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GAA's toxic culture has to change, says ex-Monaghan star Dick Clerkin


Had enough: Dick Clerkin wants change after the brawl between Armagh and Tyrone in the U20 Championship
Had enough: Dick Clerkin wants change after the brawl between Armagh and Tyrone in the U20 Championship
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

The chairman of the GAA's Science, Medical and Welfare Committee, former Monaghan footballer Dick Clerkin, has called for a culture change in Gaelic Games following Friday night's ugly scenes during the course of the Ulster Under-20 Championship tie between Armagh and Tyrone.

The game went to two periods of extra-time, with Armagh booking their passage to the Ulster final against Derry on June 24, but was marred by a mass brawl involving substitutes who left their area and team mentors who got involved in the violence.

Already there is speculation of heavy financial penalties for both counties, a course of action which Clerkin does not believe is the correct deterrent, with the Ulster Council awaiting a report from the matchday referee Niall McKenna.

"At the end of the day, at what stage are we going to fundamentally do something about this?" posed Clerkin.

"Do we really see ourselves in 10 years' time, with this still happening, and it is okay, because it has been okay to date? It's not okay.

"I have had conversations with people and the immediate reaction is to point the finger at referees and the standard of refereeing.

"But therein lies the problem. We will always look for excuses, both when it's our own experience and for others. It doesn't matter how bad the refereeing was, that's what we saw on Friday night and on Saturday night, but there is no place for it.

"There is bad refereeing in all sports and all games and we don't see (brawls). So why do we think it is okay in GAA?

"There is a toxic culture in the GAA that this has been allowed to grow. We are all guilty, and I am guilty, but nobody wants to stand up and say something about it because they feel they are compromised, their own club, their own county or individually they are involved, so how do you have a mandate?"

In the past, both counties and clubs have received heavy fines after similar scenes, but this only masks the problem, believes Clerkin.

"Financial penalties are totally the wrong approach. Why? Because they have failed to date," he stated.

"You can fine the life out of a county board but it won't change the mindset of a player one bit.

"What is the watershed? Does some lad have to get hospitalised and does it have to go to the High Courts before we realise we need to change this?"

Meanwhile, the draw for round two of the All-Ireland qualifiers was made yesterday morning.

There are a number of interesting ties, with Cavan and Down set for an all-Ulster tussle.

This game has been fixed for Brewster Park in Enniskillen due to Kingspan Breffni Park undergoing repairs.

There will be special interest in the visit of Tyrone to Netwatch Dr Cullen Park to take on Carlow, with the Barrowsiders, who lost to Laois on Sunday in the Leinster SFC semi-final, having Steven Poacher of Down as their coach.

Round 2 qualifiers draw

Saturday, June 23

Waterford v Monaghan - 2pm - Fraher Field, Dungarvan

Tipperary v Mayo - 5pm - Semple Stadium, Thurles

Cavan v Down - 5pm - Brewster Park, Enniskillen

Carlow v Tyrone - 5pm - Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow

Sligo v Armagh - 6pm - Markievicz Park, Sligo

Longford v Kildare - 7pm - Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford

Leitrim v Louth - 7pm - Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon

Sunday, June 24

Offaly v Clare - time TBA - O'Connor Park, Tullamore

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