In the wake of recent incidents surrounding helmets Matt O’Callaghan says GAA need to issue disciplinary guidelines with “absolute clarity”

Waterford and Galway are set to contest an historic All Ireland final in a few weeks yet the main GAA story dominating the headlines over the last few days once again centres around the GAA’s handling of the Austin Gleeson helmet incident.

Once again a dysfunctional disciplinary system has dominated the discussion. We caught up with Matt O’Callaghan to get his opinion of the major talking point of the week.

“It’s a pity that it’s overshadowing both semi finals because there was, post the Galway and Tipperary classic there was the whole thing about Adrian Tuohy.

“What this needs is clarity on the rule and absolute consistency in the application of the rule.

“It all comes own to whether it was intentional or not, in the replays it certainly didn’t look good from an Austin Gleeson point of view, but obviously neither the referee or the linesman deemed it necessary to take action at the time and look he got away with it.”

You can listen to Matt’s take on the incident in full on the link below.

However, Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan vented his frustrations on local radio at the Sunday Game’s highlighting of the incident involving the Mount Sion star. The incident was analysed by the panel during the match in and in the post match coverage. Later on that evening Eddie Brennan described the video evidence as conclusive and in fairness it was hard to disagree with him.

Speaking on WLR FM, Ryan was fiercely critical of the Sunday Game and their propensity to as he put it “dig stuff up”.

“I was very disappointed with the attitude taken by (former) players on RTÉ.

“We’ve lived this as county board officers for the last 72 hours, because we want Aussie Gleeson for the All-Ireland final. The county needs him, the game needs him and the country needs him.

“Being at the game on Sunday, to the ordinary punter, nothing happened but when you start playing things in slow motion, blah, blah, blah, it’s so easy to dig up stuff. That makes it look a bit unreal – and it is unreal.

“There was no serious malice or intent with either Aussie or the Galway player (Adrian Tuohy against Tipperary). It’s great that common sense has prevailed.”

There is no getting away from the fact that Ryan has a vested interest in seeing Gleeson tog out in the final but the replays do not back up his theory. RTE are not there to dig stuff up, they are there to analyse the game be it for the excellent scores or main talking points and incidents. That is their job, nothing more. Would we prefer to just watch the match for 70 minutes and not bother with any analysis or post match interviews?

What should RTE do? Ignore the incident out of some misguided notion from Ryan that the country “needs” Austin Gleeson to play in an All Ireland final? I could safely say there are plenty of things the country needs more.

The incident was clear cut. The Waterford man pulled the helmet of Luke Meade. It is hard too to argue that he did not intend it grab the face guard. You can see a clear grip and pull motion. There are some who will say he’s not that type of player and that he wasn’t looking at Meade during the incident. Try saying I’m not that type of driver the next time you get pulled over for speeding.

O’Callaghan believes that clarity is needed urgently in this area as Tadgh De Búrca was suspended for an offence not as clear cut.

“It doesn’t take away from the fact that the GAA have to issue guidelines with absolute clarity in the interest of equity and fair play, that is what is required

“There’s seems to be a grey area surrounding this. There’s latitude given to the referees, latitude given to the linesmen and latitude given to the administrators to interpret the seriousness or otherwise of the intent. This is one where there can be no grey area, it must be black and white.”

One person to which no responsibility seems to have been attributed to is the man himself. Gleeson was reckless to have put himself in that situation in the first place. In an All Ireland semi final, tensions are high and the stakes even greater, yet players should be mature enough to maintain composure.

“You can understand to a point reaction on the spur of the moment but there has been so much controversy surrounding, in the lead up to the game with his own county with Tadgh de Búrca and then the issue with Adrian Tuohy and would be allowed to play in the All Ireland Final. It’s very difficult to understand why someone would go down that road.”

Rightly or wrongly, the helmet and disciplinary incidents are now hopefully put to bed and we can finally start looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic All Ireland final.