All the talk from last weekends two All Ireland Championship quarter finals was not about some of the excellent football on show but the main topic of conversation was the cynical targeting of players, particularly Sean Kavanagh and Diarmuid Connolly.
It has become a reoccurring theme where Connolly is concerned over the last couple of seasons, with opposition teams purposely setting out to provoke the St Vincent’s star into a reaction.
Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin admitted as much after his side had been beaten in the Leinster Final.
Dublin finished last Saturday’s game with 13 players as both Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara were sent off, something Dublin manager Jim Gavin was very disappointed with.
“In the main, forwards want to get on and play the game,” Gavin said in an interview with the Irish Times.
“It was a source of disappointment that for a team that wants to play the game the way we want to, that we, Dublin, end up with 13 men. That is the surprising bit, I find. It is probably a question you need to ask the officials.”
Gavin’s main annoyance though is his firm belief that Connolly is systematically targeted by opposition in every game.
“It was all very predictable going into it; we all knew that some of our players would receive special attention. That was the case. It was up to the officials to act upon it. If they don’t, the eight of them, four umpires and four men in black, if they don’t act upon it they are letting the players down. On both sides.”
Connolly is the best player in the country right know and was the best player on show in Saturday’s quarter final till his sending off, there are few, if any players who could of scored the two sublime points he scored off either foot, but his resolve must be under serious strain from the constant underhand tactics that are being employed against him.
Gavin insists Diarmuid does his best to play within the rules, but also insists those same rules need to be applied equally.
“He plays within the rules as best he can and we accept that. If he deserves to get a yellow card like the last game for rough play, then absolutely no complaint. But the rules have to be equally applied.”
Connolly not surprisingly looked very dejected leaving the field of play last Saturday and you can bet your house that Kerry who have become one of the most cynical sides over the last number of seasons will look to target Connolly in a similar fashion.
Jim Gavin and Diarmuid Connolly will be well aware and prepared for it and hopefully all the attention the subject has received over the last couple of days, will see the officials on day prepared to act and stamp it out, but don’t count on it.