GAA warning Louth and clear

The GAA have warned that comments made by inter-county players on Twitter can be considered as bringing the organisation into disrepute.

After a number of Louth footballers used the social network platform to vent their fury at referee Derek Fahy’s performance in Saturday’s qualifier defeat by Westmeath, the Association confirmed their members are expected to be conscious that their outbursts don’t show disregard to the GAA.

While inter-county referees meet tomorrow night to discuss an admittedly difficult weekend for match officials, Croke Park have said tweets by players are regarded the same as remarks made in print, TV and radio.

“The charge of bringing the game into disrepute applies to Twitter as much as it does to what is said on air or in the newspapers,” said a GAA spokesperson.

“It doesn’t matter what the medium is in that regard. There has to be an acceptance by people that they have to be responsible for what they say or write.”

According to the GAA’s social media guidelines, all members are subject to a code of behaviour when online even when they are not acting on behalf of the GAA.

The document reads: “You have a responsibility when using social media platforms to not do anything online that might tarnish the GAA’s image and reputation or bring the Association into disrepute.”

Such a charge carries with it a suspension of eight weeks — a ban Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson avoided last year after apologising to Fahy for remarks he made in a post-match interview last year.

National match officials manager Pat Doherty described any offensive remarks by GAA members about fellow members as disappointing.

“Anybody making a derogatory comment about anybody isn’t welcome. I’m sure if a referee made a derogatory comment about a player on Twitter it wouldn’t be welcomed either.”

In his post-match interview with RTÉ following Saturday’s defeat by Longford, Derry manager John Brennan was disapproving of referee Michael Duffy’s performance.

Brennan made reference to the Sligo official’s difficulties in the Down-Monaghan Ulster semi-final the weekend previous.

However, he insisted he was not attempting to mask his team’s performance by slamming Duffy who he felt should have awarded Derry a goal or a penalty for Joe Diver’s late chance.

“It wasn’t a heat of the moment thing. I did an interview with RTÉ but only a small part of it was used, the bit about the referee and my future.

“I said the referee was under pressure after the weekend before I was asked about our disallowed goal at the end. The players thought it should have either been a goal or a penalty and I repeated what they were saying to me.

“In the second-half, the referee ran about 60 or 70 metres to give a 13-metre free when the ball was nowhere in sight but I wasn’t making excuses.

“We lost that game in the final 10 minutes of the first-half but our main problem this year was the amount of players unavailable to us.

“Donegal were missing one player from the Ulster final when we played them this year. We were missing nine. We were a weakened team.”

However, the Irish Examiner understands some inter-county referees will come in for stern assessments following below-par performances over the weekend.

National Referees chairman Pat McEnaney is on record as stating he won’t be afraid to pull up match officials if he feels their displays haven’t been up to scratch.

When contacted yesterday, the Monaghan man refused to comment on the Twitter criticism of referees or the standard of officiating in Saturday and Sunday’s games.

Meanwhile, Doherty explained the new half-time protocol of one team leaving the field at a time was introduced by the provincial councils.

In Meath’s Leinster semi-final on Sunday, Seamus McEnaney was seen to hold his players on the field until Kildare had gone through the Cusack Stand tunnel.

After a contentious decision by Michael Collins to call half-time as Cian Ward kicked for a point, it helped to avoid a potential clash with Kildare players.

On Saturday Westmeath remained on the pitch as a number of Louth players and management, aggrieved to have lost Darren Clarke to a red card, remonstrated with Fahy.

“It just happened over the last while,” said Doherty. “It’s something the provincial councils have done and we’ve followed on.

“We had the qualifiers on Saturday but it’s something the provincial councils have experimented with this summer and we’re happy to do it.”

Doherty said failure to abide by the protocol would not result in a fine.

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