Owen Mulligan has weighed in on the debate surrounding the controversial red card David Clifford received in Kerry’s Allianz Football League loss to Tyrone last weekend.
The Kerry captain was given his marching orders by referee Fergal Kelly after being hauled to the ground by Tyrone substitute Ben McDonnell. The incident was caught on camera, sparking outrage across the country.
It has since emerged that Tyrone’s Peter Harte was given a second yellow card for a similar incident also.
Paddy Power GAA Ambassador, Owen Mulligan, admitted it was a “joke of a call” from the matchday officials and that Peter Keane had every right to be “fuming” after losing his star player.
“Instead of talking about the return of Cathal McShane, Niall Morgan’s kicks off the ground and Darren McCurry’s wonder strike from the sideline under pressure, we are still talking about the ugly scenes that occurred with Clifford and McDonald.
“It was an absolute joke of a call by the umpire that alerted Longford referee Fergal Kelly to give Clifford his marching orders with 15 minutes to go.
“Peter Keane had every right to be fuming with the red card but he may get used to this sort of treatment of his star player and captain. And Clifford is going to have to deal with this sort of treatment every time he goes out to play.”
However, Mulligan claimed that “nice boys don’t win football matches” and that it is the defenders’ job to get an edge “by any means possible”.
“He’s an exceptional talent but you can’t expect defenders to stand off him either. Nice boys don’t win football matches, and defenders have reputations to keep as well. All the best forwards in Ireland have experienced this down through the years.
“Dublin’s Diarmuid Connelly was a prime example. Lee Keegan took the rules of the game to the absolute line in the All-Ireland semi-finals. But it’s dog eat dog out there and it’s about who can come out on top by any means possible in order to get the advantage.”
Mulligan also claimed that teams need to take a leaf out of Barcelona’s book and start surrounding referees when star players come in for harsh treatment from the opposition.
“Tyrone’s Peter Harte was the target in last year’s semi-final and again on Sunday. He too received his marching orders. We call for refs and umpires to give all players more protection, but I would also look at their teammates.”
“You only have to look at Messi playing for Barcelona. If he gets touched all his teammates are in surrounding all involved. In last year’s semi-final against Kerry, Harte was pulled to the ground off the ball while five Tyrone players stood around and watched. For me, that’s a cardinal sin.
“Maybe Kerry have to look at more protection this way rather than counting on the officials. Maybe we shouldn’t be crying so much about Clifford and Harte because all over the country these sort of incidences are happing in every league game. So what’s good for the goose is good enough for the gander!”