Thursday 22 February 2018

'Degrading' talk about Ulster GAA could cause crowd segregation' - Kieran McGeeney

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney (SPORTSFILE)
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney has said the language sometimes used towards football in Ulster can be "degrading".

And he feels that if the divisive labelling that can underpin descriptions of football in the northern province continues, it could eventually lead to crowd segregation at matches.

McGeeney was speaking at the Ulster Championship launches in Newry, where he suggested that similarly divisive language towards another part of the country might be viewed as discriminatory.

"If any other province got the same descriptive words, it would be seen as an 'anti' thing for that particular part of the country," he said, referring to what he feels is a generally abusive narrative in the media towards Ulster football.

"It's unfortunate. I suppose I know, coming from the North, what that kind of talk can do.

"I don't like it. I find it degrading. I find that TV stations and newspapers that allow it unfortunate, that people can be segregated like that.

"There's never a good end to it, because they create something that is not really there. It's one of those things like religion, that people fight over when they all believe in peace and God.

"I just find the TV and newspapers that allow it. . . I just think it's a bad way to be about the sport.

"I hope we don't get to the point where we are segregating our supporters because of where they are from. But if we keep talking the way we do, people will see that (segregation)."

He repeated his claim made last year that the top southern teams are far more physical than anything he ever came across in the north.

break_the_mould 3.jpg
Joe Kernan and Armagh captain Kieran McGeeney with the trophy in 2002

"I am lucky in the fact that I was in the changing-rooms down south and in changing rooms up north," said the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain.

"I have seen people's perspective of how different teams play and what they do.

"How we look at things and how things are, are completely different. That's frustrating.

"I played for a long time, 17 years, and I would still maintain - and everybody laughs at me for it - the physicality that I had from the top teams down south would be far in excess of the physicality that you get from northern teams."

He defended the reputation of his neighbours and rivals Tyrone and some of the things that have been aimed in their direction over the years and is adamant that he's heard worse abuse from south of the border.

"I think that's wrong. Nobody came up against Tyrone as much as myself," he said. "The rivalry is there. We get stuck into each other. But the players I have known in my time, there is nothing but respect for them.

"I have had far more abuse from a lot of people but it's funny, what gets read and what doesn't. If you did tell the truth sometimes. . . But you don't because you understand that everybody has a job to do the next day and has to get up.

"Sometimes when they say these things, they don't really understand what they are saying or what they are talking about. So you just let it go and you move on."

Dublin players Denis Bastick, holding his son Aiden, Cormac Costello, Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn celebrate after beating Kerry in Croke Park Photo: Dean Cullen / SPORTSFILE

McGeeney accepts that Dublin have set themselves apart as a team but feels they are "no more skilled" than some of the other teams around.

"The probability is that they will (stay ahead) but sport has a tendency to throw up things that you don't prepare for," he said.

"They're good but maybe there is an aura that has increased around them. Competition anxiety, that is a big thing for most of the smaller counties, that doesn't exist in Dublin.

"They have players who have played in Croke Park more in one year than 90pc of players in other counties ever have in a lifetime.

"You see them playing club football and they're able to be marked out of it but as a team there's no doubt Jim (Gavin) has them going well.

"They are fantastic athletes, and good players. I don't think they're any more skilled than a lot of other players around the country but they're a well-oiled, very athletic team."

McGeeney confirmed that Kevin Dyas and Andrew Murnin will miss the rest of the season for Armagh through injury.

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