Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

GAA booze battle could make Sam the holey grail

GAA sporting cups could have holes drilled in them to prevent teams taking a victory drink out of their prize.

The Republic's HSE and Guinness-sponsored GAA feel the tradition encourages binge drinking and the unmeasured consumption of alcohol.

The organisations have joined forces to fight alcohol abuse with an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) programme.

And GAA officials in Kerry are considering their own plan to drill a hole in the vase of winning cups to deter alcoholic victory celebrations.

A spokesman for the GAA, which enjoys a controversial €1.5m hurling sponsorship deal with Guinness, said there had already been congress motions that cups should not be filled with alcohol after a victory.

The ASAP programme aims to develop a structure of people throughout the country with specific roles at club, county and provincial levels.

To date, four provincial officers and 32 county officers have been appointed to implement the programme. Over 900 club officers have also been appointed to assist county officers in responding to drug and alcohol related issues.

Brian Sugrue, the honorary ASAP county officer in Kerry, said the main objective was to make clubs aware of who to turn to when they recognise a problem. The practice of filling winning cups with alcohol had to be stamped out, he added.

While not an official plan, the GAA in Kerry is looking at ways of doing this, including the possibility of drilling a hole in the bottom of the cup.

Mr Sugrue said the programme was not anti-alcohol, but against the abuse of alcohol. Clubs were also asked to not serve alcohol when medals were given out.

"We are also asking that presentations not be done in bars, and that there is no alcohol-related sponsorship of underage events," Mr Sugrue said.

Brendan Murphy, Irish National Coordinator of the ASAP programme, said: "We're not looking for people to become experts overnight in dealing with drug and alcohol problems, but we are looking for people who are interested in doing something positive to prevent these problems from spreading.''

"Research shows us that involvement in sport is a preventative factor when it comes to young people taking drugs," he added.

David Lane, co-ordinator of drug & alcohol services for the HSE South said: "A lot of people aren't aware of the dangers associated with the misuse of drugs and alcohol."

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