Kevin Dowd: Racial abuse claim took a heavy toll

Meath hurling selector Kevin Dowd has revealed the heavy toll that an accusation of racial abuse placed on both himself and his family.

A Disputes Resolution Authority meeting on Wednesday night cleared the former Meath hurler of any wrongdoing during a Kehoe Cup final flashpoint in February.

Wicklow hurler Andy O’Brien was red carded in the contest and later went public with a claim that he was ‘racially abused’, labelling it ‘blatant discrimination’.

O’Brien claimed to have been called a ‘tinker and a knacker and every name under the sun’.

Dowd was subsequently handed a 16-week suspension but was then cleared by the DRA following an exhaustive appeals process.

The Dunderry man will be free to patrol the sidelines on Saturday when Meath, with heavy irony, face Wicklow in the opening round of the Christy Ring Cup.

Indeed the two men may come face-to-face again in Trim where O’Brien may line out in his accustomed full-forward position for Wicklow.

Dowd stated yesterday that he wants to put the incident behind him and consign a difficult period to the past.

“They were very serious accusations that affected myself and everyone in the family,” said Dowd, brother of All-Ireland winning Meath football captain Tommy.

“It was not nice to be involved in and I’m just delighted it’s all over. It was a very annoying thing to be hanging over you for the last few months. It did affect me a good bit and those around me.

“It was something that was blown out of all proportion and I wasn’t going to let it go.

“I was intent on clearing my name and thankfully that happened last night (Wednesday).

“I went through the video with them in Croke Park and told them my side of the story and the issue was put to bed.

“I have friends who are travellers and I don’t have a thing against them or anybody else. I said it all along that I was willing to go as far as I needed to clear my name.”

Meath overcame Wicklow by 0-17 to 0-7 in the early February Kehoe Cup decider. O’Brien was red carded in the first-half of the contest though reports later claimed that he was ‘targeted’ for verbal abuse. Dowd said he wasn’t aware of any racial abuse that took place.

“I heard no abuse whatsoever,” said Dowd. “I went through the video with them (the DRA) and had a chat with them. They listened to my side of the story. I felt I wasn’t being listened to until now.

“It’s just great to be able to get the 100 percent focus back on hurling. The boys need everyone involved in Meath. There’s not a massive amount of people putting their hands up to get involved and I’m more than delighted to be there doing what I can.”


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