Legend Daly gets caught up in latest club violence

Another Monday morning, another disciplinary headache for Croke Park.

But what makes this of greater concern for those in power was the sight of Anthony Daly, one of the most recognised and respected figures in hurling, involved in a mass brawl at a minor championship final.

Daly’s presence on the Sixmilebridge sideline on Saturday shows the GAA at its best and worst.

The positive is that the Dublin manager, a two-time All-Ireland-winning skipper, is now working to develop and nurture the new generation of talent with his native club, Clarecastle.

The negative, illustrated graphically in the photographs on the right, also supports an argument made by the GAA director general Paraic Duffy last week. When quizzed on unsavoury incidents at club games in Limerick and Cavan last Sunday, Duffy replied: “It does seem unique to the club scene. At inter-county level, it doesn’t appear to be a problem any more. We are going to look at the [club] issue before the end of the year. One of the issues is that, and I’m not saying it was the cause of incidents at the weekend, but the numbers of people on the sideline are certainly a factor and that is something that is going to be addressed before the end of the year.”

Duffy’s sentiments are shared by Brian Gavin, the photographer who captured Clarecastle pair Daly and Stephen Sheedy clashing with Kilmaley’s Niall Romer.

Gavin explained: “The game wasn’t ill-tempered, it was a very enjoyable final played out by two well matched teams. I was then heading out to my car and I heard people shouting and roaring behind me. I turned around and saw a group of about 10 players involved in fisticuffs.

“When I got back down to the pitch I saw Anthony Daly and Niall Romer and other people getting involved. As soon as this brawl ended another row started on the far side of the field with supporters and people on the sideline. I’d say all in all it went on for about five minutes and the referee and his officials were doing their best to quell it all but to little avail.

“It is especially sad when things like this happen in an underage game. It is a disgrace.

“I have been working as a photographer for 28 years and I have never seen it as bad. It is almost unheard of in soccer or in rugby but now it seems every week or two you pick up the paper and see pictures of brawls and fights in GAA matches.”

Clare GAA chiefs are waiting on the referee’s report into the matter before commenting on what action will be taken. PRO Syl O’Connor last night explained: “Due process has to be adhered to and that’s always the case. First and foremost we await the referee’s report, then it will be dealt with by Bord na nOg Iomaint. We’ll wait and see how they handle the situation and what transpires from that but in the meantime we have no other comment to make. There are many versions going around of what happened but we can act only on the referee’s report.

“I know of no independent reports of what happened. It will be dealt with in due course.”

The matter will first come before Bord na nOg Iomaint but as this is a Bank Holiday the report by referee Jim Hickey (Cratloe) will not now be discussed until Monday week, November 5.

In the meantime Bord chairman Martin Reynolds had no comment to make.

The seven-day wait is in stark contrast to the actions of Limerick GAA chiefs following the controversy in their drawn senior football championship final between Dromcollogher Broadford and Newcastle West.

A little over 24 hours after the incident, Martin Stokes received a proposed 96-week ban by officials for running onto the Gaelic Grounds pitch late in the decider and clashing with Newcastle West forward James Kelly.

On the same afternoon a large bin was hurled dangerously in a crowded area during the Ulster club championship tie between Tyrone champions Errigal Ciaran and Cavan’s Mullahoran. In this case local gardaí removed the individual involved from the ground before the match was over.

Duffy’s words from midweek now seem prophetic in the wake of the happenings in Clare.

“What we have to do is deal with our own rules and ensure that we look at the issue of security around playing pitches, around numbers on the sideline and so on. That is the question we have to address,” he said.

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