Friday 18 October 2019

Higher GAA body to review Meath chairman's WhatsApp message to referee


Former Meath chairman Peter O'Halloran Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Former Meath chairman Peter O'Halloran Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Colm Keys and Michael Verney

Meath county board is to ask a "higher GAA authority" to investigate a complaint made against its former chairman Peter O'Halloran by referee Patrick Neilis over the content of a WhatsApp message O'Halloran sent to Neilis in 2017.

The message came to light in recent weeks and prompted O'Halloran to step down on Friday night, citing an "error of judgement" which he acknowledged he made in a communication with Neilis.

O'Halloran, then chairman of the county's CCC, said to Neilis that he would be sending him "to ride Slane in a month or so". Slane are a Junior B club in Meath.

Neilis said he was shocked by the request and didn't respond initially but then followed it up a few weeks later, on the advice of friends he consulted with, asking when he was required to go to Slane in the hope that the initial text was not meant. The response was "in May or June when things die down".

O'Halloran and Neilis have confirmed the request was never carried out and O'Halloran said in a statement last week that he sent it in the "heat of the moment", adding it was a "bad call" that he "deeply regretted". He had been Meath chairman since December 2017.

Meanwhile, Carlow football coach Steven Poacher has warned that the introduction of a second tier will spell disaster if it gets the green light at next month's Special Congress.

GAA president John Horan has pushed for the establishment of a tiered championship but Poacher feels it could have terrible consequences, likening it to the marketing of hurling's lower tiers.

"Every president wants to leave their own particular mark and the legacy of the tiered championship seems to be John Horan's," said Poacher. "But we need to be careful what we wish for as it could be another disaster.

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"The column inches hurling's lower tiers get is embarrassing and football will be the same. They can promise all they want but no one will give one flute, the rich will be rich and the poor will get poorer."

Recalling Carlow's stirring Leinster SFC display against Dublin two years ago – which was televised live – and their shock defeat of Kildare in 2018, Poacher believes every county has "earned the right to have the chance of taking a scalp on a big day".

The Down native added: "It's about what it does for everyone down the food chain and people have to start realising this."

Irish Independent

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