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Toxic ‘part of the game’ culture underlies appalling GAA scenes

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Armagh and Galway players clash at the end of normal time at last Sunday's All Ireland football quarter final. Photo: Inpho

Armagh and Galway players clash at the end of normal time at last Sunday's All Ireland football quarter final. Photo: Inpho

Players clash after last week's Galway-Armagh SFC quarter final at Croke Park

Players clash after last week's Galway-Armagh SFC quarter final at Croke Park

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Armagh and Galway players clash at the end of normal time at last Sunday's All Ireland football quarter final. Photo: Inpho

Sir — The truly dreadful scenes witnessed in Croke Park last Sunday in the Armagh v Galway All Ireland football quarter final clash are nothing new to the GAA.

The reasons for this are simple. Firstly, such incidents have been historically tolerated by the GAA authorities and are treated with relative lenience as a result. There is no real appetite to introduce effective sanctions to combat the situation. Furthermore, there is a culture of acceptance among a lot of GAA supporters who regard these incidents as just “part of the game”.

If one looks at the TV clip of the “brawl,” many spectators can be seen smiling and seem content with the events unfolding in front of them.

Many commentators suggest separate tunnels for teams to enter and leave the pitch. Fair enough, but if we just do this, we are admitting that within the GAA fraternity we are uncivilised and incapable of behaving ourselves like participants do in other contact sports. Rugby and soccer teams, at all levels, enter and leave the pitch via the same tunnel and violent incidents are very rare.

The attitude of GAA officials and managers to ill discipline does not help. All red cards and subsequent suspensions are now being appealed and most of these are upheld. This is poor practice and no deterrent to players who break the rules. The culture of ill discipline and indeed violence must change within the GAA.

I have one suggestion to truly deal with a repeat of Sunday’s incident. Any team deemed to be involved in a brawl must in the following season play all their league and\or championship games at an away venue.

It is over to the GAA authorities to finally do something concrete. Don’t hold your breath.

Pat O’ Connor,

Banteer, Co Cork

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