Burning Issue: Were the Sunday Game right or wrong to ‘investigate’ Davy Fitz’s sideline outburst?
Last Sunday saw a brilliant game between Clare and Waterford at Semple Stadium but the focus ended up squarely on Davy Fitz after the Sunday Game highlighted a small clip of him swearing at somebody. Were they right to ‘investigate’ it? Two JOE staffers have their say.
Sean Nolan says… do you remember when the Sunday Game was there to show highlights of Gaelic games? Maybe we are looking back through rose-tinted glasses but for GAA fans all over the country ‘a little less conversation, a little more action’ is now a must for the flagship GAA show of the national broadcaster.
The griping about the programme raising some disciplinary matters, and ignoring others, has been long decried. That would be bad enough if the powers that be at HQ didn’t seem to use the programme as a guide to who to pursue and who to turn a blind eye to.
However, last Sunday they went on a new angle, picking on Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald. During the live game it was clear that Davy said something, not that complimentary it must be added, to someone on the field. Similar incidents happen in every game and RTE microphones surely pick all manner of hair-raising comments most Sundays.
But on foot of a ‘complaint’ the Sunday Game launched an ‘investigation’ into the incident, allowing us to hear, very clearly, exactly what the former Waterford boss uttered in the direction of one of his former players during the heat of a Munster semi-final.
Before you call us out on it, yes we had the video if the incident up first thing on Monday morning. It’s newsworthy and what GAA fans were looking for so we had to cover it. The Sunday Game didn’t.
Their job is to show us the games, as much of them as they can for as long as they can. Their job is not to set the agenda or listen to every ‘complaint’ that comes in. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is the place to go if you hear some foul language in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, not the Sunday Game.
And they seemed remarkably responsive to this complaint. We have seen countless complaints about the programme this season alone, chiefly on their coverage, or non-coverage, of lower level hurling at the expense of games that were broadcast live earlier in the day. We await the investigation into that.
It is hard to escape the notion that because it was Davy it was okay to go after him. Davy walks the line, in every sense, in most games but his antics in Thurles were more comical than anything else and best ignored on a show designed to allow fans see games they may have missed while attending or watching others.
Will any other managerial sideline antics be picked over in such detail this summer? We hope not but we wouldn’t bet against it either.
Conor Heneghan says… you have to tread carefully as far as the issue of ‘sledging’ in the GAA is concerned. People who watched Davy Fitzgerald’s actions and comments studied to the nth degree on the Sunday Game will argue that this sort of thing goes on in the GAA all the time, that Davy Fitz doesn’t seem to get a fair crack of the whip compared to everyone else and that he is an easy target to focus on because it doesn’t take a lot for his emotions to bubble over the surface.
And yes, verbals do go on all the time in the GAA. A lot of it is harmless stuff and a lot of the not so harmless stuff goes unreported, although the rooting out of the mindless idiots that racially abused Wexford’s Lee Chin recently showed that at least there is a readiness to punish the offenders who overstep the mark.
But the fact that it goes on all the time doesn’t that mean that the Sunday Game should have tiptoed around the pint-sized elephant in the room in their analysis of the Clare v Waterford game on Sunday night. I was watching that game live on Sunday and afterwards had been led to believe that John Mullane and Eoin Kelly had celebrated provocatively in front of Davy Fitz at the end of the game without knowing that they might have had any reason to do so.
It would have angered many Waterford hurling supporters and people who know Mullane and Kelly that it was being presented that there was only one side to the story, hence the number of appeals for the Sunday Game panel to ‘investigate’ the issue on Sunday night. I wanted to know what went on and everyone else watching on did too.
The footage eventually shown on the Sunday Game that night was a repeat of footage that had appeared during the live broadcast during the day, but all I could hear during the live broadcast was a bit of f-ing and blinding of the sort that goes on across GAA pitches every weekend. It’s unfortunate that such foul language was heard on live television at that time of the afternoon, but not such a big deal.
It was only when it was analysed in detail on the programme that it became clear what exactly Davy Fitzgerald had said and to be honest, as insults go, it wasn’t all that bad. It did, however, explain why some of the Waterford lads might have been so keen to rub it in Davy’s face afterwards. None of the parties involved came out of the whole thing with an awful lot of credit and when all was said and done it was a bit of a storm in a teacup, but at least everyone watching on knew the whole story, as opposed to just one side.
People will say that the media have some sort of agenda against Davy Fitz, but I don’t think that’s the case. He is a brilliant character and the game of hurling would be far lesser off without him, but he’s only in the headlines so often because he has a capacity to overstep the mark on occasion, as he did when becoming involved in a confrontation with a Limerick hurler on the sideline earlier this year.
My opinion of Fitzgerald didn’t change for the worse after all that happened on Sunday and I’m sure that’s the case for a large number of GAA folk.
I for one am looking forward to seeing him parade the sideline with his typical vigour later in the sideline and could you imagine being a fly on the wall if Clare run into Waterford again down the track?
Now THAT would make for good television.