Backlashes and banged heads

Tyrone v MonaghanPhoto: RTÉ

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).

33 thoughts on “Backlashes and banged heads

  1. Simply ridiculous that they are denying Cavanagh had concussion. The photo above alone would suggest there was a strong risk he had concussion. He doesn’t look like someone fully aware of what’s happening.
    I’v witnessed a ladies player being played on by her management in a game her side was being trashed in after being hit accidentally on the bridge of the nose almost breaking her nose and collapsing her backwards to the ground. After treatment by medical personnel her manager played her for the rest of that game and one more subsequent match (twas a blitz type tournament). The same manager was roaring abuse to get medical personel there as fast as possible (medic ran there from his location as quick as possible) and then he had the gall to not take the player off.
    There needs to be an independent doctor/medic at games who makes a call on these things. Anyone receiving a sufficient blow to the head area is not going to miraculously avoid concussion. Some of the hits you can suffer by accident on a GAA pitch (either hitting a player or the ground) are equivalent in force to a good solid punch to the head.

  2. I’m not concerned about all the hype about them going on about a back lash. Empty vessels make most noise!

  3. To be fair, I’d rate the Examiner’s GAA coverage above most others’ any day of the week, and while I know that some of you might have beef with Fogarty, I mostly find him pretty fair and thoughtful in his analysis.

    I’m at a loss however in this instance to figure out why the “worry” around our exploitation (not breaking) of a rule that exists and is open to every other county and manager to similarly exploit. Yes, we have form in this regard, but then, our reaching SF stage every year has led to our incurring of a significant number of injuries too. It’s being painted as something sinister when in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to cynicism, we could be doing a hell of a lot more if you ask me.

    I’d suggest, like others, that if John is so concerned about implementation of the rules, he might turn his attention more urgently towards the black card side of the house.

  4. I think tyrone players have not got that edge of the 2000s and as for Mickey harte to try and spur them on with clippings from a newspaper? doubtful, he dropped some good players last week and this will probably be his last year imo. Its very hard to replace the mass of great players that Tyrone had in the 2000s, unless your”e Kerry where even a middlin player can become a great by dent of the quality around him.

  5. I would imagine in this day and age that a head injury assessment tool is used as a standard to determine the management of a player getting a bang on the head, The use of the term “concussion” may be unhelpfull as its a bit further down the road and should not be the sole object of the assessment. In their statement the Tyrone co board say that Cavanagh was tester using Scat3 which is a pretty serious tool for assesing head injury and if as they say he tested negative accross the board, and at 1/2 time then thats a strong argument for play on lad.
    In Limerick I was a few rows back from Aido on the sidlene being asssessed for what seemed like hours by our medic before being allowed on again, so I think its safe to assume that best practise was followed. Assuming that the medical team keep a paper trail of these tests with times,dates & signitures it should safely inform their decision to either take the player off,sent him to hospital or play on.It should also prove useful in any followup investigation of events.
    In fact there is probably a devoloping agrument here for a head injury sub.

  6. I definitely feel strongly on the topic of concussion. Second impact syndrome is when it gets serious, and if a player plays on there is a huge chance that they could get another knock to the head. I suffered a bad concussion in a minor match years ago. I didn’t play on but of course I pretended that I was fine and went county training a day and a half later. I ended up in hospital for five days!! Unfortunately, like most things, something serious will probably have to happen before this is dealt with!

  7. Examiner is good, but you don’t have to wait long for the Munster, (and especially Cork), bias to surface.

    Check out the coverage of Cork hurlers, particularly on Tuesdays after big games, generally big games they’ve won. Every dog and devil will be rounded up to tell us why Cork are the chosen people. For really vintage stuff check out the archives when the Canon was in charge and Babs was managing Tipp.

  8. In fairness, how is that different to any Dublin-based national paper any time Dublin win a game, catcol? Sure it’s like the second coming every second year 😀

  9. The Examiner is a parochial newspaper. Pretends to be a national paper but this simply doesn’t hold up.

  10. Just read that piece by Fogarty. It’s absolute drivel.

    What’s the solution? Limit the blood sub to two changes. And then someone gets opened during a game and can’t come off because the team will lose a man.

    This is pure hysteria for the sake of it. Must be really struggling to find material worth writing about.

  11. Now with little better to do I have read the various bits above – the most baffling piece for me has to be John Fogarty’s assertion that Evan Regan wasnt wearing a Gum shield, this in the context of split lip ,blodd sub etc. He refers to Regan being photographed without one.. now what the hell does that prove? what picture? when taken? did he search the ground to see if it dislodged on impact?. The more I read national Journo’s take on these things the more I am assured they are winging it and really have no place in post match analysis.

