A STEWARD who was struck by a plastic bottle during the chaotic scenes after last Sunday’s Leinster SFC final has warned that a repeat of such incidents will lead to the GAA struggling to get people volunteering to work in Croke Park.
Eddie Geoghegan was hit near the Canal End in the dramatic aftermath of the provincial final, as he was trying to protect Tyrone referee Martin Sludden.
“There was one young lad, I can still see his face, and he was thundering towards the referee. I was trying to restrain him along with another steward and then I got the thump on the back of the head.
“Next thing I was on my back on the ground. I hadn’t a clue what was happening. To get assaulted doing a voluntary job is not on. A lot of people have to cop on to themselves.
“In Croke Park, you have the same stewards there every week without fail, year on year. I can see, if it does continue and more and more officials or stewards get injured, a lot of people dropping out. You can see people sitting back and thinking, ‘Do we really need this?’
“If there are no stewards up there, no Gardaí or no referee, you have no game.”
Despite the incident Geoghegan has vowed to keep volunteering to steward
“I have no intention of not going to volunteer my time to Croke Park. You can’t let one incident like this ruin something that I love doing.”
Croke Park Stadium Director Peter McKenna admitted that the prospect of people being discouraged from stewarding is a concern.
“Stewards have a duty of care and they have also responsibilities that they carry in their stride. Last year we had a guy with a broken nose, this year we have a man stretchered because of a bottle. That is very, very difficult to encourage young people to come to Croke Park if you think that level of threat is a real danger.
“What you hope is that last Sunday is another salutary lesson — stop, think and don’t be stupid because the next time we will be dealing with something that is involving wreaths or funerals. None of us wanted to be involved in that.”
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