Friday 26 May 2017

Petty GAA make another bad call

Eamonn Sweeney

The GAA's decision to make Wexford football goalkeeper Anthony Masterson write a letter of apology for his comments after a recent championship game or else face an eight-week suspension is a sickening, mean-minded, dictatorial act of petty bullying which beggars belief. Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.

Wexford, as you may recall, were knocked out of this year's championship by a last-second Limerick point which one umpire waved wide. Referee Derek Fahy sided with the umpire who'd flagged the shot as a point and an upset Masterson commented afterwards, "when games come down to things like that, like you give up so much time of your life and you train so much and you give up everything -- your social life, you miss your family, the whole thing. And a decision like that, it costs you your championship. We had a chance of a replay going into an All-Ireland quarter-final. It's typical of the GAA; Wexford and Limerick stuck into Portlaoise, given a bad referee."

It's easy to see that these are the thoughts of a very hurt and disappointed young man. Yet the GAA's Central Competitions Controls Committee decided to add insult to injury by threatening him with a two-month suspension unless he writes them a letter of apology.

A two-month suspension? Anthony Masterson did not threaten the referee or abuse him, he merely expressed an opinion. You'd wonder if the members of the Committee are taking offence on behalf of the referee or if someone's self-importance has been hurt by the use of the phrase, 'typical GAA'. Either way, there's something very wrong about threatening to suspend someone merely for expressing an opinion. Referees are surely big enough to cope with an odd disparaging word from players.

There's also something ludicrous about the fact that the GAA have let the media know that this letter has been requested, which, in practical terms, renders the apology worthless. Its only purpose is the deliberate public humiliation of a young footballer.

Most of us, I think, would find it absolutely unpalatable to be forced into saying something we didn't mean by the threat of punishment. Your first instinct would be to tell them where they could stuff their 'written apology'. Yet Anthony Masterson will have to subject himself to this indignity because the alternative is missing out on his club Castletown's defence of the Wexford senior football championship.

The day after Wexford's Portlaoise disappointment, Masterson played in the Wexford Division One league final for Castletown, scoring a goal in their victory over Kilanerin. That kind of club commitment is what's best about the GAA. What's worst about the GAA is the presence of those who feel it necessary to humiliate a young man of that calibre.

There are too many bad decisions being made and they're making a mockery out of the championship. I know that, you know that and the players know that. The difference is that we're allowed to say it.

Pass no heed Anthony, you're a bigger man than any of them.

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