There’s a lot been said in the media this past week about the treatment of Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly and Eoin O’Gara at the weekend. Indeed much has also been said about Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh.

Players, managers and TV pundits alike have all expressed their grievances with some of the current black arts on display in the modern game and their place in it.

The long and short of it is, while match officiating is a difficult job in itself, despite there being enough officials on and around the playing area, players are simply not being protected properly by these officials.

Dublin Legend Alan Brogan has put pen to paper and his recent Herald column has addressed this subject as it related to himself during his playing days.

A team will do whatever it takes to be successful. In some cases at any cost. That’s quite apparent.

The Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh club man would have spent years as a target for goading and antagonism but also had a solution for the extra attention.

“I never usually engaged. So fellas quickly realised they were wasting oxygen.” He wrote this week.

“For that reason, as my career went on, it happened less. A fella won’t put that much energy into getting you to react if he doesn’t think he’ll have any joy.”

“It’s the same with Bernard. You rarely see Bernard being targeted. There’s guys out there only waiting to see if they can get a hit on him that might force him to think again about whether he really wants to be showing for the next ball. But Bernard doesn’t react either. He’s not interested. So largely, it’s a waste of time.”

The way the football landscape is these days, teams know to beat a better side, it’s important to isolate their greatest threat.

Diarmuid Connolly is without doubt one of the most skilful players of the modern game. In addition, and certainly in years past, Diarmuid would certainly have been reactive to goading or rough housing simply because he just wants to play his sport to the best of his abilities, something every other competing county in Ireland is fully aware of. Anyone that hasn’t or doesn’t play the game can’t possibly understand how frustrating this could be.

For reasons like this, it’s no surprise that a large number of poeple have come out and publicly proclaimed that our sportsmen, and indeed women are being failed by the officials responsible for keeping games ticking along without contraversy.

“We need both directive from Croke Park to referees to show a black card when players sledge and we need brave refs to just dish out the punishment and be done with it. If that means putting a high-profile fella off in the first couple of minutes of an All-Ireland semi-final or a final, so be it.” admits Brogan.

Alan reminisces of days playing challenge games against a particular Ulster county team. One particular game in St. David’s Artane, the referee abandoned the game as things got that out of hand, he decided he had better things to do.

the directive from our management was: if Alan comes in for a hard time in this game, everyone gets stuck in.”

These days, the art of sledging, goading, rough housing, whatever the brandished dark skill, has become something much more hidden. A skill of it’s own. Becuase it’s had to become that way. Rules have been tightened. Cynicism has been addressed, but not so far as it still rears it’s head in other forms.

Brogan in closing recalled a conversation he had with his mother not so long ago when she reminded him of a Plunketts club game a few years ago.

“I was getting a fair old time of it off the ball and she asked the referee at half-time what the story was.”

“Why was this going on and what he m ight do about it.”

“Sure, he’s a county player,” the ref replied.

“He can handle it.”

(excerpts taken from Alan Brogan’s regular column in the Herald)