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GAA director slams 'code of silence' after Dubs v Armagh challenge brawl

Davy Byrne incident was “one of the most disappointing events of the past year.”

Byrne was hospitalised for two nights with his injuries.
Byrne was hospitalised for two nights with his injuries.

THE DISCIPLINARY PROBE into Dublin and Armagh’s challenge match brawl followed “an all too depressing pattern” which meant that no players could be punished.

Writing in his annual report, Director General Paraic Duffy slammed the “misguided loyalty” of both counties for refusing to co-operate with the investigation into the incident last summer.

“Group solidarity is one thing,” Duffy wrote. “A code of silence that condones violence is quite another.”

Dubs defender Davy Byrne was hospitalised for two nights and suffered a fractured nose in a row before throw-in in the game, played behind closed doors in July.

Video footage provided to the Central Competitions Control Committee did not shed any light on the incident, and with neither camp willing to provide details, both county boards were fined €5,000 and the investigation petered out.

The incident was ”one of the most disappointing events of the past year,” Duffy wrote.

“The efforts of CCCC to investigate the matter followed an all too depressing pattern.

Even though the name of the player alleged to have been responsible for Davy Byrne’s injury was in general circulation, no assistance was forthcoming from the counties in [bringing] the player to account.

“When the injured player, along with officials from both counties who were present at the game, attended a CCCC Meeting called to investigate the incidents prior to throw-in at the game, nobody could (or would) provide any information that would have allowed appropriate disciplinary action to be taken.

“Given the unwillingness of either county to co-operate in identifying any of the guilty parties, the only option available to CCCC was the proposal of a fine, a penalty that was subsequently imposed at a hearing.”

The cover-up damaged the GAA’s reputation, Duffy added, and he painted both counties’ attempts to dodge sanctions as a “failure of leadership.”

“It will probably be considered naive on my part to criticise the position taken by the counties, but the misguided loyalty that protects players who engage in violent behaviour on the pitch can only be seen, by those concerned with the good of the game, as a failure of leadership.

“Group solidarity is one thing, a code of silence that condones violence is quite another.

While a county may be pleased at avoiding the consequences of ill-disciplined behaviour, the reputation of the GAA suffers on such occasions.

“We have all witnessed how elite professional sport has lost much of its integrity through a loss of genuine sporting values. Codes of silence and cover-ups remind us that Gaelic Games are not immune to such damage.”

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Niall Kelly

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