Monday 18 December 2017

Donegal happy with Omagh security despite 'spit' incident

Referee Joe McQuillan, shows Michael Murphy, Donegal, hidden, a red Card at the end of the first half.
Referee Joe McQuillan, shows Michael Murphy, Donegal, hidden, a red Card at the end of the first half.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

THE Donegal County Board say they have no issue with the protection offered to their players at Healy Park in Omagh last Sunday after it emerged that Karl Lacey was spat at as he left the pitch area after Tyrone's 1-13 to 0-12 victory.

Donegal chairman Sean Dunnion said they were satisfied with the level of security offered to them despite the incident, which is at the centre of an investigation by the Tyrone County Board.

Lacey, who wasn't playing, was spat at as he made his way down the tunnel, Dunnion confirmed.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and county board chairman Ciaran McLoughlin visited the Donegal dressing-room afterwards and conveyed their apologies on behalf of the county to Lacey and Donegal.

Dunnion said: "I don't think it was Karl specifically they were aiming at. We're happy to leave it in Tyrone's hands."

GAA president Liam O'Neill, speaking in Croke Park at the launch of the GAA's anti-bullying policy, said such behaviour had no place in Gaelic games.

"If the Tyrone County Board apologised, that's the correct thing to do.

"I have always said that any behaviour that makes anyone feel less good about themselves or about being involved in Gaelic games is abhorrent to me.


"I wouldn't condone that type of behaviour and to spit at anyone is disgraceful behaviour.

"I really cannot understand the behaviour of anybody who insults or demeans anyone. It has no part in Gaelic games.

"My message to those people is 'we don't need you'. I don't want them in our organisation and I don't want them going to our games. I would appeal to them to go and leave our games to people who want to come and enjoy themselves."

Meanwhile, Dunnion confirmed that Donegal had been given until March 31 by the Ulster Council to complete work on MacCumhaill Park to bring it up to an 18,000 capacity ahead of their opening Ulster Championship tie against Tyrone on May 26.

It's a home fixture for Donegal but, because demand will exceed capacity, they risk being forced to move the match to Clones.

"We're confident we will get the work completed and that the match will be fixed for Ballybofey," said Dunnion.

The Donegal chairman's optimism may be misplaced as, even if they get the work at MacCumhaill Park done in time, the venue may not be deemed big enough to stage the match.

An attendance of almost 10,000 in Omagh for a league match suggests that the demand will easily exceed 20,000 for the championship showdown.

Irish Independent

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