Shock and awe as Lee gives MOTM to player from losing side…

Oh give me a break! Seriously!

  Sorry, I’m assuming that most people have heard the shocking details of Lee’s Lousy Low Blow… or has it officially been labelled MOTMgate yet?

  So, Lee Keegan is a GAA legend. Let’s be clear about one thing: he know far more about the game, specifically about the skills of top forwards, than the vast majority of us do. Having hung up his boots, thus far he’s an amiable and fairly insightful pundit with RTE (and his impact will grow when he relaxes a bit more).

  On Sunday, Lee apparently overruled fellow pundit Sean Cavanagh… leading to the man of the match (MOTM) award in the Roscommon v Galway Connacht semi-final going to Ciaráin Murtagh, and not Damien Comer. Cue a bit of slagging between the pundits and presenter Joanne Cantwell. But then the miffed Twitter gang said a collective ‘Hold my beer, I’m going in…’

  Let’s be fair here. People are entitled to their views, and it was entirely natural that many supporters felt the RTE MOTM call was a bad one, that Comer had been the match-winner and deserved the award. For the record, Comer scored the decisive goal of the game, as part of his personal contribution of 1-4; Murtagh, meanwhile, was heroic for Roscommon, scoring 1-6, his goal an assured finish to a super team move.

  Back to the folks on Twitter: they’re entitled to disagree with Lee Keegan’s choice, but needless to say quite a few of the outraged tweeters had no interest in  nuance or perspective, preferring instead to go straight for the jugular. The decision to choose Murtagh was ‘shocking’, and ‘a disgrace’. Comer had been ‘robbed’. Promoting its post-game analysis, ‘Smaller Fish GAA’ laughably announced: ‘We chatted about the outrageous decision not to give Damien Comer man of the match in today’s game’. Outrageous? Oh dear, oh dear.

  Three points: Firstly, it’s high time for an end to the utterly silly and frustrating pattern whereby pundits almost always award the ‘man of the match’ accolade to a member of the winning team – as if it’s  mandatory to do so. It is refreshing (and logical) to see a player from the losing side being chosen from time to time… and pundits should have the courage to do so more often.

  Second point: As good as Comer was on Sunday, a legitimate argument could indeed be made for Murtagh getting the nod. Comer’s goal was quite fortuitous (though certainly well taken), and his last point came very late on – after Keegan/Cavanagh had made the selection. Murtagh’s goal was a brilliant one, and he did actually score more than Comer. Not to say Comer shouldn’t have been the choice; I merely make the point that it was very reasonable to have Murtagh in the frame.

  Which brings me to my final point. The most frustrating thing about this ‘Storm in a Nestor-cup’ is the fact that Lee Keegan addressed the mounting outcry… by apologising, and changing his mind. Maybe his follow-up (on Twitter) on Sunday evening was tongue in check, but it was still a silly call by Lee to even acknowledge the negative feedback. Sadly, he tweeted an over-generous clarification that the MOTM choice had been made before the end of the game, and that Comer should in fact have been the choice. He then apologised to Galway fans.

  No, Lee, just no! You should have stood your ground. You should have backed yourself, like you did every step of the way in your highly distinguished playing career. Well, maybe explain that the MOTM call was made before the end of the game (pressing TV deadlines, etc.) – but don’t change the decision, and don’t apologise. Apart from all the obvious implications of this U-turn, it had one other awful one: it afforded Sean Cavanagh a smug drive home!