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Managers must step up to stamp out 'horrible' GAA sledging -- Farrell
The GPA boss says on-field verbal abuse is ‘horrible to look at’.

DESSIE FARRELL, CEO of the Gaelic Players’ Association has called on managers to “step up” in an effort to rid football and hurling of ‘sledging’.

Verbal abuse on GAA fields has come under scrutiny since Donegal and Tyrone’s hot-tempered Ulster Championship meeting in Ballybofey last month.

Farrell agreed that naming and shaming offenders would be one potential way to counteract the problem, but stopped short of a ringing endorsement for that method before adding where he feels the responsibility ought to lie.

“If players are [comfortable with naming the 'sledgers'], that’s great, and they come out and tell their story. If they’ve been a victim of serial abuse over the years or a concerted sledging campaign against them, not necessarily by an individual or team, but just that they’ve been at the receiving end of that for a period of time, that’s always helpful.

“I’m not too sure if there are too many of those. I think it is more a general issue within the game. It’s just an issue that we need to get on top of because it doesn’t augur well for the game. It’s horrible, horrible to look at. I think the managers and coaches need to step up to the plate here as well.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s being encouraged by some coaches but I’d definitely go so far as to say that coaches are turning a blind eye to it in certain situations and that can’t be tolerated.”

Dessie Farrell Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Farrell added: “Having been involved in the game as a player and now coaching  I just detest the fact that some players would be subjected to this type of abuse when there is no call for it.

“[In] management teams I have worked with, we have taken a zero tolerance approach to this and the ramifications for any player who we’ve coached would be quite serious if we see them engaging in this type of behaviour — there should be no reason for players to have a conversation.”

Though the issue has already drawn a huge amount of attention during the early stage of the Championship, Farrell says that the ongoing problem of verbal abuse of players is one that will be raised in programmes aimed directly at the game’s stakeholders in the coming weeks.

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“This is something we’ve been looking at for a while. I’ve gone on record saying it’s an issue we have to be vigilant of.

“There were some examples of it earlier in the season as well in the league and it’s something that we take very seriously. It’s a big issue for our game and we’re initiating a campaign over the next couple of weeks to try to draw greater awareness among the playing population. It’s a campaign that will be driven by the players themselves to draw more awareness to the problems and the ramifications to the prosperity of the games in the future.”

Originally published at 20.15 on 3 June

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