One of the big talking points following Round 1 of this year’s Allianz Football League was Roscommon forward Donie Smith’s alleged eye-gouge on Mayo defender, Keith Higgins.
Whilst it wasn’t the first incident of its kind on a GAA field, the grimace across Smith’s face as he drove his finger into the eye of Higgins failed to paint a pretty picture.
As a result, a one-match ban has been handed down to Smith. However, Paddy Power GAA ambassador, Owen Mulligan feels it is not good enough, and that an act such as eye-gouging should warrant a three-month suspension.
“A one-match ban for Donie Smith is not good enough. If you strike with the head or kick someone you could get three months. To do what Smith did was a bad act. It’s probably one of the worst things you can do in GAA, along with spitting. To do what he did and only get a one-game suspension is a cop out from the GAA committee.” Mulligan said.
“I know it’s only the start of the National League and you don’t want to be handing out hefty bans, but it’s definitely a bad, bad offence. It didn’t look good on the television for a start on the first League game of the season. I know Roscommon and Mayo are rivals, but you have to respect your opponents in some way and be hard, but fair.
“If the GAA had given him a healthy ban, it would stamp that kind of behaviour out. The suspension Smith received sends the wrong message out to current players and youngsters. It can’t go on as it stands, it should be a three-month banning offence.”
Following on from that win over Roscommon, Mayo travel to Omagh this weekend to take on All-Ireland finalists, Tyrone. Mickey Harte’s side were tipped by many to beat Kerry on Sunday, but they were lacklustre in Fitzgerald Stadium and fell to a four-point defeat.
Mulligan believes that Mayo will ‘relish’ the challenge that lies ahead in Omagh this weekend.
“Tyrone weren’t good enough against Kerry. Their forwards and movement didn’t cut it, and they looked as if they lacked hunger.” Mulligan told Paddy Power News.
“This Mayo outfit are coming up to Omagh with a new manager, they’re full of running and they dogged out a massive result against one of their biggest rivals.
“They’ll relish the challenge of trying to beat Tyrone away from home. It’s a very tough game and I hope Mickey Harte makes changes in the inside forward line. If Niall Sludden doesn’t play up the middle Tyrone seem to suffer from that. Mickey Harte will know that Mayo are our bogey team.”
With James Horan’s return being one of the main talking points heading into the 2019 season, Mulligan believes that he must see something in this Mayo side in order for him to return.
The new Fulham Irish manager feels that if anybody is going to get Mayo over the line after 68 long years, then it will be the Ballintubber native.
“James Horan must see something in Mayo that one else can see. He must feel that something is coming there, those players are another two or three years older from when he last had them.” Mulligan said.
“They’ve had unbelievable setbacks and have shown great character to keep coming back. He must still think he can do a job with them.
“He’s taken some time out, he’s probably regrouped and come back with new ideas. He’s confident in his own ability and they were really close to winning a couple of All-Irelands under him before, so if there is a man to do it, he is the man.”