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Violent attacks in GAA must end now

Hard men is a euphemism that has served the GAA well over the years.

It’s an expression that covers a multitude of players, from tough, no holds barred competitors largely, to plain thugs, who seem to think that wearing a GAA jersey allows them to behave with downright contempt towards players and officials alike.

This sadly applies whether the ‘hard man’ is obeying the rules or abusing them.

Television in fairness has been the biggest factor in highlighting the violent players who have no scruples in operating outside the rules.

Years ago it was common for referees to be ‘got at’ before their report was submitted and many a brutal deed was watered down sufficiently or left vague enough to allow the committee in charge to claim they didn’t have adequate proof to punish the offender.

The horrific and brutal injuries sustained by Kevin Nugent, a member of Armagh’s 2009 All Ireland minor winning side in a club game last weekend is a reminder there can be no room for complacency.

Nugent (19), a first year business student at UUJ, suffered horrific injuries in an unsavoury incident.

His chin bone was broken. The top of his jaw was broken, part of his lower jaw dislodged and left pressing against the nerves of his lower gum which was split. All his lower teeth were displaced.

In the light of the incident the time for pious words and wringing of hands is long since past.

Armagh’s disciplinary body, the CCC, must put down a marker that such behaviour won’t be tolerated.

The reality is that what happened to Nugent was by no means

an isolated case and whether they like it or not the GAA has a major problem when it comes to disciplinary matters at club level.

A combination of live television and DVDs have gone a long way towards cleaning the game up at county level, but it’s at club level where ugly scenes can unfortunately occur.

If you want proof just check the local papers or better still run you eye down the various message boards and you will come across a litany of incidents, each one worse than the last.

Don’t for one minute let anyone kid you.

What happened to Nugent was far from being an isolated case.

Parents reading and hearing about what befell young Nugent will think twice before allowing their sons to become involved in a sport with such a dreadful disciplinary record at club level.

The GAA now must now act quickly and send out a loud and unequivocal message that bully boys have no place in the sport if its players are to thrive in a healthy and non-violent environment.

Belfast Telegraph

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