With Declan Prendergast ruefully accepting the two-month ban imposed for his sending-off in Walsh Park last Sunday week, I was pleasantly surprised that the GAA showed the cojones to, first stick an extra fortnight on Ryan McMenamin’s original six-week suspension, then uphold it after an appeal.
The Tyrone ball-player was caught red handed grabbing Kerry’s Paul Galvin provocatively by the liathróidí during last month’s NFL tie against Kerry in Omagh, during which McMenamin (supposedly a lovely chap in ‘real life’, as if that diluted his on-pitch obligations) hounded Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper and did his best to earn a chinning from the miraculously-restrained Marc Ó Sé. (Can you imagine him trying it with Páidí in his pomp?)
Cork hurler Tom Kenny at least apologised to ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick for dangerously tapping the Kilkenny captain in the privates with his hurl during last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, and took his medicine; knowing he was lucky to get away with four weeks.
Mickey Harte, who should be embarrassed for effectively giving McMenamin licence to act the yob (and by no means for the first time) at Healy Park, said he was “puzzled” and “baffled” by the ban being extended, when they would have accepted one month.
“We don’t like that it seems that he is being victimised to some extent and it’s a huge loss to our team,” Harte says. For four League matches, is all. No big deal.
McMenamin sympathisers are in the minority but within his own circle (“You wouldn’t meet many better fellas,” says Brian Dooher) they feel it’s ‘trial by media’. Sure between ourselves and the Cork county board we’re at fault for everything.
Former Meath forward Colm O’Rourke has made the point that in less politically-correct times, someone carrying on like McMenamin did would get a dig in the mouth and that’d be that. Summary justice of sorts.
And lest anyone think genital-grabbing is a new GAA phenomenon – and what would be going through a fella’s head? – current Cork football boss Conor Counihan pulled a Vinnie Jones on the great and consummately fair Jack O’Shea in the 1988 Munster final. (Gazza’s groin strain was notoriously inflicted by the ‘Crazy Gang’ gowlbag a year before).
Not enamoured by what one reporter memorably described as the Cork defender’s “intimate bear hug”, the Kerry legend landed Counihan a right puck in the jaw as soon as he’d recovered; cue non-Frank Murphy-induced mini-riot at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with ‘The Bomber’ pelting downfield in hot pursuit of one misfortunate in red.
Billy Morgan and Kerry’s John Mulvihill even went at it on the sideline, with the Cork bainisteoir reportedly refusing to serve both he and Liston when they walked into his pub, possibly looking for a couple of pints of revenge, that night. Ah the memories.