Thursday 14 November 2019

Clare call in gardaí over online abuse of Fitzgerald


'It remains to be seen how much – if any – progress the gardaí can make, but the fact that Clare decided to make an official complaint on behalf of their long-serving secretary underlines how seriously they are taking the matter' (stock photo)
'It remains to be seen how much – if any – progress the gardaí can make, but the fact that Clare decided to make an official complaint on behalf of their long-serving secretary underlines how seriously they are taking the matter' (stock photo)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Clare County Board have asked the gardaí to investigate a complaint lodged by secretary Pat Fitzgerald arising from the abuse he has received on social media over a prolonged period.

It's a significant development at a time when the level of vitriol directed online at players and administrators in all sports has reached new heights.

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Clare County Board chairman Joe Cooney confirmed that the complaint had been filed with the gardaí in the hope that they will find out who's behind the consistent attacks on Fitzgerald.

"A complaint has been lodged with Clare GAA by an employee (Pat Fitzgerald). It arises from social media and what has been put up on it, not alone over the last couple of months but the last number of years.

"Other officers of Clare GAA have also been badly maligned on social media. It's not good enough for people working as volunteers for the GAA whether at club or county level to be subjected to that. In fact, it's a disgrace.

"It has been going with Pat for a while back, but other officers have been getting it very badly too over the last couple of weeks and months. We've handed it over to An Garda Síochána now and we want a thorough examination to be carried out to find out who's behind it and put an end to it," said Cooney.

It remains to be seen how much - if any - progress the gardaí can make, but the fact that Clare decided to make an official complaint on behalf of their long-serving secretary underlines how seriously they are taking the matter.

It's understood that Fitzgerald came in for particularly nasty social media attacks in recent times as Clare went through the process of finding a replacement for Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor as county hurling manager. The position went to former All-Ireland winner Brian Lohan.

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Meanwhile, Limerick man Shane O'Neill is to be the new Galway hurling manager. He had a very successful stint as manager of Na Piarsaigh, who he guided to All-Ireland club success in 2016 and to the final a year later where they lost to Cuala (Dublin) in a replay.

Landing the Galway job is a big break for O'Neill in what will be his first run at senior inter-county management. John Fitzgerald will be his coach and two selectors to be chosen in the coming weeks.

Despite failing to reach the All-Ireland stages of this year's championship after finishing fourth in Leinster, Galway, the 2017 All-Ireland winners and 2018 runners-up, will be strong contenders for major honours next year.

Micheál Donoghue resigned as manager rather unexpectedly in August.

His selectors, Francis Forde and Noel Larkin, were thought to be in line to replace him, but they decided against it.

O'Neill is expected to attend tomorrow's Galway hurling final between St Thomas' and Liam Mellows in Pearse Stadium.

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