"The referee must have been clearly influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry" - Joe Brolly
Joe Brolly over-stepped the mark in The Sunday Game's Croke Park studio and host Joanne Cantwell had her hands full.
Even before a ball was kicked in the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Final, Joe Brolly was wired to the moon.
Fellow pundit Pat Spillane was trying to interject but Brolly cut him off and demanded that the Kerry legend stop 'patting me'. Many were heading into this final expecting a Dublin procession so Brolly and Spillane were stepping up for a bit of pre-game drama.
Dublin started well but Peter Keane had his young Kerry charges well drilled and they kept in close touch. There were squandered goal chances for Paul Geaney before Jack McCaffrey put his foot through the ball to make it a four-point Dublin lead. Still, Kerry were not going away.
Just before half-time, their chances were considerably boosted when referee David Gough sent off Jonny Cooper for what deemed to be persistent dragging and fouling of David Clifford. Gough had already booked Cooper, minute after he had awarded a penalty against him, and all for tussles with the Kerry No.13.
At half-time, TV viewers were left reeling in an ugly row that ended up with Spillane being the voice of reason. What is rare is oddly beautiful.
Brolly clearly had a swarm of bees in his shuddering bonnet about the appointment of Meath referee Gough, who was in the spotlight over his teaching job in Terenure, Dublin. The implications had been clear, leading into the game, that Gough may be compromised as he has close ties to the capital.
On the two big decision from the first half - the penalty awarded against Dublin and the Cooper sending off - Brolly declared:
"The penalty was a scandal. It was not a penalty in 100 years."
Claiming that Cooper actually could have had a free out, Brolly added, "The referee must have been clearly influenced by the propaganda coming from Kerry."
Bizarrely, amid the debate over the big Gough calls, former Dublin midfielder Ciarán Whelan admitted that, as pundits, he would be biased to the Dubs and Spillane would be likewise for Kerry. Spillane bristled at the suggestion that he was anything but objective.
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) September 1, 2019
Brolly had gone too far, in openly claiming - in a broadcast that will have been watched by well over 800,000 - that Gough had been compromised by the two-week news cycle regarding his fitness to referee his first ever final.
It was dangerous rhetoric and it flew in the face of the many that watched the game and felt Gough had handled the final well and had taken a number of brave and correct calls. Not every referee will go through a game flawlessly, but Gough had not shirked big decisions and was consistent with his toughness on players that were dragging and pulling at their opponents [he handed out 10 yellows and one red card].
Following the game, which ended in a 1-16 apiece draw, Brolly appeared to have calmed somewhat.
Touching on his previous criticisms, he stated that Gough was a good referee but expressed his relief that the Meath man would not be overseeing the replay.
RTE producers would want to seriously question whether Brolly and his wild opinions are fit for purpose when the broadcast of the replay, on September 14, comes around.