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Tony Keady tributes and Jack McCaffrey's cheeky celebration - the top 7 Sunday Game moments of 2017

Here’s some of the best moments from the GAA’s flagship TV programme.

THE SUNDAY GAME continues to guide us through the GAA championship every weekend, and the 2017 coverage produced some intriguing moments of television.

From the studio panel’s joyful reaction to Joe Canning’s point in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final, to Pat Spillane’s rather divisive reaction to the Diarmuid Connolly incident that led to a 12-week ban, there was a lot to enjoy throughout the season.

Here’s a recap of seven of the best Sunday Game memories from 2017.

Michael Duignan’s anger at GAA’s Sky deal

Michael Duignan expressed his anger at the GAA’s broadcasting deal with Sky earlier this year.

Sky held exclusive rights to cover the All-Ireland hurling championship qualifier between Kilkenny and Waterford in July, meaning that many fans who don’t have the channel were unable to watch it live.

The former Offaly hurler vented his frustrations about the matter on the Sunday Game.

“I think the Sky deal is so wrong on so many levels and it’s not because I’m in RTÉ, working for The Sunday Game.

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? What about the people who support the game all of their lives, and they can’t watch it? I think it’s disgraceful.”

Jack McCaffrey’s TV celebrations

Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey entertained the nation with his celebrations at Dublin’s post All-Ireland winning banquet.

Sunday Game presenter Michael Lyster was interviewing manager Jim Gavin about his side’s third All-Ireland victory on the bounce, when the 2015 Footballer of the Year started putting on a show in the background.

McCaffrey was forced to go off in the early stages of the All-Ireland final with what was later revealed to be a torn cruciate. But the injury didn’t dampen his mood as he busted a few moves on the camera.

Studio panel’s reaction to Joe Canning’s point

For the third successive season, Galway and Tipperary collided in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final.

It was a compelling contest throughout, with Galway narrowly edging the tie courtesy of a long-range point by Joe Canning.

Lyster and Sunday Game hurling analyst Cyril Farrell are both Galway men and the cameras captured their joy in the studio as the Portumna man nailed the decisive score.

 Tomás O’Sé takes the AFL to task

2017 witnessed the emergence of Kerry teenage sensation David Clifford. The talented forward captained the county minors to a fourth consecutive All-Ireland this year, scoring an impressive 4-4 in the final against Derry.

His skills have reportedly generated some interest among AFL clubs, which caused concern among Kerry GAA fans. The Fossa man has since decided to stay at home for 2018, but a story shared by the AFL’s official Twitter account earlier this year, was not well received by Kerry legend and Sunday Game contributor Tomás O’Sé.

“Now this tweet here – Look, I don’t mind if David Clifford gets offered a way to go out to Australia,” he said on the Sunday Game.

“But I don’t know why they’re tweeting about it. If the guy goes, he goes.

“I don’t know who’s driving it. But this is a guy who the AFL have apparently not tapped up yet, but the AFL are tweeting about him tonight, writing articles about him. There obviously is interest out there.

“I hope he stays at home for the good of Kerry football, but you can’t force a young fella to stay at home. He needs to want to stay at home, and I hope he does.”

Pat Spillan’s reaction to Diarmuid Connolly push

Psalm3 / YouTube

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly served a 12-week ban this year following an altercation with linesman Ciaran Brannigan during Dublin’s Leinster championship victory over Carlow in June.

The incident caused much debate about whether or not Connolly had committed any wrongdoing, and whether the length of the ban was an appropriate punishment for the action.

Prior to the ban being issued to Connolly, Sunday Game regular Pat Spillane analysed the incident on the show after the game.

“This is black or white, this is a very obvious thing,” he said.

“Diarmuid was infuriated that a sideline decision went (against him) and not giving the ball back. The pictures here it all.

“A picture tells a thousand words, clearly going to Ciarán Brannigan the linesman, clearly putting his hand on the sideline man, which he’s not entitled to do, clearly pushing the linesman which he’s not entitled to do, and clearly, with his finger pointed, threatening the linesman.

“He put his hands on the linesman, he pushed the linesman back and a finger pointed in someone’s face sounds to me like threatening. It’s minor physical interference, it carries a penalty of 12 weeks.

You prod a bear, you get a reaction. You prod Diarmuid Connolly, you antagonise Diarmuid Connolly and you always get a reaction.

“In his defence, you could say the linesman didn’t bring it to the referee’s attention, you might point to the fact that perhaps the referee didn’t see it.

“But you had a similar offence in a club match with Evan Comerford, the Tipperary goalie lately. Minor physical interference with a referee, as stated here. It looks like 12 weeks.”

Michael Duignan’s tribute to Tony Keady

The Galway hurlers ended a 29-year drought to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup back in September.

It was a particularly emotional victory for the Tribesmen following the sudden death of Galway stalwart Tony Keady just a few weeks before the All-Ireland final.

After the final whistle, Michael Duignan paid a superb tribute to Keady’s memory while on co-commentaryduty with the Sunday Game’s Marty Morrissey.

“Just Tony Keady Marty… I had such time for the man. Looking at the piece on him at half-time, it’s so heartbreaking for him and his family.

“Whether it was Waterford or Galway (who won) today, what it means to both those counties. I’m looking over here at John Mullane, he’s heartbroken and I’m heartbroken for the people of Waterford but I’m delighted for the people of Galway.

“That’s always the way it was going to be today. What an occasion, what an emotional day.”

Tomás O’Sé compares Cork footballers to ‘a herd of sheep’

Cork players inspect the pitch The Cork footballers. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

O’Sé offered a scathing criticism of the Cork footballers on the Sunday Game this year.

The Rebels came through their Munster assignment against Waterford to book their place in the provincial semi-final, but O’Sé, who plays his club football with Nemo Rangers, said the quality of their performance was simply not good enough.

“They’re capable of putting up big performances but they’re so few and far between,” he said on the programme in May.

“The management have a lot to answer for, they’re in charge, they need to lead and instil confidence but it’s not there.

“People in Cork are disgusted with the way things are turning out. Peadar Healy and his management team I’ve no doubt are good GAA men but I’m not sure are they up to the job of leading this team.

“I think the county board have something to answer for, they picked the guys in charge.

“You look back the years and what (former manager) Billy Morgan did with teams and how he inspired them.

“I don’t think they’re inspired. They look like a herd of sheep going into a field for the first time and cutting loose around the place. There’s no organisation or anything there. I wrote an article two years ago (about them) and you could put the same article into a newspaper today, and nothing’s changed.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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