Owen Mulligan: Eye Gouging is wrong but we need to lay off Tiernan Kelly

Tyrone great Owen Mulligan exclusively weighs in on last weekend's eye-gouging scandal with Paddy.


What he did was wrong but we all need to lay off Tiernan Kelly

I tweeted last night that we should lay off Tiernan Kelly after he was caught on camera eye gouging Damien Comer during the All-Ireland quarter-final between Armagh and Galway on Sunday and I took some backlash.

Look, the lad did wrong and I’ve no doubt that he knows it.

He’s a young fella, starting out in his career. Yes, he got involved when he shouldn’t have but these things can happen in the heat of battle and I really think we need to be careful here.

I’ve heard he has come out and apologised to the Galway set-up and to Damien Comer which is a step in the right direction and must count for something. Let’s remember that thankfully nobody was seriously hurt, this lad knows he’s done wrong, he probably feels awful so we should think twice before hanging him out to dry publicly.


Incidents like this will continue to happen until GAA sorts out disciplinary process

I’m absolutely not condoning it, and I’ve said in the past that it’s one of the worst things that you can do on a football field, but for me a punch from behind is just as bad.

People have been quick to point out that he could’ve cost Comer his eyesight but a sucker punch can also cause serious damage but doesn’t garner the same level of outrage.

Who will be the next Mayo manager?

The whole incident was absolutely crazy, there were lads on the ground, boys in headlocks but the young lad is going to get the headlines. It’s the same with any sport whether it’s rugby, Aussie Rules or soccer you have to stand your ground but the problem with the GAA is these rows are always going to escalate as soon as the third man enters the fray unless it starts being dealt with.

Look, I’m no angel, I’ve been involved in scraps like the battle of Omagh and while we knew we did wrong it went to the CCCC and most of us got off. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s why lads are going to keep doing it cause you’ll get away with it. You need to start dishing out hefty bans that stick and until you do we’re going to keep seeing it.

Northern bias has led to this incident being blown out of proportion

Let’s call a spade a spade, this isn’t the first eye-gouge that we’ve seen in the GAA but have you ever seen such a fuss being made? This is 100% northern bias, I’m telling you now, just have a look and read a lot of the tweets and it’s all “typical northies”, “what do you expect from an Ulster team?”.

I’m not for one second saying Armagh are angels, because they clearly are not, sure they’ve had plenty of incidents already this year and they’ve always been hard men who want to stick up for each other.

The lad absolutely did wrong but there have been higher profile players who have got away with this such as Philly McMahon and a few more of the Dubs. Where was the uproar from an Taoiseach and the phone-ins for these incidents!?

It’s been totally blown out of proportion.

These things are happening and will continue to happen because our disciplinary procedures are wrong and lads get away with it. The likes of rugby has managed to stamp out a lot of this by having very strict and processed ways of dealing with such infractions and we need something similar.

Trial by social media was grossly unfair

The lad has apologised, that’s the first step in the right direction. I’ve heard he’s a good lad and that he feels terrible about the whole thing. We really need to be careful because everyone has jumped on him on social media which has seriously annoyed me.

You had folks digging up information on him, calling for his employers to dump him, calling for lifetime bans, trying to get the Gardaí involved. Get a grip will yiz!? He’s not a professional, he’s a young lad volunteering his time to play his sport he loves and people are out to destroy him for a couple of seconds of madness. Can we all calm down and be careful?

Where do we go from here?

One man will clearly be hit with a hefty ban and I don’t think they’ll contest it but I think Galway might have their full hand for Derry. To be fair there wasn’t much in it bar that one incident, initially it looked like a bit of shouldering and barging from Comer and a few Armagh lads and it went a bit wild.

But look at the respect both teams showed each other after the penalties which was great to see. We should all move on, let the CCCC do their thing and forget about it. Let’s remember this as one of the best games of football ever played and not for the sideshow that happened at full-time.


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