Headline-grabbing stories of team and player ill-discipline has done the GAA no favours in recent weeks. The recent junior club football semi-final in Portlaoise created enough news to keep the print, TV and radio media active for weeks.
Last week we had disgraceful scenes at a Third Level football game when the referee had to flee from a group of players. We also had a team mentor in court for striking a young player during a club game.
It all made for depressing reading and if many people are now very angry, they have good reason to be. The GAA will always get big headlines when bouts of ill-discipline are captured on film and, more often than not, those headlines do not start in the mainstream media.
Any incident can now be captured by an amateur photographer and be uploaded on to YouTube moments after it has occurred. The national or local media are not essential all the time to tell us about ill-discipline in games.
Of course, the overall scale of ill-discipline is small when one considers the totality of games played every year and reports can, at times, be exaggerated. But the number of incidents appears to be growing and that’s reason to worry.
The penalties handed down to the Tyrone and Kerry junior clubs sent out a clear message that such misbehaviour will not be tolerated. Perhaps, through the GAA appeal process, some of those penalties will be reduced, but I doubt it.
It looks like Derrytresk from Tyrone will travel to Croke Park on Sunday without eight of their panel who may well be suspended. How will those players feel when their colleagues tog out under the Cusack Stand for a once in a lifetime experience?
Absolutely gutted, I suspect!
Whatever period of suspension each of those players receives will pale into insignificance, though, when compared to missing out on what is undoubtedly their club’s biggest day in history. Oh how they will regret those few moments of utter madness in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
We do not know yet what penalties, if any, might arise from the Third Level colleges game, but there will be repercussions. An incident with an under-age player saw a team official in court last week where he received a suspended sentence.
That one incident, which may well have been out of character for the individual concerned, saw him step down immediately from his role, perhaps never to be involved again with a GAA club.
There are many tales of players missing major occasions with their club or county through suspensions. Such disappointment can last a lifetime as a number of Derrytresk players are now discovering.
But will the suspensions handed down last week for those various misdemeanours really act as an adequate deterrent? Only time will tell!