It’s been one of the most controversial summers in the GAA’s history. We’ve seen a lot of high profile appeals and suspensions. 2017 has been highly entertaining; the entertainment has provided drama that has not always been positive. There have been a number of negative episodes and here we rank the top five so far.
5. Sliotar Thief
Cork hurling’s revival has provided a major talking point. The Rebels were crowned Munster hurling champions in 2017 providing one of the shocks of the summer.
However, the Munster final wasn’t without controversy. Prior to throw in, we witnessed one of the more bizarre situations of the summer. Clare must have seen no other solution to stop Anthony Nash’s pinpoint puckouts as they launched Nash’s sliotar bag into the terrace.
Video evidence of the action led to an investigation. In the end, Clare accepted responsibility for the issue and apologised for the incident.
Cork were unaffected by the incident and went on to win the match. It became a major talking point for a few days until Cork quickly accepted Clare’s apology.
4. The Brian Cody sideline issue
This incident was given more significance than it deserved due to an earlier incident in the summer, but more on that later.
When Kilkenny took on neighbours Waterford in July, every ball was heavily contested, even by the managers. When a decision was disputed by both Derek McGrath and Brian Cody, neither man were willing to concede an inch.
After the fourth official decided to intervene, he focused his efforts on stopping Cody rather than McGrath. In a split second decision, the Kilkenny boss briefly attempted to pass the official in order to get to Derek McGrath.
Having put his hands on an official, calls were made for Cody to be suspended. No further action was taken and this angered a particular county’s supporters.
3. Fitz v Forde
Though the initial incident actually took place in the league, it would go onto effect Tipperary and Wexford’s championship campaign.
Unhappy with a refereeing decision, Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald took to the field to voice his displeasure. This attracted the attention of Tipperary midfielder Jason Forde and the duo clashed.
Davy Fitzgerald was rightly handed an eight-week ban for his actions. However, it was the suspension handed to Jason Forde which upset most hurling fanatics. Forde was handed a one match ban for his involvement and was unsuccessful in his appeal missing Tipp’s opening championship loss to Cork.
2 Helmet Gate
In recent weeks, this issue has claimed a strong argument for the number one spot. However, it narrowly misses out.
Little to no talk surrounded this issue at the beginning of the summer. Stephen Bennett was rightly suspended for interfering with Damien Cahalane’s helmet in June, no issue here.
However, the real controversy began to surround the championship when Waterford’s Tadhg de Búrca was sent off by Fergal Horgan in their quarter-final against Wexford. De Búrca was suspended and unsuccessful in his appeal, the correct decision in many people’s eyes.
Déise supporters were further angered after Galway’s Adrian Tuohy escaped a ban for a similar incident. However, Waterford supporters are now counting themselves lucky, as Austin Gleeson also avoided the same faith as de Búrca.
The incidents have stirred up huge debate and the ruling is sure to be heavily discussed over the winter months.
1. The Diarmuid Connolly affair
No issue garnered up as much attention this summer as the 12-week ban issued to Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly for ‘minor interference’ with an official.
Never to be found too far away from controversial incidents, it’s no surprise to see Connolly top this list. Unhappy with a decision made by linesman Ciaran Brannigan, Connolly laid his hands on the official.
After days of debate, the news broke that Connolly was suspended for 12 weeks for ‘minor interference with an official’. Needless to say, Dublin supporters were up in arms.
As mentioned earlier, Brian Cody escaped without punishment for a similar incident. A key difference here could point to the analysis on RTÉ’s The Sunday Game. Hurling’s Michael Duignan played down the Cody incident while Pat Spillane argued Connolly should be suspended.
Connolly may yet appear in the 2017 championship again for the Dubs. He is available for their All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone on August 27th and could the man who created the greatest GAA controversy of the year so far conclude by making the headlines for the right reasons?
Take a listen to our GAA pundits discuss Waterford’s victory over Cork and preview Kerry against Mayo this weekend on the latest episode of Th 16th Man with Dominos;