Colm Parkinson: Sneaky sledging not an issue but aggressive version a blight on GAA
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
Sledging is part and parcel of sport, not just the GAA, and is very difficult to eradicate. Experienced referee Maurice Deegan was on the show recently and he explained how hard it is to police and I agree to a certain extent.
In my experience playing and from watching games now there are two types of sledging.
First there is the 'sneaky sledger', usually a corner-back, who talks to his opponent throughout the game.
Legendary Tyrone defender Ryan McMenamin fell into this category. Ryan is a self-confessed sledger. All his best (or worst) work goes unnoticed throughout a match. He usually delivers his insults in a calm manner off the ball and, as Maurice said, is an elusive offender.
I have absolutely no problem with this type of sledging. It has always been in the game and always will.
Intercounty footballers are big boys and the majority of ammunition sledgers use is nonsense anyway.
The second type is the aggressive sledger. This type of sledging has crept into the game in the last ten years. Pillar Caffrey's Dublin pioneered this type of abuse - trust me, I've been on the receiving end of it.
This occurs when your opponent misses a score of if your own team scores - the reaction of the sledger is to goad and jeer the opposing player rather than celebrate himself.
Missing an important score is bad enough but for an opponent to laugh in your face afterwards has a demoralising effect. It's also beginning to occur when frees are awarded.
The optics of this behaviour is awful and it needs to be addressed by referees.
In contrast to the sneaky sledger, the aggressive sledger is very easy to notice. I saw countless examples of it on Sunday watching on TV and it really paints Gaelic football in a bad light.
When 'verbal abuse to a team-mate or opponent' is a black card offence, why is this type of behaviour tolerated? Let's hope we see a black card for this offence sooner rather than later.