Wednesday 13 December 2017

Tyrone captain Cavanagh fears on-field abuse has gone too far

Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh gets involved in a tussle with Donegal's Neil Gallagher off the ball
Tyrone captain Sean Cavanagh gets involved in a tussle with Donegal's Neil Gallagher off the ball

Martin Breheny and Donnchadh Boyle

Sean Cavanagh has expressed concerns that the amount of abuse directed at players by opponents during games could have serious repercussions for their mental well-being.

The Tyrone captain said he has grown used to it over the years, but fears that less experienced players might take it more seriously.

"There is so much on mental health now and there are players in dark places. You would hope that it wouldn't come to a stage that some player tries to do something silly if he has been abused or had a bad game and people have really gotten on his case," said Cavanagh.

He also revealed that players' families are being targeted by some players in an attempt to provoke opponents.

"Someone shouting at you that you're going to miss a free - you laugh at it. But whenever it gets deeper into family history, girlfriends and wives, it gets a bit malicious at that stage.

"That's down to the individual involved. I would hope that it's not being coached or encouraged by management teams," he said.

Television cameras picked up instances of 'sledging' during Sunday's Donegal-Tyrone game in Ballybofey and Cavanagh admitted that players "did overstep the mark to some extent".

He predicted that the same will apply during the Cavan-Monaghan game next Sunday.

"You're going to get that - the higher the level you go and the more local the rivalries get."

Cavanagh explained that some of the abuse can be "very, very personal," making it hard to take.

Referring to Sunday's game, he said that certain Tyrone players who had been through tough times had received "a fair bit of personal abuse".

The Donegal County Board declined to comment on his remarks.

Cavanagh sees no easy solution to the 'sledging' problem because it's hard to police. "I can look away and call you a name and say something about your family and your child and no one will ever know."

He is also concerned that the increase in 'sledging' is giving Gaelic games a bad name.

"It certainly wouldn't be a good advertisement for younger players coming into the game, especially if they are thinking of taking up soccer or rugby."

Irish Independent

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