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Sledging is nothing new but Orchard boss insists there are lines you should not cross if chat gets out of hand

By Declan Bogue

Published 02/06/2015

Under control: Kieran McGeeney says managers should be held responsible for their players’ sledging
Under control: Kieran McGeeney says managers should be held responsible for their players’ sledging

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney has said that the practise of sledging is widespread in the GAA, but expresses his personal hope that there are 'lines you should not cross.'

Speaking at Armagh's press event prior to meeting Donegal on Sunday week, the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain, in his first year as Orchard boss, expressed his surprise at how sledging has arose as a recent phenomenon.

The issue of sledging - a term borrowed from cricket -has been in the news since the Championship opener between Donegal and Tyrone.

However, McGeeney provided many reminders that players reaching for verbal grenades in order to get an advantage over team mates, has been around for a long time.

"I think people have a short memory. There has been plenty of talking since I have been playing football. You just don't pass much remarks on it," he began.

"I think it's present in all sports. You have a competitive arena and two men banging heads off each other, they are going to say stuff to each other. Some people are nastier than others, but it happens."

Alluding to the rumoured content of some of the more unsavoury remarks in circulation that have been traded by players, McGeeney continued: "I do think there are lines that you would hope people would not cross. In terms of, maybe manners is not the right word, but in terms of being human, understanding people's background and stuff."

Last week in his Friday press conference, Dublin manager Jim Gavin suggested that team managers might have a big role in eradicating it from the game, explaining: "I'd go as strong as to say that if there's a culture with a team that obviously a manager has control of, managers need to be held accountable for it if they're seen to be promoting it and county boards need to hold their managers accountable."

McGeeney revealed he had read that with interest.

"I have been on the sideline for a lot of games against a lot of teams and it has existed in all of them. No matter how pure you would like to paint yourself.

"It comes down to the individual; it's how you react to somebody rubbing your hair when you miss a point. How you react when someone leans into your back or hits you a dunt tells you to get up or stop crying. It just depends how you react to that particular situation," he said.

Reports coming from the recent Tyrone-Donegal Championship game in Ballybofey, and the minor opener, has thrown up a series of grave accusations about what was said between players.

McGeeney felt the personal nature of the comments distasteful.

"Some people, if things happen in their lives that they become public, and that's the problem when you are in a public arena, that's going to be thrown back at you, regardless of what it is," he said.

"It's happened years ago. Some of the stuff that's been reported recently, I think it's terrible. You would hope as a human being you wouldn't say those things, but then…

"You just don't like going into it, because it affects things. I have had things said to me by people that are very high-profile, that people think butter wouldn't melt in their mouth. But you just get on with it."

"My thing is that you should always carry yourself with some sort of decorum or class. There are some lines you should not cross."

McGeeney drew attention to the underage work that is going on with the Armagh Academy and talked of their holistic approach in producing the next generation of Armagh footballers.

"We are trying to do things with our Academy, with our young players and they need to understand that better people make better players. There is nothing wrong with getting stuck in and being competitive. Like all sports, people will look at the lines and see how far they can push them.

"You should know. We hope, and there are lines we are teaching our young people that they should not cross."

Relating his own experiences recently, McGeeney revealed that he has on occasion been drawn into a verbal exchange, but ultimately all it serves is to take your focus off the game at hand.

"I remember being given off to for saying something to somebody in the Ulster Championship and I wasn't - I was responding to something they said to me," he stated.

"I would have always felt I didn't need to do that, but you can get caught in conversation."

He continued: "I am on about some big games recently and I have heard some things said by top players. They don't mean them, I think, most of the time.

"It's just 'I am in this thing, and I need to win'.

"But if some of the stuff that is being reported has been said, then there are lines that you should not cross."

Belfast Telegraph

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