By Landan Seamy
Local spy Sean McGrinny suspects that the anti northern bias in the GAA is even more entrenched than he had previously suspected.
“I heard that RTE is looking for ideas for new programmes to air during the championship season this year so as work in my line tends to be quite slack during Lent when people go off the beer I came up with an idea and decided to research it.
“My idea was to do a programme a bit like the part of Question of Sport when they ask what happens next. I recorded some matches and then looked out for fouls. I would pause the play as soon as I spotted one with the intention of asking “What will the referee do next?”
“When I spotted a Dublin, Kerry or Mayo hallion infringing the rules of our national sport I would pause the video with the intention of jotting down which of the four options the referee would go for:
(a) free with no card
(b) yellow card
(c) black card
(d) red card.
“To my dismay, however, half the time the cynical southern ref would just ignore it and that wasn’t even one of the options. This totally spoiled my idea but having 5 options on the screen would look too messy.
“I also noticed that any time a northern player accidentally infringed the rules there would be a certain black card so again that doesn’t help my programme for it became too easy to predict. The programme would end up going like this:
“Sean Cavanagh accidentally touches some Free Stater. What will the referee do next?”
“Issue a black card”
“Some people may think I’m biased but that’s wrong. Take the Tipperary and Derry match last summer. I looked at it again and Tipperary got far more frees than Derry and I’m saying that as a Tyrone man who has as healthy a dislike of Derry ones as any of my neighbours.
Sean’s wife Kate, who has asked to remain anonymous, has said that she thinks her husband is on to something but suggests that he has not quite hit the nail on the head this time.
She has looked at the videos too and has noticed that it is just the most handsome players that are treated harshly by the referees.
“Of course it is correct to say that lots of cards are issued to players like Sean Cavanagh, Tiernan McCann, Mark Bradley etc” she said. “Strictly speaking however” she continued “The reason why a disproportionate amount of northern players are getting the cards is just that most of the handsome players come from up here.”
Tyrone County spokesperson Mary Fitzgerald admitted ‘we’ll not be doing that again‘ after the senior squad’s Secret Santa ended in bitter acrimony and fist-fighting.
The new county bonding initiative, which sees a player secretly pick a team mate’s name out of a hat at the end of November and then anonymously buy a present for them, is a staple festive gesture in offices and businesses across the planet.
Fitzgerald explained how the event began in bad taste at the county’s centre of excellence in Garvaghey:
“First out of the hat has Tiernan McCann’s present. Someone had bought him a pair of hair straighteners and a mirror. McCann never smiled once when on stage to collect his and even muttered something about them being ‘them oul shite Boots ones anyway‘ under his breath. I could see Colm Cavanagh a bit more red-faced than usual in the crowd.”
Apparently, the worst reaction was Mark Bradley who received a ladder and a note which said ‘that is for when you’re washing the skirting boards‘.
“Bradley went clean mad when he saw Ronan O’Neill smirking and went over to him and battered the head off him with the ladder. Then when Sean Cavanagh got his present, a scuba-diving outfit, the place erupted with players loyal to the captain slapping away at some of the new-comers to the squad who were chief suspects.”
The Secret Santa session was then immediately halted after Mickey Harte received his present, a Nazi soldier fancy dress outfit. Fingers were pointed at some of the Ardboe players not in the squad any more, who had somehow managed to sneak the present into the bag via a current player’s cooperation.
Meanwhile, in some good news the initiative raised £300 for charity. This year’s chosen charity is The Midges Conservation Trust.
A 12-year old schoolboy, who ran onto the field after Trillick’s County Final win over Killyclogher, told victorious player Mattie Donnelly ‘naw it’s alright’ after Donnelly offered to give him his winner’s medal.
John McCaughey, who claims he only ran on the pitch to get his tissue which blew onto the field of play, was third-man tackled by a gang of linesmen who thought he was probably up to no good.
McCaughey claims he would have told the New Zealand player Sonny Bill Williams, who offered his medal to a fan after the rugby World Cup, the exact same thing:
“I’m being called ungrateful and spoilt but sure what the hell would I want with an oul bit of metal that had nothing to do with me. Sure it’s like someone buying an ice-lolly and handing you the wrapper. It would probably only be worth a fiver on eBay anyway and what would a fiver get you now?”
It was initially reported that Killyclogher’s Mark Bradley, who witnessed the incident, told Donnelly that he’d take the medal if young McCaughey didn’t want it, to which Donnelly replied “you will in your bollocks”. On further investigation this does not appear to be totally true.
Meanwhile, rumours that Trillick are to declare for Fermanagh this week are refusing to go away. The village, which straddles the Tyrone/Fermanagh border, has often been described as a Fermanagh settlement in all but name, with many of the locals displaying Fermanaghesque tendencies such as looking sad and saying ‘as wide as a duck’s arse’ as well as labelling everything a ‘yoke’.
Trillick’s opponents next week, Scotstown, have asked Trillick to decide soon whether they’re from Tyrone or Fermanagh as it changes their game preparations entirely.