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'Show me any good that comes out of them' - Donaghy calls for GAA to 'shut down' fan forums

Kieran Donaghy is ‘fearful’ for the current generation due to the rise of online trolls.

Kieran Donaghy at the launch of the new Laochra Gael series.
Kieran Donaghy at the launch of the new Laochra Gael series.
Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

KIERAN DONAGHY SAYS more needs to be done to protect GAA players from the online trolling that is becoming more prevalent in society. 

And the Kerry legend believes GAA discussion forums on the internet should be “shut down” due to their toxicity.

Speaking at the launch of the 18th series of Laochra Gael, which includes an episode on his career with the Kingdom, Donaghy raised concerns for the current generation of players.

“It’s something that I was always able to handle very easily, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s through the sport, maybe the adversity I faced on the pitch allows me to handle it better, but I’m fearful, I’ve got two young girls” he admitted.

“You have to get some kind of passport online so that people can’t be sitting out there with a random name up hurling abuse at people. 

“It’s tough for young players coming through, everything is scrutinised that bit more.

“I have no issue with people saying stuff if they can be held accountable for but this being able to say stuff and not be held accountable is wrong.

“And you know what, these forums that every county has, if the GAA was to do one thing I’d shut down everyone one of those forums. They are such a negative forum, (there’s) lot of poison inside in them and people giving out.

“And there is literally no need for it because 90% of the people don’t have a clue what they are talking about anyway.

“But it gives them a massive voice to talk about people or say they should have done this or that, getting personal with people. The one thing the GAA should be doing I’d shut down all the forums. I’d shut them down.

“I always say if you’re on a team and you have lots of positive fellas around the buzz is positive. One or two negative fellas can start to put it down but the positive fellas will say, ‘Hai, cut it out.’

“But if you’re in a room with 20 negative people it just rumbles on. They feed each other and they’re off and they’re uncontrollable at home on the keyboard or whatever. They are fans’ forums but I would urge the GAA to cut them out because I don’t know if any good comes out of them.

“Show me any good that comes out of them and show me that I’m wrong. There is enough social media out there to let you know if a game is off or on or whatever. These forums, I think all they’re for is negativity.”

_private_var_mobile_Containers_Data_Application_4EB5DEAD-64DD-4723-9884-1EA2C1CCD282_tmp_14247423-D5F4-4E25-80C8-28B804705952_Image The new series of Laochra Gael starts on 5 March. Source: TG4

Last March, Donaghy was vocal on the issue after an image posted online of AFLW star Tayla Harris led to a slew of derogatory comments.

Donaghy called for greater education for sportspeople to handle abuse, which has become commonplace in the GAA too.

In July, Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald said the government must intervene as a matter of urgency after witnessing the impact increasing levels of online abuse had on young players. 

Clare GAA said they asked the Gardai to investigate following online trolling aimed at count board officers last November.

GPA chief executive Paul Flynn revealed during the off-season that some players missed work due to the hateful messages they received by users. Young inter-county players are now being educated “around the dangers of social media” according to Flynn, who added that “online abuse is epidemic across society.”

And the subject has become a topic of international debate following the death of British TV presenter Caroline Flack last weekend.

“Social media, I use it for work but it’s a dangerous tool in many ways and I think it is wrong that people can launch into an account and say and do what they want to people,” said Donaghy.

“My basketball camp is on again this easter and I do two 15 minute talks for both groups the first day about online bullying social media, how to handle it and not to be a part of it because I think they might take it a bit better from me.

“We are guilty of it ourselves… you see people might have an opinion and they put it up and there’s a bite back in the comments, it’s not just a disagreement, there is bite there constantly. 

“And there’s an old saying if you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything at all and if more people took on that it would be no harm but it is tragic what happened Caroline Flack.

“That’s a very highlighted incident but it’s happening all over the world right now, kids are taking their own lives because of what is going on.  

“You know back in the day you’d take a hiding you’d go to your room and you lick your wounds and come back out, you wouldn’t have to worry about waking up in the morning seeing more stuff, it is very tough on the younger generation. Whether they bring it in as a school topic or something has to be looked at to help them how to handle it. 

“People need to cop on. Sportspeople are trying their best to win for their teams. 

“For GAA players and GAA managers, Jesus they are they are in try and help young people or to win games with whatever team they are with. They shouldn’t have that abuse.

“We have to be looking out for each other and figure out a way to help this younger generation coming up. We are all old enough to take it but young people might not be and we need to look out for that as much as we try to help them on the pitch and be it school or clubs and the GAA.

“I know they do great work on it, but even to up it more and get a firm word out there. And come down on people and call out people that are trolls but then you are giving them oxygen so it is a tricky one.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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