Tyrone star Cavanagh in call for proper policing of life bans
Published 28/11/2011 | 05:00
Tyrone footballer, Sean Cavanagh, yesterday called for stricter policing of GAA life bans.
The celebrated midfielder believes there is an element of tokenism in how the association dispenses punishment for the kind of scenes that marred a recent league final between Dromore and Carrickmore in his own county.
While Tyrone disciplinary chiefs dished out bans totalling 452 weeks to the culprits, Cavanagh is unconvinced by the enforcement process.
"I think in the past that sentences handed out by the GAA haven't been strong enough to cut this out of the game," said Cavanagh. "There seems to be a general acceptance that if we (the GAA) throw out a few so-called life bans (it will do).
"The policing of life bans needs to be looked at, because local stewards are always going to let locals into the game. I think the GAA really has to come down hard at some point and maybe look at punishing the teams that are involved rather than the individuals."
Speaking on Setanta, Cavanagh also called for stricter stewarding at club games, offering greater protection for referees. The four-time All Star offered a blood-curdling insight into the fractious nature of club rivalry in Tyrone.
He recalled: "Five or six years ago I played a match at their (Dromore's) home ground and a row broke out in the stands and on the pitch. We had to wait around the pitch for 35, maybe 40 minutes afterwards because the spectators were covering the players' exits.
"It's not sport, it's not GAA and it shouldn't be happening."
Cavanagh also recalled being physically attacked by a supporter while playing underage.
He explained "In an U-16 championship final in Tyrone, I was walking back to the team huddle and a 40-year-old man struck me from behind. A mass brawl broke out in the crowd and on the pitch. It eventually got sorted out, with the Tyrone County Board handing out punishments. If that happened on the street an awful lot more would have been done about it. But people think if it's on the field of play, we can get away with it.
Cavanagh believes Tyrone are entering a "transitional period" at county level and described Peter Canavan's decision to become Fermanagh boss as "a cute move."
He explained: "Peter has nothing to lose. No matter what happens he will still have his reputation at the end of it. Fingers crossed, he'll go there and do a good job and maybe someday we'll see him on the line for Tyrone."
•LEITRIM are on the hunt for a new senior football manager after Mickey Moran was forced to step down from the position due to health reasons.