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Sean Og O hAilpin: no time for abuse

Sean Og O hAilpin: no time for abuse

Sean Og O hAilpin: no time for abuse

VETERAN Cork star Sean Og O hAilpin revealed yesterday that he has often suffered racist abuse while playing Gaelic games, but he stressed he has never encountered it at inter-county level.

In the wake of Armagh's allegations that they had been subjected to "sectarian and racist" comments during their match against Laois last weekend, O hAilpin urged the GAA to stamp out such behaviour immediately.

"There should be action because acts like that should not be tolerated and there should be penalties involved," he said.

"If you racially abuse someone in Aussie Rules and it is reported, there is a huge penalty. That stuff is just not tolerated over there.

"There should be strong penalties (here) because it carries a threat then. If people know there aren't going to be many penalties, it might continue to happen.

"It's spur-of-the-moment stuff and, human beings being what they are, it happens.

"My way of dealing with it was that it happens, accept it and just move on, try not to react, but I must say that a lot of it stopped when I started representing Cork.

"I had none of it whatsoever during my Cork days. Okay, a fella might eff you out of it for making a bad tackle, but that's the extent of the abuse I've come across."

The eldest of the three brothers of Irish/Fijian parentage who have all represented Cork at senior level, Sean Og was 10 years old when his parents moved from Australia to Cork.

The three-time All-Ireland winner and All Star wing-back was controversially dropped by Cork boss Denis Walsh last year but, at 34, O hAilpin was thrown an inter-county lifeline by Walsh's successor Jimmy Barry-Murphy this season and is currently fulfilling a new midfield role for the Rebel County.

Yet, ahead of Sunday's Division 1A clash with unbeaten Kilkenny, O hAilpin admitted candidly that he does not expect to win another All-Ireland.

"Hand on heart, no," he said. "I'd love to and I think the current management are going about it the right way, but people are just going to have to be patient with them until such a time that our younger brigade get more experience under them."

O hAilpin likened the Rebels' situation to 1996, when JBM was last in charge.

"It took Jimmy three years before we'd assembled a team ready to compete again and maybe it was a wise move to give him three years this time because they usually get two," he said. "I've no doubt that on any given day we can give any of the big teams a rattle, but to win a championship you need to back that up over the course of the summer and that's where Cork need to get consistency.

"The jury is still on on whether I still have the goods, but if I feel I can make an impact, especially with these young guys coming up, if I can help them I'd be delighted to do it.

"There's only three or four guys left on the panel who have All-Ireland medals.

"I'm not boasting because we have them, but we like to feel that we know what it takes to get there and if we can pass that knowledge on to the young fellas and tell them, 'look, to carve out an inter-county career is not easy, these are the pitfalls, this is what's required', that's how I see my role."

O hAilpin stressed that Cork are "way down" hurling's pecking order right now. "Maybe we don't want to admit it but that's where we are, it's a matter of working ourselves back up there," he said.

"I've no doubt we will and the likes of myself won't be there at that stage, but if we can help in some way before we're all shipped out then it'd be worth staying the journey."

O hAilpin is an ambassador for the 2012 An Post Cycle Series. See www.anpost.ie/cycling

Irish Independent