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O’Neill wades in to defend qualifier draw

By John Campbell

What appeared to be harmless banter between a number of inter-county players over the qualifiers draw between Cavan and Kildare, has the potential to escalate following a blistering defence of the draw by GAA President, Liam O’Neill.

Speaking at the launch of a GAA’s Concussion Awareness Video Campaign in Croke Park, O’Neill defended the integrity of the draw.

He expressed his hurt at the allegations, saying: “It was one sided and it was outrageous to suggest that a draw would be rigged.

“They called into question the honesty of the entire TV3 crew, the games section in Croke Park, they called into question my honesty and the honesty of Liam Hayes and the two camerame and that is outrageous absolutely outrageous.

“I’d love someone to demonstrate to me how that can be rigged.

“Why on earth would a GAA president lower himself to the state where he fixed a draw?”

O’Neill continued his spirited defence, claiming: “What’s really hurtful is I have never, ever criticised any player in my life as an administrator.

“I have never said anything bad about any player and I find it outrageous that people would tweet what apparently was tweeted about us and the message has to go to the players that doing it on Twitter doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.

“I take a very dim view of it. I am not going to do anything this time but something I am watching carefully and will not accept people slandering me like that.”

TV3’s GAA analyst Liam Hayes was also implicated in the controversial tweets, and O’Neill defended Hayes when he commented: “I only met Liam Hayes a few moments before we walked into the studio together.

“Liam Hayes is a very sober type of journalist, not someone you have banter with.

“He is a very serious man and someone for whom I have very serious respect.

“His only comment on me wasn’t all that favourable, so to suggest that we would collude in a draw is stretching it a bit.

“But for anyone to think that Liam Hayes would do anything other than the totally honest thing is outrageous and I’d like to stand up for him in the same way I stand up for myself.”

O’Neill finished up by saying there was a limit to his tolerance for tweets of this nature; “How long would you accept slander? There is a stage if people continue to slander you that you will have to take action. I’m not even sure what to do about it.

“I want to put down a marker; it’s not acceptable, it just shouldn’t happen and I don’t want it to happen again.”

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Munster Council chairman Sean Walsh has revealed that Waterford wanted a financial ‘sweetener' to play this year's provincial senior hurling final against Tipperary at Semple Stadium.

Walsh confirmed that Waterford floated the idea at the provincial body's CCC meeting on June 7. The proposal was withdrawn by Deise delegate Anthony Walsh when he was informed that it was out of order. Former Kerry chairman Sean Walsh also revealed that Waterford had explored the idea of a ‘sweetener' prior to the 2011 final against Tipp.

Munster chiefs decided then that similar requests would receive short shrift — but Waterford still decided to try again this year.

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