Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Biting Back: Time for GAA to step up and bare the teeth

Declan Bogue
Declan Bogue

Hard to believe that some people, by way of taking attention off the behaviour of grown men in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday, would rather do away with the traditional pre-match parade before Ulster GAA Championship matches.

As Liam O'Neill countered in a live interview on RTE radio, why would you abandon tradition just because of a one-off display of petulance?

For petulance is most certainly what this is. And in scenarios such as this, control is lost and usually sensible people can get caught up and do some crazy things, such as the spectator caught on camera leaning over the hoardings, swinging a rabbit punch at the head of Cavan's Feargal Flanagan.

Last summer, Limerick won their first Munster hurling title in 17 years. Afterwards, their fans poured onto the Gaelic Grounds pitch in a mass display of emotion and it was one of those glorious images that encapsulates the passion the GAA inspires among teams and their followers.

Officially, the GAA do not approve of such instances. They place netting over the first few tiers of seating in Croke Park to prevent this occurring for All-Ireland finals. The reason for this is that the Garda consider the moment that spectators enter the pitch as being the moment the event controller loses control.

On Sunday, all control was lost as players hyped to the max on their own testosterone and spoonfed a diet of 'do what it takes' cod psychology made complete fools of themselves. It's not the media's fault for pointing this out, like some have suggested already. But the GAA have a duty of care to protect all players and their own reputation. Time to bare the teeth.

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