It’s now been confirmed – by both the BBC and the Belfast Telegraph (but not yet by RTE, who are still busily scratching their whats-its or whatever it is they do when they’re not reporting the news in anything remotely approaching a real-time manner: there’s a nice job now for George Lee and his monstrous ego to get on with once he returns to Montrose) – that one-month bans have been handed out to Tyrone’s Conor Gormley, Justin McMahon and Martin Penrose, as well as Derry’s Eoin Bradley, arising out of some argy-bargy that occurred in last weekend’s televised (well, of course it was televised otherwise the GAA beaks wouldn’t have got wind of it) NFL opener between the two counties. According to that BBC report, Tyrone are going to contest the bans and will (or ‘wool’ as they say up there) request a personal hearing on the matter.
The issue for us is whether or not the GAA’s creakingly slow bureaucratic machinery is capable of getting its shit together in time to hear and adjudicate upon any appeals this side of 2.30 pm on Sunday. You’d have to think that they’d be unlikely to do so, in which case Mickey Harte will need to find a new full-back, centre-back and full-forward. It kinda puts Trevor’s absence into perspective, doesn’t it?
On a wider scale, this once again raises obvious concerns about the rather arbitrary nature of the GAA’s justice machinery. If the match in question isn’t televised, then anything goes but if it is and especially if any incident gets picked out in the course of the TV programme, then retribution from HQ tends to be swift and fairly merciless. There was that example a few years ago where the Dubs and Meath got their tenders roasted following the so-called Battle of Parnell Park but the same day Cork and Armagh spent the afternoon kicking lumps out of each other in a non-televised match and they faced no sanctions for their actions. You could soon see counties shying away from having TV cameras at their grounds if this is the crack that results from allowing their matches to be broadcast.
There’s also an issue of proportionality: four players suspended for a month for a bit of handbags in a league match? Strikes me as a tad OTT, even if they are all Nordies. Free the Tyrone Three (and the Derry One), I say. Oh and let off Mort too while ye’re at it.