Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Act now against abuse

I was diasappointed this week to see Roscommon boss John Maughan pull the plug with the county and walk away.

Not so much the resignation but the circumstances surrounding it.

Maughan has given everything he has to the game and when he decided to quit because of abuse from supporters, then it's about time we all sat up and listened.

Maughan had enough last week when after a series of poor results, he alleged that several fans turned on him and gave him loads of abuse before, during and after the game.

Now in all honesty Maughan's love affair with Roscommon had turned cold long before last week's final straw.

In league games this season they had been trounced by Monaghan by 13 points and swamped by Armagh by 24 points. The final nail in the coffin was the capitulation to fierce rivals Westmeath. That was end of it - for all parties!

Maughan has left under a cloud with many people within the county saying there was no evidence to say there was any abuse hurled at the manager.

I wonder what planet they have been living on.

Sadly, abuse for managers and players is commonplace and and I would suggest is on the increase.

It has happened in all counties I know.

Joe Kernan complained publicly about the abuse he was receiving near the end of his reign with Armagh and so too Mickey Harte. Who will forget the abuse he took in Omagh over playing his son in the county colours?

In fact abuse was one of the reasons 'Big Joe' threw in the towel. He felt he was hamstrung and wasn't allowed to include his sons simply because they were his sons.

He received smart remarks and abuse as a result.

Mickey Moran too recived his far share of uncomplementary remarks in his time.

I was talking at the weekend to former Dublin boss and now TV pundit Tommy Lyons who said some of the abuse he recieved as Dublin manager was beyond the pale. He said on a few occasions he got the Gardai to remove fans from the ground such was the level of remark he was recieving.

So I think the good GAA people of Rsocommon and indeed further afield, should sit up and take notice.

Personal abuse is rife within the game but should not be tolerated.

Now fans have every right to criticse their team and to complain but when it steps over the mark then it's time to call a halt. Just because someone pays 10 euros at the gate doesn't entitle them to say whatever they like and whenever they like.

The GAA has always calimed it is against the abuse of its referees but has it really dealt with the situation in a serious way?

The penalties for stepping out of line with a referee are not strong enough and that's one area where the hierarcy in the game can get make changes.

At various stages in our lives we have all been down this road and have said and done things which we aren't proud of. The chances are we have been able to get away it.

While the GAA continues to pussy-foot around, the very people who can make a real change are the fans themselves.

The thing that marks out the GAA crowd from other sports is the level of discipline within the crowd itself.

I have seen many times other supporters stepping in to tell some people to stop shouting abuse and using foul language. Nine times out of 10 that works. It appears not enough of those fans were around in Roscommon when needed.

The GAA needs to get real and throw the book at people who are badly out of line.

Incidentally all those loyal Roscommon fans who complained bitterely about the poor performances of John Maughan should take note of last Saturday's result under caretaker boss John Early.

Roscommon lost 3-20 to 7 points agianst Dublin. A whopping 22 point defeat. I wonder who will get the abuse now?

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