The way this season is shaping up it could end up being a watershed one in the GAA when team management will have a rethink about matches.
There has been a spate of sending offs in games in recent weeks, and in all cases, it could be argued that the dismissals influenced the outcome.
Of course, the old chestnut that you could never be sure about how things might or could have gone, but still the trend must be worrying for the GAA and people in the corridors of power must be wondering.
There was a sending off in the Munster hurling final. Cork insisted it hurt them in trying to cope with lively Limerick. They were beaten. The dismissal was later overturned.
Kilkenny hurling fans know only too well what happened to Henry Shefflin in recent weeks. The nine times All-Ireland medal winner was booked twice (yellow cards) during the first half of the All-Ireland quarter-final against Cork and he had to make the march of shame across the pitch to the sideline. Kilkenny were beaten.
As in the case of the Cork bookings, the Shefflin situation was revisited and one of the yellow cards was scratched. This in turn scrubbed the red card which followed and necessitated the Ballyhale Shamrocks man’s departure from the action.
There was another sending off in Dublin versus Cork All-Ireland senior semi-final. Again it was deemed an over reaction in an ordinary situation. Dublin were beaten.
In Croke Park on Sunday too in the minor hurling All-Ireland semi-final two players were yellow carded twice, and both, one from Waterford and the other from Kilkenny, were sent off.
Both dismissals were silly beyond belief, because there wasn’t a bad stroke in a tie in which the two teams put every ounce of effort in a positive drive to get to the All-Ireland final. Two players being sent off hinted at an altogether different sort of contest.
Okay, these bookings might yet be revisted. The players records might be cleared, but there is something that is not being addressed in this dismissal/appeals situation.
How can anyone undo the hurt felt by a player having to walk off the pitch when he knows he was sent off in the wrong? Such a situation is not a nice experience, as any player who has had to endure it will tell you.
Shefflin departed with jeers and whistles filling the air. That part of the punishment can’t be undone.