After-match brawl brings shame on GAA

A call has been made for a special meeting of the GAA in the county to address the increasing violence creeping into the game here after a brawl marred the county championship programme at the weekend.

A call has been made for a special meeting of the GAA in the county to address the increasing violence creeping into the game here after a brawl marred the county championship programme at the weekend.

Brian McEniff made the call after more than 40 people were involved in violent scenes when the final whistle was blown between Glenswilly and Naomh Conaill at Davy Brennan Memorial Park in Glenties on Sunday.

The clashes involved mentors and players from both sides and left Naomh Conaill’s county player Leo McLoone requiring surgery to an eye injury. He is understood to have suffered a broken bone and a chip to another bone on his face and will miss the Ulster final with Derry as a result.

Seasoned watchers of the game have described the scenes as some of the worst ever witnessed in a championship match in the county.

The incident comes after an alleged assault on a referee in the county last month and just one week after two people, including a referee, were injured in ugly scenes at a ladies football game in Tyrone.

Tom Comack, Donegal Democrat/DPP GAA correspondent, described the scenes as ugly. “All hell broke loose shortly after the final whistle with the vast majority of players, mentors, and substitutes from both sides involved,” he said.

The Democrat’s sports editor Peter Campbell, who was covering the game, said the scenes were unacceptable. “We had just witnessed a very good game which was well handled by the referee. But what happened afterwards with players, mentors and supporters involved in a free-for-all with fists and boots should not be tolerated and has no place in sport. Everybody involved has to take responsibility for their actions. If it means that severe sanctions have to be handed out to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, then that should happen.”

The brawl broke out in the middle of the field after referee Seamus McGonigle blew the final whistle. The incident escalated rapidly and soon involved players, staff and substitutes. A second clash then broke out at the other end of the pitch. The whole incident lasted about a minute.

Writing in today’s Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press, Brian McEniff condemned the incident and called for the county executive “to stand up and be counted”. Such incidents have no place in the game and can’t be tolerated, he said.

“It cannot be allowed to continue. It simply is not acceptable. I know winning is important, but it is not everything and my big fear is unless action is taken and quickly, someone will receive a serious injury and then it will be too late.”