The GPA have described the online criticism of Cork’s footballers on Sunday as "beneath contempt".
Sean Potts, the official players body’s head of communications, slammed the reaction by some supporters to players’ performances in the Munster final defeat to Kerry.
After the Cork County Board came to the defence of the players, former Cork hurler and mental health activist Conor Cusack hit back at their detractors. He tweeted: “It would be wise of the keyboard warriors to remember that our real warriors, our players in the arena, wear more than their county jerseys.”
The cutting remarks against the players come just over a month after the GPA launched their We Wear More mental health campaign for their county players which featured Eoin Cadogan, one of the Cork players singled out for slack.
“The whole concept behind what we’re doing is respect and respecting people as individuals,” said Potts. “It was a bad day at the office for Cork but these people are amateur sportspeople. They deserve to be respected.
“The media tend to be very tempered and responsible in their commentary around this but even the analysis on radio was over-the-top. A bad day is a bad day. We direct and encourage people to look at our recent campaign and what the context behind it is and realise these people are more than just footballers and hurlers.
“They’re people in their own communities. It’s hard enough following a bad defeat to face the light again but particularly so when your own people are making comments. It’s beneath contempt.
“As Conor said, the real warriors are out on the field and everybody has a bad day. You win and lose games and you picked yourself up and that’s what these athletes do. They go back at it again and try and make up for it.”
Potts believes the vast majority of players are more than capable of brushing off such criticism. However, there is a concern it may impact on the mental well-being of a minority.
“Anyone in the public eye in any way, even people in the media, are subjected to that sort of aggression and comment online. It’s not nice and it can affect people in different ways. Most people can cope well with it but some can’t and the consequences for them can be very dramatic.
“People are under pressure and they are amateurs. We have to keep reminding and reiterating that despite the level of commitment being on a par with professional sport they’re amateurs and back in their community or work the next day. That’s not easy and it’s compounded by the keyboard warriors as Conor calls them.”
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