Farrell: Players back fair play campaign

Conor McKeon

OVER 60% of players surveyed by the GPA felt that sledging and other forms of poor sportsmanship are now a concern in inter-county football and hurling.

The figures were revealed by GPA CEO Dessie Farrell (right) yesterday at the launch of the player's body's new Fair Play Campaign, the tag line of which is 'Your Legacy'.

Though the details of the award are not yet finalised, the initiative aims to reward players for positive actions on and off the field.

The scheme had been mooted before the explosion of coverage of 'sledging' following a handful of high profile incidents and accusations at the beginning of summer, though Farrell confirmed that the nature of the claims motivated the GPA to bring the establishment of the award to fruition for the end of this season.

"There's the verbal abuse and then there's the unsavoury stuff that happens around the awarding of frees at the breakdown," Farrell explained.

"That sort of brawling, pulling and dragging, grabbing each other around the throat, headlocks, pinching, and biting.

"Then there's the whole issue of diving and feigning

"It's not rampant within the game, but 60 per cent of the players thought it was a concern for us.

"So it was prudent to try and take a bit of a sounding from players as to where this is what and what their views on it are.

"And the overwhelming majority of players felt it was important for players to be taking a lead role in this.

"I think moreso than ever the players understand that their character and reputation is on display at all times. That it can be difficult in the heat of the battle to do the right thing. "

On the subject of verbal abuse, Armagh forward Jamie Clarke said the practice was more prevalent in Ulster, though he added: "there are times when you are playing southern teams, and you stupidly have got sectarian abuse, even though it doesn't make sense when you are playing Gaelic football."

"Ultimately, teams will do whatever it takes to win - but the biggest aspect of this campaign is to highlight fair play," Clare continued.

"The black card, with the introduction of that, the whole area of diving and feigning injury has become more prevalent. And that is something to look out for."