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Brewing up a storm - 12 GAA controversies that hit the headlines in 2017

The Super 8s, Diarmuid Connolly and Davy Fitzgerald all hit the headlines this year.

pjimage (5) The Super 8s, Diarmuid Connolly and Davy Fitzgerald all hit the headlines this year. Source: INPHO

AWAY FROM THE celebrations and heartbreak of a typical GAA season, there was of course controversy in 2017.

Here, in no particular order, were 12 incidents that rumbled on and put GAA in the spotlight over the last twelve months.


1. Super 8s get the green light

Last February’s GAA Congress won’t be easily forgotten after the Gaelic football landscape was radically altered with the introduction of the Super 8s, the round-robin format at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage.

General view of Congress Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Not everyone backed the changes and was happy with what was in the pipeline for the next three years.

2. Davy Fitz’s Nowlan Park pitch invasion

The headlines in April’s league semi-final were grabbed by Davy Fitzgerald when the Wexford boss stormed onto the pitch. He remonstrated with referee Diarmuid Kirwan before clashing with Tipperary players Niall O’Meara and Jason Forde.

An eight-week ban ensued with Fitzgerald famously watching the Leinster semi-final win over Kilkenny from a newly-constructed box in Wexford Park.

Davy Fitzgerald and Aidan Nolan clash with Jason Forde Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. Aidan O’Shea, Bernard Flynn and posing for selfies

Mayo are used to taking shots from the critics. 2017 was no exception. In May while talking about his belief that Aidan O’Shea has underachieved, Bernard Flynn told the RTÉ GAA Podcast about an incident after a challenge match against Meath where O’Shea posed for selfies with fans while his team-mates did a warm down.

O’Shea later talked about quitting social media for a time after but it didn’t put him off his stride with his performances for the rest of the season and he collected his third All-Star award in November.

Aidan O’Shea meets fans after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Kerry’s Brendan O’Sullivan failed a drugs test

News broke in May that Kerry footballer Brendan O’Sullivan had failed a Sport Ireland doping control test following the 2016 league final. The Sport Ireland findings accepted that the rule violation was not intentional and O’Sullivan had served the resultant suspension.

Brendan O'Sullivan Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

5. Diarmuid Connolly’s encounter with a linesman in Portlaoise

The Dublin star was hit with a 12-week ban after an altercation with linesman Ciaran Brannigan in their clash with Carlow. The saga dragged on before Dublin opted against appealing the CHC’s ban.

The St Vincent’s man had to watch on as the season progressed with manager Jim Gavin criticising RTÉ’s coverage of the incident. But Connolly finished the summer lifting Sam Maguire again after making a major impact in the final win over Mayo.

Diarmuid Connolly walks away from linesman Ciaran Branagan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6. Michael Duignan unhappy with Sky Sports

It seems like something that flares up every summer and in July after Waterford and Kilkenny’s Saturday night encounter, Michael Duignan hit out at the decision to televise the game on that broadcaster.

“My parents are at home, my father’s 83 years of age, a savage hurling man. Why should he have to go the pub, he doesn’t go the pub, to watch a match? They have enough money, there’s enough money in the GAA, how much money do you want?”

General view of a Sky Sports microphone Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

7. Davy Fitz, Derek McGrath and the question of sweepers

Not everyone likes Wexford and Waterford’s style of play. After the counties met in July’s All-Ireland quarter-final, both managers defended their ploys with Fitzgerald particularly passionate.

Davy Fitzgerald and Derek McGrath Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Michael Duignan and Henry Shefflin were in the firing line when Fitzgerald addressed the media in a fiery mood in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“Let me say this straight out, Michael Duignan and Henry have never managed a team at a high level. The people need to wake up, so they do.”

8. Croke Park pitch gets a makeover for concerts

Another annual issue that crops up is the pitch surface in Croke Park after mid summer activity. July was a hectic month at the stadium.

Croke Park Schedule

  • 2 July – Leinster senior and minor hurling finals
  • 8 July – Coldplay
  • 16 July – Leinster senior and minor football finals
  • 22 July – U2
  • 29 July – Down v Monaghan and Kildare v Armagh football qualifiers
  • 30 July – Kerry v Galway and Mayo v Roscommon football quarter-finals

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When the GAA action swung back around, Jim Gavin and Kevin McStay were two managers that were not enamoured by the condition of the pitch.

9. Tadhg de Búrca’s suspension for All-Ireland semi-final

De Búrca was dismissed in the quarter-final against Wexford for an incident when it was deemed he interfered with Harry Kehoe’s helmet. The appeals process dragged on until the weekend of the semi-final against Cork where Waterford ended up being unsuccessful.

There was plenty divided opinion on the nature of the punishment handed out to the Deise defender.

Fergal Horgan red cards Tadhg De Burca Source: James Crombie/INPHO

10. The Dublin freetaker and the GPS unit

The defining moment of the All-Ireland final came when Dean Rock swept over the winning free for Dublin but the ace marksman had to hold his nerve as a GPS unit was lobbed in his direction by Mayo defender Lee Keegan.

An unsportsmanlike act or a sign of his will to win? People fell down on both sides of the argument in the aftermath.

Rock Source: INPHO

11. The Gooch’s testimonial

Colm Cooper broke new ground in October with the first testimonial dinner for a GAA player. The event for the Kerry great, who retired last April, sparked plenty debate with not everyone pleased with his decision.

Colm Cooper Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

12. All-Star football decisions

The annual outcry of certain players getting picked while others are omitted featured in early November. The hot topic was the goalkeeper spot with Mayo’s David Clarke again honoured as the number one ahead of Dublin’s celebrated captain Stephen Cluxton.

pjimage (4) Source: INPHO

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