  12. Regards “exploiting” the blood sub rule, the rule is as the rule is and it applies to every player and team. Tell me which team would not use it as it is? Perhaps there should be a time limit on it and if somebody thinks so they are free to initiate a change by bringing a motion from their club to county convention. This applies to John Fogarty as much as anybody else. Presumably he is a member of some club somewhere. Nothing close to the English rugby “bloodgate” case a few years ago has occurred but when it was introduced I did think it had room for exploitation by faking a blood injury.
    There is a very strong case for a mandatory assessment period for head injuries with a temporary substitute allowed. To further protect the injured player the substitution for a head injury should not count towards the six normal subs allowed.
    Where a professional person [Medical Doctor or Chartered Physio] is on duty on the sideline there has to a professional obligation of duty on them with a consequent liability if they do not exercise that duty properly. They need to have what the Archbishop might have called a “mental reservation” from their team allegiance.

  13. As one who has called Breheny out over various articles across the years , I have to say I fully agree with his article above. The blood sub rule is being abused, the clock ( Mayo have been shafted over the years in this area) needs implementation and the use of the Black card is a joke. Ritchie Feeney and Castlebar destroyed by it, Kerry and Enright ignored by it, different rules for different folks. This time Breheny is correct.

  14. Richie Feeney warranted his black card. But the black card should be reduced to three and off and the subs reduced to five.

  15. Regards the Clock, one of the arguments against it I have heard is that it is not always reliable. It is in use in the ladies game for at least 15 years [I will not forget it going off in the Mayo v Laois Final]. Has it ever caused a problem in the ladies game?
    Another cause is given as cost. Again I cannot imagine that if the ladies association, with their much lower income, can afford it the boys in Croke Park should not find it unaffordable.
    I am surprised that the recently stirred controversy on choosing a principal ground in Connacht has not generated more discussion. Perhaps it is an acceptance that McHale Park already has that title. However the Rossies will not be slow to suggest we go back to the “decision” of the early 90’s that Hyde Park be nominated. I think it was Brehony who suggested that it is more central in Connacht. If so he needs to revise the little geography he learned at school and visit the three contenders. In particular he needs to try to get to Salthill via Claregalway like probably 80% of a Connacht final attendance and find parking with the ordinary Joe soap on a fine day in summer. In addition I understand that Salthill residents are becoming very unhappy about the intrusion of GAA fans into their salubrious neighbourhood and further parking restrictions are likely. Roscommon is not much more accessible from the west. It is 10 miles from the Leinster border at Lanesboro so is probably more accessible for the Dublin journos. Neither has anything like the capacity of Castlebar and if they were to go for all seating like McHale Park capacity would be much more reduced. On all counts McHale Park is the winner.

  16. Black card is a joke. Deegan looked like he had never heard of this card. Did he even carry one on Sunday?

    Re Examiner and Cork, yes the Herald for example is a Dub propaganda sheet, but for the Examiner does it differently.

  17. Catcol,

    No ref carries a black card, or is expected to. His notebook, which has a black cover, serves the purpose. The question is his willingness to use it.

  18. Rewatching Mayo – Kerry from last weekend there wasn’t any black card incidents that I seen. I’ve watched the infornative video explaining black card rule with refs. The possible penalty was more goalie n defender both fouling rather than a black card.

  19. Yes the stadium issue is a big enough issue, I got the western toady and I see it makes the front page too.
    What sort of cost would it take to make two terrace ends with a roof ? McHale has way more potential than the other two . Hyde park is a mess but that might be gettin sorted soon as them boyos seem to have a few quid lately. Salthill is a nightmare I can’t see how there can be a case made for it.

    A quick question , if we did happen to beat Galway in the summer would we be lookin at another trip to salthill for the final with the hyde losing the finals arrangement would it mean a roscommon v Mayo final would be in Salthill ?

  20. I’m sorry, but as I have posted before, I cannot see the logic behind the black card. Where is the penalty to the fouling side when they can replace the offender? Either the offence merits a yellow or it doesn’t. Two yellows and you are off. Discipline then is paramount for all. Take away the ambiguous and highly questionable decisions of the referees.

