The Ard Stiurthoir made his criticisms yesterday launching his report to Congress: “These were disagreeable incidents, and no-one in authority in the GAA will seek to minimise what occurred.”
“But the gap between what actually occurred and the presentation of what occurred was conspicuous. The incident became an unmissable opportunity in certain quarters to target the GAA and to indulge in the crudest forms of stereotyping of supporters of Gaelic games.
Given that it was the media coverage that caused a lot of the ill will; given that the video release to RTE was selective (and we are prepared to stand corrected on that but our information was they only received footage of the row); given that the coverage on YouTube was selective; and given the rash of anti Tyrone and anti Northern comments including the lamentable intervention by Dr Crokes concerning ‘family tickets’ at Portlaoise, surely Mr Duffy could have made a more profitable intervention at the time?
The video footage shown repeatedly cast the Derrytresk players, mentors and subs in a negative light. However, highlights subsequently release showed a game in which players that should have know better engaged in off the ball actions and were caught on camera yet got off scot free. Meanwhile the melee that attracted all the media opprobrium led to the suspension of key players that undoubtedly derailed Derrytresk’s All Ireland bid.
Paraic Duffy is correct to criticise those who used the coverage to lambast the GAA and then conveniently pretend that the sort of ill-disciplined behaviour that we saw that day goes on week in week out.
What he and other officers need to guard against is increasingly media savvy Club PR people who can use their wiles to selectively release material that ensures others are found guilty in the eyes of the media before the GAA disciplinary wheels grind into motion.
In the era of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and a growing rash of supporter’s blogs and citizen journalists, these are real concerns.