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God Save The Queen taunts 'racial abuse', says Armagh board

By John Campbell

Armagh County Board last night expressed concern at the “partitionist provocation” they claim has been directed at their players and has gone unpunished by the GAA.

It comes just 48 hours after their captain Ciaran McKeever was sent off for allegedly kicking a Laois opponent in the tunnel in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise at half-time in Sunday's league defeat.

McKeever faces a two-match ban for the alleged incident, which he has vehemently denied to Armagh officials.

The GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) acted on referee Michael Duffy's report, which reported McKeever for the alleged kick and also proposed that Armagh assistant manager Paul Grimley should serve a three-month suspension for his angry confrontation with the match official after the game.

Duffy had red carded McKeever just before the second half restarted when the teams came back out on to the field.

McKeever initially refused to leave the field, adamant he had done nothing wrong.

They claim that “alleged racist and personal abuse directed at our players is apparently going unpunished” and is contrary to GAA rules.

An Armagh statement on Tuesday night said: “The chanting of ‘God Save the Queen' and malign taunting of ‘British b*****d' has no place either on or off the field of play.

“This is provocation in the extreme and at variance with Rule 1.2 that “the Association is a national organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the national identity in a 32-county Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic games and pastimes.

“This partitionist mindset is contrary to the preamble in the Treori (Rules).”

They also claim that such abuse is in direct contravention of Rule 1.12 that “the Association is anti-sectarian and anti-racist.

“Any conduct by deed, word or gesture of a sectarian or racist nature against any player, official, spectator or anyone else, in the course of activities organised by the Association, shall be deemed to have discredited the Association.”

Armagh officials have already indicated that they will vigorously defend McKeever, who was banned for one match earlier in the league for his part in the altercation between Armagh and Cork players on the opening weekend of action.

Laois chairman Brian Allen revealed on Tuesday night that his County Board had conducted an investigation into incidents that took place during the interval in Sunday's game and found no evidence of any racial abuse directed by any of their players.

“We have looked into it and we have no evidence to say whether it happened or not,” he said.

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Crossmaglen Rangers’ All-Ireland club football final replay against Garrycastle has been set for Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan on Saturday, March 31 with a 5.00pm throw-in.

It had been thought that the game would go on in either Cavan or Navan and the choice of the former venue has been welcomed in Crossmaglen. “We don’t mind where we are asked to go but obviously Cavan is not a particularly long journey nor is it too inconvenient for Garrycastle.

“This should mean that there will be a decent crowd there,” says Crossmaglen’s Tom McKay.

Extra-time will be played should the teams finish all-square.

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