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Someone will die: GAA hero's warning over violence



Plea: Enda McGinley

Plea: Enda McGinley

�INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Plea: Enda McGinley

A worrying trend for violence on the pitch could lead to a GAA player being killed by a single punch, a triple All-Ireland winner has warned.

Enda McGinley, a clinical specialist physiotherapist with the Southern Trust, won Celtic crosses with Tyrone in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Scenes of violence have been caught on camera recently, with clips including last weekend's Down league fixture between Ballyholland and Downpatrick.

Further clashes were captured in games involving Stewartstown and Strabane in the Tyrone Intermediate Championship, as well as Ballinderry and Slaughtneil in the Derry Reserve Championship.

Shocking footage also emerged of referees being assaulted after games, while an Armagh v Tyrone Ulster U20 game in the summer saw several players suspended after fighting broke out.

"Everyone has heard of the one-punch fatalities and there are shocking incidents," said Mr McGinley, who deals with serious trauma in his medical job.

"But all you have to do is catch one person correctly and you can do massive damage.

"Nowadays, with boys having eight, nine or 10 years of strength training behind themselves, the power in those punches is much greater than before, if they are being thrown with intent.

"And the one area that never gets any stronger is your face and bones, your skull and brains."

Mr McGinley said it was now vital that the GAA made a firm stand on player discipline, considering recent examples of player suspensions being overturned on appeal.

Armagh forward legend Steven McDonnell agreed. He said: "Ultimately, it is only going to go one way.

"All it takes is for one person to receive one blow to the head and it can kill them stone dead."

Belfast Telegraph