Jim OSullivan

Restraining order: John Mullane is goaded by Mark Foley last Saturday. | Photo: Jim OSullivan

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Such was the constant provocation that John Mullane received at Semple Stadium last weekend that he must have thought Mark Foley was Clem Smith circa-2001 in disguise.

As for Tom Condon, his crude attempts to tame the De La Salle flyer were as desperate as the instructions he patently got before entering the fray, and he was fortunate to still be on the field at the finish. He might as well have left his stick on the sideline.

Even a man with a Tommy Walsh-sized blindspot could see that Mullane was identified for ‘special treatment’ from the outset, designed to either put him off his game, or more probably to have him put off the field. A team managed by Justin McCarthy would never stoop to that, would they? Get real. Nothing personal, just business.

A marked man in every sense, Mullane – who did well to keep his cool, save for one understandable swipe that resulted in a yellow card – is virtually unplayable in his current form. If he keeps it up the only thing that will prevent him getting an overdue second All Star is, God forbid, a sending-off.

It’s up to the officials to do their utmost to ensure that doesn’t happen. Skill players should be protected not merely respected for showing restraint.