So the week’s flown by and already we’ve reached the day before the replay of our All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin. Are we nearly ready for it? We’ve little choice but to be.
Last night it was a case of another night, another Diarmuid Connolly appeal, the second unsuccessful one he’s now made against the one-match ban proposed by the CCCC following the red card he picked up for striking Lee Keegan (and let’s not forget that little detail) in the drawn game. Dublin are now, as is their right, considering if they should head for the last chance saloon that is the GAA’s Disputes Resolution Authority. If they do, then the DRA hearing will have to be held at some point later on tonight.
It’s difficult to find fault with Dublin doing what they can to get a key player off the hook for such an important game (I’d imagine we’d do the same if we were in that position) but a disciplinary process that allows three separate appeals to be taken is one that’s seriously in need of reform. It’s a one-match ban Connolly has been hit with, not the death penalty, so a system that allows one appeal (which should carry the risk of the proposed punishment being doubled, to cut down frivolous appeals) should surely be enough. That issue, though, is one for again and so Dublin may well be back onto the appeal merry-go-round once more tonight.
Two points made this morning about how the DRA operates are relevant here. The first one provides some legal context for how the DRA operates:
— O’Dwyer Solicitors (@odwyersol) September 4, 2015
The next is procedural:
@bryanoboyle Under previous DRAs, decisions haven’t been released until the following day.
— John Fogarty (@JohnFogartyIrl) September 4, 2015
In relation to the latter, tomorrow’s 5pm throw-in time is obviously a relevant factor. Another long night appears to be on the cards at Croke Park.
Meanwhile, Dublin look set to name Connolly in their team tonight, providing, I guess, they go ahead and announce their starting fifteen before the appeals process is exhausted. As we discussed yesterday, including him in their 26-man match-day panel was the only sensible thing to do, otherwise he couldn’t have featured tomorrow, appeal or no appeal. Once he’s in the panel, then it’s all the one whether or not they name him in the team-sheet they release tonight. If the DRA decision doesn’t go their way, their match-day panel is reduced to 25 but that’s the chance they’ve had to take.
That Irish Examiner piece also says that Rory O’Carroll’s availability for tomorrow is still in doubt, while there are concerns relating to both Jonny Cooper (withdrawn in the second half last Sunday) and Alan Brogan (who was involved in a nasty looking head-clash with Paul Flynn just before the end). I still wouldn’t be surprised to see both O’Carroll and Cooper named to start with Brogan, like he did the last day, coming off the bench in the second half.
Over at the Irish Independent, meanwhile, Donnchadh Boyle has an utterly ludicrous piece, full of ifs and buts and maybes to set out an argument as to why Dublin will have a “siege mentality” going into tomorrow’s replay. The only direct quote he can muster for this drivel is one dating from 2012 from Pillar Caffrey (which is of the “dem culchies is all against us” variety), as he joins the dots from the free count against Dublin (for fouls committed) to the Connolly case (which arose from a strike) to reach the ridiculous conclusion that Dublin will feel under siege at Croke Park tomorrow.
Really? Playing in their 52nd successive home game in the championship with upwards of three-quarters of the crowd behind them, I wouldn’t be wringing my hands with any such worries for the poor embattled Metropolitans. (Then again I’m not trying to sell newspapers in Dublin). The most person I reckon who’ll feel under siege tomorrow will be Eddie Kinsella, with every free given to us being met with a wall of baying invective. The more I think about it, the more crucial reffing will be tomorrow. I just hope Kinsella is prepared to give us 50:50 – that’s all we want, that’s all we’ll need.
Staying with the Indo, Tomás Ó Sé has, by the looks of it, two pieces in today’s paper. In his one focusing on the match, Tomás reckons Dublin played the hard man too much the last day (in the local patois hereabouts, that would be chalked down as statin’ the bleedin’ obvious) and that if they focus more on football the next day they’ll win out. Hmmm: can the likes of Cooper and McMahon suddenly switch to being choirboys? As the saying goes, I’m not sure they’re the type of players that could.
In his other piece, Tomás gives out yards about the black card and I’m 100% with him on that. I’d have the sin-bin back in a heartbeat myself but that’s a cold weather discussion point, I accept.
Back to the Examiner, where Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin is building a good reputation for himself as a refreshing new voice on the scene. In this piece in today’s paper, Dick focuses on a number of positive cameos from the drawn game to show that all of Sunday’s action wasn’t of the negative variety.
Finally, if you haven’t yet seen the superb piece on the Mayo Club ’51 site about Italy’s biggest Mayo GAA fan, then take the time to read it – here. And we think we’re hard core: good on you Matteo, we know you’ll be with us in spirit tomorrow evening.
Support the lads ahead of the replay: go to the Mayo GAA website (here) and click ‘Play Now’ to contribute to the cause via the Mayo GAA Players Training and Welfare Fund Lotto.