Thursday 22 March 2018

Inter-county hurler threatens to quit after allegedly suffering racist abuse

Andy O'Brien in action for Wicklow
Andy O'Brien in action for Wicklow

A hurler from the travelling community has threatened to walk away from the sport he loves after he was allegedly abused over the weekend.

Wicklow's Andy O'Brien (27) claims he was targeted during Sunday's Kehoe Cup final against Meath in Trim on Sunday and was so riled up by the abuse that he was sent off 15 minutes into the contest which the Royals won 0-17 to 0-7.

A formal complaint has been made by the Wicklow County Board and is being investigated by the GAA.

"I was racially abused. It was out of order. I was called 'tinker' and 'knacker' and every name under the sun," O'Brien told the Irish Daily Star.

"I was shocked that this would happen at inter-county level. I have played for Wicklow for over 10 years and this is the first time I was racially abused.

"It's blatant discrimination. Like 'go back to the campfire' I've never been in a caravan in my life.

"I'm determined to do something about this. I have a lot of nephews and I don't want this happening to them.

O'Brien was honoured at the Traveller Pride Awards in 2011 after receiving an award for his performances in the Christy Ring Cup.

The father-of-two has threatened to quit the game if the issue of racism is not tackled.

"My family was there and my father heard it," he added.

"It's racism and is just the same as racism against a black person.

"I will pack in the hurling if nothing is done about this."

A spokesperson for the Meath County Board has said that they were unaware of the claims and were awaiting the referee's report from the game.

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