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'Diarmuid Connolly was struck about 6 times before the ball was even thrown in'

Dublin county board CEO John Costello has discussed the ‘targeting’ of the the St Vincent’s Star.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DUBLIN COUNTY BOARD CEO John Costello has claimed that Diarmuid Connolly was “struck about six times” before one of this year’s championship games.

In his wide-ranging annual report, Costello has moved to deal with the ‘targeting’ of the St Vincent’s talisman in summer clashes.

Suggesting that Connolly should be afforded more protection by match officials, Costello says that “it is important for the welfare of the game that action is taken to cut it out at source, i.e. the original instigator.”

Costello has produced another extensive report detailing the workings of Dublin GAA and the fortunes of various club and inter-county teams in 2016.

It is generally accepted that Connolly has become a marked man and his clashes with Lee Keegan generated plenty of headlines across the course of both All-Ireland finals, with the Mayo player black-carded in the replay for hauling down the Dublin forward.

John Costello Dublin county board CEO John Costello. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Elsewhere in his report, Costello suggests that GAA chiefs should look again at implementing the sin-bin as an alternative to the controversial black card currently in use.

But Costello puts forward his view that ‘targeting means different things to different people.’

Discussing the treatment of Connolly, he writes: “During the season the word ‘targeting’ was very much in the headlines after some games. It would seem that ‘targeting’ means different things to different people.

“Euphemisms such as ‘man-marking’ and ‘close, continuous marking’ were used to suggest they were the same as ‘targeting’. They are not.

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“I’ll give one example of ‘targeting’ and how the victim can ultimately be deemed to be the guilty perpetrator if action is not taken by officials when the ‘targeting’ is not cut out at source and the instigator for the most part goes unpunished.

In one of our championship games this summer one of our players – (no prizes for guessing who!) – Diarmuid Connolly –  was struck about six times before the ball was even thrown in to commence the game.Okay, they were not Mike Tyson haymakers he was hit with but, nevertheless, each blow was an infraction of the rules and worse still, happened right under the gaze of one of the referee’s linesmen.

“At most breaks in play, this action continued with the perpetrator turning his back to the play and repeatedly striking Diarmuid, with one intention only, i.e. provoking a reaction that may get him in card trouble.

“The linesman’s attention was brought to it but again no action taken.

In conclusion, to clean up this aspect of our games which often culminates in messy pushing and shoving contests and, ultimately the odd ripped jersey or two, it is important for the welfare of the game that action is taken to cut it out at source, i.e. the original instigator.”

Costello has also revealed that the Dublin county board has “undertaken a review to see if there are areas where preparation could improve to reignite Dublin” at minor football level.

Costello believes that the Sky Blues are “currently enduring something of a lull” in this grade, after losing heavily to Meath in the Leinster quarter-final.

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