Monday 19 August 2019

Helmets and our role

With debate on helmet removal all the rage in G.A.A. circles right now, it's interesting to note that Wexford has probably been involved in more of the contentious incidents than any other county, albeit in an indirect way for the most part.

By indirect we mean that none of our own players have been dismissed for such an offence in a high-profile game, but we can think of at least four games where we figured prominently nonetheless.

First and foremost, I doubt very much if this would have developed into an issue if our full-forward Stephen Banville and Tipperary full-back Declan Fanning hadn't clashed in the first minute of the All-Ireland qualifier in Thurles seven years ago.

On that occasion Banville pulled his opponent's helmet off and the guard caught Fanning on the ear, leading to a lot of blood, a very serious injury requiring 25 stitches, and a visible scar which the current Tipperary selector still carries to this very day.

With the benefit of hindsight, and in view of the recent controversies after incidents where nobody was injured, it seems incredible now that Westmeath referee James McGrath only saw fit to issue yellow cards to both parties.

Fast forward then to 2014 when the supposed automatic sending-off for the offence had only recently been added to the rules, and Podge Collins of Clare was the first high-profile victim after a clash with Wexford's David Redmond in the drawn All-Ireland qualifier in Ennis.

And that brings us neatly to recent events, starting with Tadhg de Búrca. While Harry Kehoe was lauded by Waterford management for speaking up on the player's behalf in his unsuccessful appeal, the Deise supporters weren't as generous in their praise on social media.

And as for Sunday week and the Austin Gleeson incident, it will be very interesting to see if our own James Owens is moved down the refereeing pecking order after his clarification ensured that the C.C.C.C. couldn't take any further action.

I wonder does Declan Fanning ever look at his scarred ear in the mirror when shaving and think of the repercussions from that incident seven years ago?

Wexford People

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