JOHN FOGARTY: It’s time for the GAA to shut up the bigots and bigmouths

The GAA has a code of conduct. It also has rules to deal with the behaviour on Hill 16 two days ago, writes John Fogarty.

Surveying the field at the final whistle on Sunday, it was like Barry Kelly’s shrill had deactivated several Tipperary players as they fell to the ground. There, they were consoled by their Galway markers. As the pain of defeat brought Noel McGrath to his knees, Cathal Mannion sympathised. Galway are winners, that’s admirable in isolation, but that they were so gracious makes them even more laudable.

That magnanimous vista couldn’t have been more different to what some of the Galway following at the top of Hill 16 subjected Seamus Callanan to during the first half. A group saw fit to repeatedly abuse him with a vile chant concerning a rumour about his personal life that had spread earlier this summer.

Coming a week after Andy Moran was regularly booed by a section of the Roscommon following, it brings into question the behaviour of some supporters and what they feel they are entitled to do, having paid into a game.

It’s not as if the GAA has all of a sudden stopped being immune to the ugliness spewed from so many Premier League clubs’ terraces. Tipperary have had their own boorish fans.

For one, the bigot who through a megaphone repeated a homophobic slur at Dónal Óg Cusack from Semple Stadium’s Killinan Terrace during the first half of the 2009 Munster first-round game. Diarmuid O’Sullivan rightly wanted the gardaí to remove him from the stadium. Denis Walsh, Cork manager at the time, felt so angry, he wrote a letter to Cusack. Cusack’s mother Bonnie, who with her son features in the excellent featurette for Electric Ireland’s sponsorship of the minor championship, chose to stop going to games as a result of the abuse.

Earlier this year, Limerick manager John Kiely hit out at a few of his own county people who shouting obscenities at his players — “That day against Cork in the Munster League, there were quite a number of people in the crowd who were extremely abusive that day and it was not at all appropriate that players be treated like that on the day, given the amount of time and effort and work they put into preparing themselves on the pitch, and off the pitch.”

We have previously argued that managers have a case to answer in severing the connection between players and the public by stopping or at least sterilising player dealings with the media. We maintain that is true for a lot of the lack of empathy but there are no extenuating circumstances for what was thrown at Callanan on Sunday. Nothing but ignorance and hate could explain why he had to endure such shameful slurs.

To be fair to Callanan, he did a decent job of ignoring that baying mob. While he did miss one free in the first half facing into Hill 16, he sent over another two and fired over a couple of points, both having been blocked down initially. With action, he backed up his words from June when he responded to the scurrilous speculation: “Sure, there’s the world of nonsense talk going around but I presume it goes around a lot of other panels too, what can we do?

“We have no control over what people want to say about us. They’re absolutely unfounded rumours but we have no control of that. It’s terrible that these rumours go around but we are kind of powerless towards it.”

The GAA aren’t, though. Their “Give Respect, Get Respect” initiative is aimed at promoting greater awareness of positive behaviour between players, coaches, spectators, and referees.

As commendable as it is, more affirmative action may be needed to weed out growing incidents of unruly behaviour.

The Roscommon management and players did their bit last week in calling for supporters to refrain from booing Moran.

The Galway board wouldn’t do themselves any harm to follow suit and condemn what was said about Callanan but it’s Croke Park who really should now be taking Roscommon’s lead.

The GAA has a code of conduct. It also has rules to deal with the behaviour on Hill 16 two days ago. Might the abuse slung at Callanan have been considered disruptive behaviour by supporters “not causing the premature termination of a game” or even misconduct considered to have discredited the association?

Was what Mayo supporter Mick Barrett, who deservedly served a 12-month ban for invading a pitch, did in the 2014 All-Ireland SFC final replay against Kerry in the Gaelic Grounds, any more disgusting than the shower of abuse that descended on Callanan from a terrace?

The association rightly prides itself on not having partition in its stands and terraces, and long may that practice last, but its reference to spectators as patrons seems more aspirational than ever.

Devil is in the detail in hurling’s disputes

It’s time for the GAA to shut up the bigots and bigmouths

The common definition of deliberate is up for debate as Adrian Tuohy sweats on how the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) view his interference with Patrick Maher’s helmet in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

It’s 16 years since a player last missed an All-Ireland final through suspension — Tipperary’s Brian O’Meara — although this would be a retrospective ban, since neither Barry Kelly or his linesman saw the incident at the time.

Should the Galway defender suffer the same fate when, as much as he did enough to remove Maher’s helmet, it is inconclusive that he intended making contact with it as he reached behind him.

Truly, it’s the legal definition of deliberate that carries more weight considering that is at the very heart of what or won’t prevent Tadhg de Búrca from lining out for Waterford against Cork this Sunday. It reads: “Wilful; purposeful; determined after thoughtful evaluation of all relevant factors; dispassionate. To act with a particular intent, which is derived from a careful consideration of factors that influence the choice to be made.”

On Thursday, de Búrca will make his case to the Disputes Resolution Authority with the backing of Wexford’s Harry Kehoe, whose helmet strap he pulled. His action didn’t appear to be one of much purpose but then it’s the linesman John Keenan’s judgement that is up for debate.

The rule was aimed at curbing a practice that was endangering players (Declan Fanning required 25 stitches after a qualifier in 2014) or attempting to gain an unfair advantage. Deliberate is the word but maybe blatant should be the understanding. Neither de Búrca or Tuohy’s actions seemed to be that.

We won’t be fooled by gentleman Jim

It’s time for the GAA to shut up the bigots and bigmouths

“I haven’t looked at them (Tyrone) since February, if I’m honest.”

Physically, it would have taken quite some time for Jim Gavin to pull a leg of all the journalists that attended last Saturday evening’s All-Ireland quarter-final post-match press conference but he did just that in an instant with that one-liner.

Gavin might well have been talking truthfully about himself although it would be quite remiss for him not to have watched at least one or two of Tyrone’s games. Regardless, his royal “I” extends to a sophisticated scouting network he has assembled. Led by John Courtney, it will have been paying close attention to Tyrone for quite some time now, possibly since the start of the league, considering the Leinster and Ulster champions’ stars were aligned.

Éamonn Fitzmaurice spoke before about the reach of Dublin’s group.

Recalling 2013, Gavin’s first season in charge, he told this newspaper: “Dublin’s resources are phenomenal. And I mean phenomenal. In Ennis, there was a member of the backroom team up from us — not a member of management team, mind you — with an iPad doing a statistical analysis of a Munster semi-final between Cork and Clare. Now, that was opposition well down the road for them. It shows the level they are at.”

Media work, which Gavin rates as the most difficult part of his job, is a game of smoke and mirrors, misdirection, and, at times, deception. Most if not all managers are at it. Our role is to try and detect it. We could say “pull the other one, Jim” but he’ll need no invitation there.


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