  21. I think that most supporters and players are generally unhappy with the black card and more particularly the manner in which it is being administered (or not). The sin bin was the perfect solution, it deprived the offending team of a player for ten minutes, it allowed the ref to administer the punishment with no reservations or feelings of guilt and having to tolerate the subsequent abuse which always follows from one or both camps.
    To be fair there are quiet a few experts that grab the tackling hand and pull the opposing player down which resulted in an opposing player being black carded in the wrong, (I’d b careful if I was the Mayo full back next weekend as he will be in the company of an expert, TRUST ME).
    It would also dramatically reduce players being pulled down in the last fifteen minutes as they make their way towards the goalmouth of the winning team to try to score a vital goal, at that stage they are off and the is no replacement if they do a hatched job. This will result in a lot less syndical tackles at really vital stages of a game. All managers are holding a sub in reserve for the “late offender” and the sin bin is a much fairer way to administer the rule and exact suitable punishment on the offender.
    Players are quiet willing to take one for the team as they will be replaced and there is no issues with their team mates but if they weren’t able to be replaced what would the attitude be !!! More particularly what would the teammates attitude be for a silly tackle by a player which would seriously reduce a teams ability to stop the water from flowing over the bulkhead ??? I know it’s a hard one, but I think they threw the baby out with the bath water in this one,,

  22. I’d have to agree with you (Re: the black card) Gamechanger10. I think the misuse, non use and the total inconsistency of the use of the black card among referee’s, has made its implementation look a lot worse. As you have said, the sin bin might be more effective.

  23. Sean Burke a enough money has been spent on MacHale already and will take years to fully paid off. From what i understand the during the redevelopment of Hyde park any Ros v Mayo Connacht final will be played Salthill while Galway v Ros would be played in Machale park.

  24. Oh you of short memories. The sin bin was tried and was a total disaster as it was not implemented by referees. It was not, to put it mildly, popular with team managers either. So it got a quick burial with nothing said in it’s praise.
    A resurrection is not likely.

  25. There hasn’t to my knowledge been a team who has had the 4th black card yet. I’m not sure there has even been a team getting 3 in championship or league.
    The delaying of frees needs to be added to the list of black card offences. The bring it up 15 yards the refs always wait for 3:seconds before doing anything. Then they bring it forward. Total delay can be 8-10 seconds by the time the free is taken. Loads of time for a defence to perfectly regroup. All deliberate pulls/drags should operate tick/yellow/yellow. They’re easy to spot as the forward has usually got past the defender. They’re different from an over aggressive tackle.
    Finally the man in posession should have a quick free if surrounded … as long as he doesn’t dip his head n barge. I.e. wait for yer free or pass it but do not try n barge out o there.

  26. I agree Gamechanger with the points you articulate. The Black Card aids the team it is supposed to sanction. Sometimes the sub player gets a few minutes to to show his worth on the field of play. This can have the effect of raising the bar for his teammates and especially the injured player on his return to the playing field. All positives, so where is the negetives.
    I hate it when people go on about the cost of McHale Development. I believe McHale Park development and re-development will be an ongoing thing for a long time to come. Either by this generation or some other generation in the future. It is time we accept this and get on with it. A seperate funding group should be formed to promote this within the county or elsewhere. A program of music or sporting events could be organised on an annual basis to support this drive. As standards increase into the future facilities will have to keep up.

  27. JP has it spot on. The two biggest issues in Gaelic football at the moment are the timekeeping, which someone still hasn’t been sorted, and even more pertinent is the issue of cynically delaying frees by standing on front of the fouled player, not giving the ball back immediately, or pulling/dragging the fouled player after the awarding of a free. It would be so easily stamped out of the game and would make for way more of an improvement than any black card directive, but as we know, the GAA are glacial in their speed to improve the game.

  28. After watching the referees at the weekend and the penalty awarded against Liverpool last night, i have the final solution to all the problems. Shoot all the refs and let the players beat the hell out of themselves. The last player standing wins the cup, if he is able to take it.
    Then the GAA will realise there is something wrong as they have no money and will be forced to make changes, at great speed. I bet no one else has thought of that solution. 😉

  29. Black card rule needs consistency but you will never have that. Only way you have consistency is one game at a time, i.e. the referee manages that game fairly in terms of both teams that day. Each team gets that refs own interpretation of the rules.

    I think mandatory testing for concussion should take place and Andy D is correct here. It would not be hard for guidelines to be put in place for this.

    I think there should be a time limit on a blood sub e.g. after 15 minutes the blood sub becomes a normal sub.

    As regards the hooter it is a great idea but I’m afraid the GAA big shots in HQ will never give in to that scenario especially if there is a possibility of getting a replay in a big game.

  30. The delaying frees things I believe will change pretty soon. At this stage you would be suprised not to see the delaying of a free! The 15 yard penalty achieves nothing. Unless the original foul is on the 45, even then you are still left with a 30 yard free which has an 80% conversion rate.
    Bringing it up further distances causes complexities around accurately measuring that distance and also what to do if the foul is within 30 yards of the opposition goals.
    All refs have consistently waited several seconds before awarding the extra yardage, the current ruling does not work.
    If it was a black card offence to delay a free all players would immediately retreat from the fouled player.

  31. Contrast Sean Morans piece with that of Brehannoy. He is such a spiteful little man is Martin and his Mayo hating is getting in the way of his duties as a journalist.

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