Sean Cavanagh, who could be in line to succeed Brian Dooher as captain of Tyrone, believes that the GAA is not going far enough in imposing disciplinary measures on clubs deemed to be guilty of involvement in violence.
Three-time All-Ireland winner Cavanagh, who captained Ireland to success over Australia in the 2008 International Rules series and is a former All Star, harbours reservations that while county boards are prepared to invoke severe sanctions, they invariably experience difficulty in policing them.
And he suggests that in the past sentences have been rather lenient, thus leading to a repetition of unsavoury incidents.
“In the past the sentences handed down by the GAA have not been strong enough to help cut incidents of violence out of the sport,” states Moy clubman Cavanagh.
“There seems to be a general acceptance that if a few so-called life bans are thrown out this will suffice. The policing of life bans needs to be looked at because local stewards are always going to let locals into a game.”
Cavanagh’s comments come as representatives of the Dromore and Carrickmore clubs prepare to attend a meeting of the Tyrone Hearings Committee tomorrow night.
It is understood the clubs will formally appeal against elements of the fines and bans that were proposed against them by the Competitions Control Committee following the violence that marred the All County League final at Dunmoyle on November 13.
If either or both clubs remain dissatisfied they can then take their cases to the Ulster Council.
The severity of the sanctions invoked by the CCC evoked considerable reaction in Tyrone but Cavanagh, one of the most highly-respected and articulate players in the game, believes that the GAA must be prepared to take even firmer action.
“I think that the Association has to come down even harder at some point and maybe look at punishing teams that are involved rather than individuals.
“All it would take would be to make an example of one or two teams,” insists Cavanagh.
And he stresses that the incidents which marred the Dromore v Carrickmore final “do nothing for the promotion of our games”.
He adds: “The incidents which occurred highlighted the problems that have been bubbling in the last two or three years.
“It seems to be something that is becoming more prevalent in the GAA especially in club games.”
And he urges that stewarding at matches should be looked at more closely with a view to tightening up security while making the point that referees, now that red cards are being rescinded more regularly, require better support from all sides.
“Stewardship at club games in particular needs to be looked at in conjunction with the protection of referees.
“There needs to be greater emphasis on the whole issue of respect on and off the pitch,” maintains Cavanagh.
“Referees have to be given more power and backing to make decisions.
“Maybe the standard of refereeing needs to be looked at as well.
“I don’t argue that this issue requires addressing, it’s just that I feel the Croke Park authorities should address it more quickly.”
Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin has made it clear that the incidents of violence which blighted the county were dealt with quickly and effectively by the CCC.
“What happened at Dunmoyle did the GAA in Tyrone no favours but we have to learn from this and move on,” adds McLaughlin.