Sat, Oct
20 New Articles

Sideline view musn’t be ignored

Kevin McStay
John O’Mahony with Aidan Hegarty (3) and his sister Cara (5), from Armagh, at the launch of ‘RUA’, the new children’s GAA mascot
NEW ARRIVALS New Mayo manager John O’Mahony with Aidan Hegarty (3) and his sister Cara (5), from Armagh, at the launch of ‘RUA’, the new children’s GAA mascot created by Sports Merchandising Ireland Ltd. RUA is a soft toy which comes decked out in your favourite county colours and is available now.

Sideline view musn’t be ignored

Kevin McStayKevin McStay

THE last few weeks has highlighted the tenuous grip the authorities have on the whole area of indiscipline and the resulting violence in our games. Fresh from the International Rules debacle, we find once again, that we have enough to be getting on with on our own doorstep.
It is a subject that gets a fair hearing here in this column on an annual basis. We could mention it every month but the topic seems to bore most followers. It is of course related to our absolute ambivalence to the subject. We rarely do the proper sanction and when we do it is often wrong, diluted, open to appeal and generally administered as if the committee in charge is somewhat sorry to even have to consider the incident.
Here in Mayo, by and large, we run a good campaign. There are hundreds of games played in any given month and the 2006 report is pretty good. There are moments of dreadful violence (a Junior ‘B’ derby is always a good location to spot a bit of outrageous carry-on) and I know of a Mayo referee who recently took both teams off for a period to cool things down. That was the option he took; otherwise the match would have had to be abandoned.
The inter-county scene is tidy enough with too many observers on site to let a man get off scot-free; but the club scene still has its moments – many of them. And the recent advice by Minister O’Donoghue is good advice: if a player deems the act to be a criminal one then report it and have it investigated by the Gardaí. That way he knows it must be dealt with.
I have attended the majority of the Connacht club games this Autumn/Winter and again they went off with relative calm. But one area needs immediate attention and correction: the number of mentors, subs, fans, back-up staff, stewards, county and club officials on the sideline at the last few games in Hyde Park was an incident waiting to happen.
The total came to over 50 on nearly each occasion and when the final saw one of the Corofin mentors elevate himself to the rank of doctor/medic, Frankie Dolan from the new champions St. Brigid’s took exception and took action. If the sideline crowd had rushed the scene a really good game, well refereed by Vincent Neary, would have been spoiled. It was a cheap lesson and to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Johnno’s Mayo will play to win
A FEW weeks ago we wrote about the attention to detail that is the hallmark of John O’Mahony and his teams. We mentioned also his competitive nature and the sense that his teams, though very easy on the eye, play to win. This aspect tends to surprise many people, as John is a quiet, unassuming sort of fellow. And this is true but never allow that reality mask the desire to win that all sportsmen must have.
A short story then to illustrate this side of our new manager’s character. It was the tail end of the 2002 Connacht under 21 final between Mayo and Galway. I imagine both sides knew that victory in the province would almost guarantee success at the All Ireland phase; we on the Mayo bench certainly felt so.
Played on a horrible wet night in Castlebar, Mayo faced a gale in the second half and a very brave display saw us trail by two points with only a few minutes remaining. The game looked over but Alan Dillon raced though the Galway defence and was cut down a few metres inside the large rectangle.
A lifeline! I immediately searched the field for our penalty taker Robert Moran to check all was okay with him. As I did so, Johnno took off, unnoticed by me, for the scene of the crime. But Liam McHale, a selector with that team, spotted him and roared at me to follow him quickly.
When I arrived at the goalmouth I was greeted by shouts from John instructing his defence to line the goal and keep their concentration. He had spotted that the referee Peter Carney (Roscommon) had not yet stretched his arms out to indicate a penalty and was working the psychological angles when I arrived.
To my eternal discredit I let John have both barrels; he stared straight ahead and said not a single word to me. Alan Dillon was still receiving attention and the ref’ was still dithering. I went straight for the ref’ and reminded him of his duties and the need for moral courage! His outstretched arms came as a massive relief and Robert Moran executed the kick brilliantly. Johnno still said nothing as I passed by.
Did I mention his team went on to equalise and late in injury-time snatch the winner? They did. But that brief exchange highlighted the different stages our managerial careers were at. One man totally focussed on getting every advantage he could for his team while the other failed to understand how that might be done. An innocent abroad.

Farewell to our weekly teasers
APROPOS the earlier few paragraphs about indiscipline in our games, it is with some disappointment I conclude the weekly rules teaser. The concept was a decent one-help educate the fans on the rules of the game so that we might all avoid listening to half-informed experts when a referee’s decision is examined.
The initial reaction was pretty positive but as the weeks went by the mailers died off and the last few columns witnessed a trickle only. Last week the well went dry and so, the concept dies a death. Are we a nation that has little time for rules and regulations or is just my military background? Or perhaps it was just a daft idea to start off with ...
Last week we posed this teaser: ‘A goalkeeper is taking a kick out from the small rectangle but stubs his foot into the ground, as he is about to strike the ball. He only knocks the ball 5 metres in front of him. He panics and shouts at his defender to come to his aid, but by the time the message is transmitted the quick thinking corner forward is in like a shot to poke the ball into the net. Is the goal allowed? Could the keeper do anything else to help his cause?’
Indeed he could, and should, and no doubt would but he did not know his rules! First things first-the goal stands (if the attacker was outside the 20m line when the goalkeeper first kicked the ball) so, credit the fast thinking forward.
In the case of a kick-out from the small rectangle, the player taking the kick (goalkeeper or otherwise) may kick the ball more than once before any other player touches it, but he may NOT take the ball into his hands!
If the goalkeeper is NOT taking the kick, he must stay in the small rectangle and all others except the kicker must be outside the 20m line until the kick is taken. The ball must travel 13m before being played by another player on the defending team.