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'Mind games are alive and well' - Spillane, Whelan, Ó Sé and Cooper discuss the Dublin-Kerry narrative

Jim Gavin and Eamonn Fitzmaurice have defended their teams against perceptions they are cynical.

WITH THREE KERRYMEN and a Dub in Donnybrook yesterday for the launch of RTÉ’s 2017 championship coverage, it was no surprise much of the discussion revolved around the recent league final meeting between both counties.

Kerry took the league crown with a dramatic one-point win, but the talk since then has revolved around comments made by both managers in the media. 

Eamonn Fitzmaurice made the move to reshape the narrative off the field in the lead up to Kerry’s victory, by referencing a “hard edge” that Dublin brought to games.

Dublin boss Jim Gavin defended his side last week and insisted Dublin are not a cynical team. He added that such claims of Dublin’s indiscipline are influencing referees.

Colm Cooper joined his fellow county men Pat Spillane and Tomas Ó Sé on the Sunday Game couch this year, with Ciaran Whelan the only man in the blue corner.

Here’s what all four men had to say about the growing narrative in recent months.

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Tomas Ó Sé: ”Mind games are alive and well is all I’ll say. I think where it all happened – and I didn’t agree with Jim Gavin – was after the initial league game in Tralee, there was a lot of media pressure and Jim was in front of the cameras where he was asked a question about the physicality. There’s no point saying that Kerry are the aggressors. There’s two teams at it.”

Tomas O’Se Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Colm Cooper: “No different from the players, (the managers) are looking for percentages to back their team and maybe play a bit of mind games if you want to call it that.

“Éamonn stoked it up a little bit before the league final with his comments and Jim has done that in the past where he’s said that Kerry are very physical and overly aggressive. I think Paul Curran wrote an article recently enough as well criticising Kerry.

Ciaran Whelan: “I think this is turning into a bit of a pantomime. I think the landscape has changed and there is so much going on, on social media, a lot of people have views and one comment can be twisted into an agenda. Eamonn Fitzmaurice was very strong on his comments before the national league final.”

Ciaran Whelan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Pat Spillane: “There’s no doubt about it – you’ve got to manage the message – and great managers manage the message. I thought when Fitzmaurice came out prior to the league final and defended it (Kerry’s poor disciplinary record), I thought it was a smart idea. What Gavin did was masterful because it was brushstrokes and he was delivering a message.”

Whelan: “I think Jim Gavin, like Eamonn, made a strategic statement. It’s a bit of the pantomime that goes on. I don’t think it really influences or gets to referees at the end of the day.

Cooper: ”Managers have to do what’s right for their team and if they feel they’re being harshly treated or unfairly treated, they’re going to play those mind games. They’re very clever people. I met Jim last week at an event in AIB and we were just chatting about it. He wouldn’t be doing his job if he doesn’t stand up for his team and the fellas he’s training.”

Colm Cooper and Henry Shefflin Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ó Sé: “I think the media have a lot to do with it. They’ll push it and say, ‘Jeez he’s trying to pressure the refs here.’

“I think he’s (Gavin) trying to look out for his team. I think Fitzmaurice is the same. You’d hope, and this is the problem we have every year with the Sunday Game, you’d hope that the referees will show some consistency.”

Whelan: “I think a lot of the time it’s designed to put something out there, a rolling stone gathers moss and it gets a bit of momentum, because that’s what can easily happen nowadays in terms of social media. Something can develop quickly.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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