat-footed bladder on the issue churned out a day later by our friend Martin Breheny in today’s Indo.
Finally, on a separate point entirely – did anyone see the Liam McHale feature on TG4’s Laochra Gael show last night? As I said when watching it last night, it evoked both painful and proud memories for me of that era, in which the Ballina man was such a central figure. Dammit all we were so bloody close to doing it then too. If anyone missed the show, it’s on again this coming Sunday on TG4 at 5.55pm and it’s also available to view on their Player (here).