Eugene McGee: Scenes like these are real cancer in the GAA
The start of the new year and already we have headlines after yet another brawl at a GAA game. Over the years lots of things have changed in the GAA world, usually for the better, but the one constant blot on the good name of the sport is the regular recurrence of outbreaks of violence.
Normally at this time of year, before the season has got properly into action, we don't get incidents like this, so it is a particularly bad omen for the GAA authorities to read about what happened in O'Moore Park (right) in the All-Ireland club JFC semi-final between Tyrone's Derrytresk and Dromid Pearses from South Kerry, which the former won by six points.
I was not at the game so I cannot really discuss the details, but the common routine in these disgraceful incidents was followed: a few players get over-heated as the first half is ending; as the teams head for the tunnel a brawl breaks out, and is aggravated when spectators come charging onto the field and wade in.
I have witnessed many of these melees over the years and I can tell you they can be very frightening, particularly as there are often many children attending.
Half-time usually cools things down, but hostilities are sure to renew near the end of the game, and this is what happened yesterday, with Kerry star Declan O'Sullivan assaulted by at least one spectator.
It is a matter for the authorities to decide, with the assistance of video evidence, who the culprits were.
But again, if we follow the usual GAA ritual on these pathetic incidents, those culprits will get light sentences and, with the usual excuse being 'lack of evidence', more than likely they will have even those penalties watered down by the usual conniving that goes on behind the scenes in GAA politics.
A Mickey Mouse fine and a couple of suspensions are the normal emd result -- and that is exactly why disgraceful and dangerous outbreaks of violence still take place. They are still tolerated in the GAA to a ridiculous extent.
There should be no surprise, therefore, that Sunday's abomination occurred. Nor will there be any surprise when regular outbursts like this take place during 2012.
I am sure there were several neutral people of decency and honesty, including GAA officials, who saw what took place.
All of them have a duty to give evidence fearlessly, but will they? We will wait to see what course of action they take when the matter is dealt with.
GAA president Christy Cooney got a lot of publicity in recent months for describing the payment of managers as "a cancer in the Association" -- but managers do not beat up players or spectators.
With due respect, the real cancer in the GAA for the past 100 years has been the failure of such a great and powerful organisation to prevent or deal with the type of scandalous behaviour that was witnessed on Sunday.
Other sports appear capable of preventing these savage incidents, but not the GAA, it seems.
The sad thing is that the Junior and Intermediate All-Ireland series have been a wonderful success, and the thrill for a Junior player of playing a final under lights at Croke Park is the sporting achievement of a lifetime.
What a pity that a great idea has been debased in this instance by the lunatic fringe that still survives in the GAA.