Dublin County Board hit out at 'targeting' of Diarmuid Connolly

John Costello claimed that the All-Ireland winner was being hit even before games started

Diarmuid Connolly, Dublin,

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Dublin County Board CEO John Costello has hit out at the increased role that targeting is playing in the GAA. 

In particular, Costello has called for the referees to have a bigger role in stamping it out early, rather than waiting for tempers to flare and players to clash on the field. 

Costello called for greater protection to be given to players from officials, stating that "it is important for the welfare of the game that action is taken to cut it out at source i.e. the original instigator."

In a section in the Secretary's report - released on Monday - under the heading of 'Targeting,' Costello stated that Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly was a player who was treated particularly harshly by the opposition and officials, and who has been regularly targeted.

Noting that a number of euphemisms, including "man-marking" and "close, continuous marking" were used to describe it in commentary and analysis, he stated that targeting was a completely different kettle of fish, and provided some evidence for his case. 

"I'll give one example of 'targeting,'" Costello wrote, "and how the victim can ultimately be deemed to be the guilty perpetrator if action is not taken by officials when the ‘targeting’ is not cut out at source and the instigator for the most part goes unpunished.

"In one of our championship games this summer one of our players – (no prizes for guessing who!) - Diarmuid Connolly, was struck about six times before the ball was even thrown in to commence the game.

"Okay, they were not Mike Tyson haymakers he was hit with," Costello added, "but never-the-less, each blow was an infraction of the rules and worse still, happened right under the gaze of one of the referee’s linesmen.

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

"At most breaks in play, this action continued with the perpetrator turning his back to the play and repeatedly striking Diarmuid, with one intention only, i.e. provoking a reaction that may get him in card trouble. The linesman’s attention was brought to it but again no action taken."

Connolly clashed a number of times with Mayo players during the All-Ireland final and replay, in particular Lee Keegan.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Keegan was eventually shown a black card in the replay for bringing Connolly down, but the Dublin player also found himself in trouble with the officials, as he was shown a yellow card in both matches.