It’s possible the flag, associated with racism in the US, will appear in Semple Stadium for this Sunday’s Munster SHC quarter-final clash.
Last summer, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail called for supporters to be vigilant about the brandishing of the flag after it appeared at two Cork games in the space of six days. His words came after the flag was associated with a racist mass murder in the US last year. Sport Against Racism Ireland also recommended the GAA ban the flag from matches.
Yesterday, it was revealed a Minnesota high school student would be allowed to graduate despite having been suspended for not removing the confederate flag from his car. The flag also has milder connotations in TV in the 1980s series The Dukes of Hazzard.
O’Sullivan says to the best of his knowledge the flag has never been brought into a GAA stadium with any malicious intent. “I’m no spring chicken and have seen those flags on terraces at venues throughout the country. I don’t think they are carried with any political message. I think we can go too far with political correctness as well. The only reason they’re being held is because they are red and white.
“As far as I’m aware, they’re waved with no political agenda. Anything red and white is liable to appear and as far as I’m aware it’s never done with any political agenda.”
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan argues the value of the Munster senior hurling championship remains high despite no winners having gone on to win an All-Ireland title since Cork in 2005.
“Obviously, in recent years the gap to the All-Ireland semi-final appears to be causing some problem for the eventual Munster champions. They go straight into a semi-final and they don’t have a game between the two, which maybe isn’t ideal especially if they are playing a team who has a number of games under their belt.
“But I don’t think it in anyway dilutes the Munster championship. I always feel it’s better to go forward in the shortest, straightest way possible.”
The Munster Council are hoping Sunday’s game will attract a crowd of 25,000 to 30,000. “Weather is a big factor,” says O’Sullivan. “Because it’s not a knockout competition anymore, that has to be taken into consideration but Tipp-Cork is still a major attraction. All the talk has been about Waterford and Clare and that will have suited both Cork and Tipperary down to the ground. These Cork-Tipp games have a habit of taking on a life on their own, though.”