Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Declan Bogue: Foul language isn’t the curse of GAA so let’s not make a big deal out of it

You might not want your children to hear it, but you can be sure that kids get a thrill out of hearing the odd machine-burst of swearing from an animated sports figure in the white heat of battle.

That's why it was so laughable to see the discomfort that the Sunday Game panel were in when they had to ‘investigate' claims that Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald verbally tore stripes off some of his former Waterford players over a disputed line ball in Sunday's Munster Hurling semi-final. Perhaps it was a Waterford fan calling in to act the goat, but this act in itself shows how unrealistic and immature we can be about swearing.

Red-blooded men, in a game as demanding as hurling, will curse at themselves, the referee and at each other. Let's just accept that as fact.

It put us in mind of 10 years ago, when Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton backed Mick McCarthy in the ‘Saipan issue', mentioning that they had never heard language like what Roy Keane used in their now legendary set-to.

Naturally, Keane was astonished to hear that admission from both. Staunton after all played under Graeme Souness; a man so predisposed to confrontation that his first act on matchdays when he brought his Rangers side into Celtic Park was to blu-tack a poster of the Queen up in the away dressing rooms. Did Souness never swear, wondered Keane?

Or Peter Reid, who Quinn played under for Man City and Sunderland, and who was mortified at his own language during half-time team talks on the 1998 four-part documentary, ‘Premier Passions'.

It's merely a hunch, but as two underage GAA players, I'm willing to bet they heard some colourful phrasing from terraces, managers and other players.

Eddie Brennan spent years in the furnace of Nowlan Park, flaking the life out of corner-backs and getting flaked back in the Kilkenny in-house games. Yet here he was being asked about someone who probably gave him his fill of it down through the years. It was hilarious viewing, really.

Let's not make the GAA into another nanny-state.

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