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26th Jun 2017

Croke Park rubbish Joe Brolly’s claims about Pat Spillane and they’re dead bloody right

Pat Spillane is the one who had his 'good name' betrayed, not Diarmuid Connolly

Niall McIntyre

The CCCC confirmed on Monday morning that The Sunday Game had no influence on their suspension of Diarmuid Connolly.

If you were listening to Jim Gavin’s comments in the aftermath of Dublin’s victory over Westmeath, or The Sunday Game that night, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was Pat Spillane who pushed linesman Ciaran Branagan, not Diarmuid Connolly.

The Dublin manager claimed that Diarmuid Connolly’s “good name was attacked” by the media after the incident with Branagan in Dublin’s clash with Carlow in the Leinster Championship.

Gavin cited a lack of “due process” by the media relating to the Connolly incident as his reason for bizarrely refusing to engage with the broadcast media in Croke Park on Sunday on a one-to-one basis.

These claims are so unfounded and so far out of line because there was only man who had his good name attacked in the entire Connolly incident, and that man is Pat Spillane.

The only man who was treated with a lack of “due process” was Pat Spillane.

The sickening thing for the Kerry man is that he was betrayed by his own team, The Sunday Game, a team he joined 25 years ago in 1992.

The 61-year-old Kerry man was surely watching The Sunday Game last night with total and utter disgust at the insults he was subjected to by his colleagues.

First of all, let’s rewind back to Pat Spillane’s supposed “bile and malevolent” comments on The Sunday Game in the aftermath of the Connolly incident against Carlow three weeks ago.

“This is a very obvious thing. Diarmuid was infuriated at a sideline decision, not giving the ball back.

“The pictures tell it all. A picture tells a thousand words; clearly going to Ciaran Branagan, the linesman, clearly putting his hand on the sideline man, clearly pushing the linesman, which he’s not entitled to do, clearly with his finger pointed, threatening the linesman,” said Spillane.

The eight-time All-Ireland winner with Kerry has merely stated the facts here. He has not launched any form of personal attack on Connolly as insinuated by Jim Gavin.

Spillane proceeded to analyse Diarmuid Connolly’s situation in a fair, informative manner – giving the background to the story.

Diarmuid Connolly has had his issues with discipline in the past and when he performed an action that roared of his temper, his hot-head, and his indiscipline striking again, his past history with such events obviosuly becomes relevant.

Spillane then referenced the GAA rulebook, which also obviously has an importance when Connolly had just broken a rule. The fact that Jim Gavin took issue with “the rulebook being read out against him” tells you all you need to know.

Gavin, therefore, believes that the rules aren’t important when dealing with an issue, and this wasn’t just any issue, it was an issue which spoke as clear as day of a breach of these rules.

What way did Gavin want Spillane to analyse the incident, you might ask.

“You prod a bear, you get a reaction. You prod Diarmuid Connolly, you antagonise Diarmuid Connolly, and you always get a reaction,” claimed the Kerry man.

“He put his hands on the linesman, he pushed the linesman back, and a finger pointed in somebody’s face sounds to me like threatening. Bottom line, its Rule 5 – minor physical interference.It carries a penalty of 12 weeks,” said Spillane.

So, according to Gavin, just because it’s a Dublin player, or just because it’s Connolly, The pundits, whose job it is to analyse the game and incidents that occur in the game shouldn’t have said anything about the most important incident in the game.

“We had the national broadcaster in their post-match review, both Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke but particularly Pat, read out a pre-determined statement which was disappointing. Particularly because both of them are teachers you’d hope they’d understand that people do make mistakes and that due process should be allowed before we become judge, jury and executioner in one particular incidence,” said the Dublin man after their 31 point hammering of Westmeath.

These bemoaning comments are unbelievably far off the mark. Why wouldn’t Spillane have a “pre-determined statement”? He’s had time to prepare his opinion on the Connolly matter, (The game was on a Saturday, he was speaking the next day) so he’s entitled and expected by his audience to have his opinion rehearsed and prepared.

So Gavin is in the wrong, but on Sunday night, after Dublin and Westmeath, three weeks after the Connolly incident, two more men were entirely in the wrong yet again.

These two men were Joe Brolly and Dessie Dolan.

Dolan got the ball rolling claiming that Spillane’s above comments on the Connolly incident “look a little bit pointed” suggesting that Spillane analysis was biased due to his Kerry roots.

Brolly, as he so often does, took up the mantle and went one step further.

“He [Spillane] is a big boy, and he knows what he said. Of course, Diarmuid shouldn’t have touched the official, but at that stage, the officials had not taken any action in relation to it, and it was in the context of Connolly being held in the way that he was,” said the Derry man.

Just because the officials hadn’t yet dealt with it doesn’t put an embargo on Spillane delivering the facts on an incident that occurred in the game.

Brolly took another step further in bringing Spillane’s punditry career into disrepute, insulting Spillane’s neutrality and claiming that he was biased.

“You have to say, it was like watching counsel for the prosecution. Pat had everything on but his Kerry blazer and his Kerry tie. I thought to myself after, ‘the CCCC are going to act here’,” said Brolly.

How ironic are these comments from Brolly? A man who has gone on a series of bizarre rants in The Sunday Game’s past.

His last sentence, which basically claims that Spillane’s analysis lead to the CCCC acting on the incident is complete and utter rubbish.

The CCCC are obviously going to act on a clear breach of the rules.

This analysis from Brolly spoke of an obvious backtracking, a blatant submission from RTÉ just because Jim Gavin had gone and thrown his toys out of the pram.

George Cartwright, who chairs the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee, insisted that media coverage has no bearing on any decision to propose suspensions.

“The Sunday Game has no bearing or influence on the GAA disciplinary system,” Cartwright told RTÉ Sport before the qualifier draws.

These comments highlight the misleading and totally unnecessary nature of Brolly and Dolan’s attack on Spillane.

We all saw what happened on that fateful night in Portlaoise, not just Pat Spillane.