Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh has cautioned that the practice of sledging - abusing opposing players to throw them off their game - could have serious consequences if aimed at vulnerable players.
The Red Hands captain was speaking to the Irish Examiner at the launch of SuperValu’s ‘Kids for Kids’ initiative yesterday.
The game between Tyrone and Donegal was a bad-tempered affair.
Tyrone were beaten by Donegal in the opening game of the Ulster SFC on Sunday, with 11 yellows shown in addition to black and red cards - and Cavanagh himself was one of two footballers sent off.
He said sledging had been part of Sunday’s game, and that some players came in for particular abuse.
“The abuse can be very, very personal,” said Cavanagh. “I know on Sunday there were certainly players, you will probably know them, that play for us, that have been through tough times and they were getting a fair bit of personal abuse.”
He admitted the verbal abuse came from both sides and was a long-standing part of the game.
“Look, it’s disappointing to see and it’s not just all one side. It’s both sides," he explained. “I don’t know how you can change it.
“I don’t know how you can stop somebody whispering in somebody’s ear because I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to police that. I think it’s part and parcel of the game.”
Sean Cavanagh taking to the field on Sunday.
With an increased focus on the mental health and well-being of GAA players, Cavanagh was concerned there could be catastrophic outcomes if a vulnerable player was badly affected by the verbal abuse.
“I am accustomed myself to not taking it personally and have sort of laughed it off through the years,” he explained. “But yeah, there will be players that can’t do that.
“There is so much now on the mental health of players and all that and there are players in dark places. You would hope that it doesn’t come to the stage that some player tries to do something silly or something like that, if he has been abused or has had a bad game and people have really gotten on his case.”
H/T: Irish Examiner