by Con Dennehy
Killarney handball star Aoife Walsh was celebrating at the weekend following her phenomenal success at the inaugural the Spa 1 Wall Slam competition.
The tournament, played at the Spa GAA facility on Saturday, attracted players from Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Dublin. However, pride of place on the honours list was reserved for Walsh, a member of the Spa Killarney Handball Club.
Having advanced to the finals of the Ladies B competition, she outclassed her opponent, Bríd Horgan (Cork), with a polished display to win the prestigious title on a 21-16 scoreline. The victory establishes Walsh as one of the most promising young players in the county.
Also a winner at the ‘She’s Ace’ tournament in Northern Ireland earlier this year, Walsh can now look forward to an exciting handball season.
“The Spa 1 Wall Slam was an outstanding success,” said Eoin O’Donoghue, Tournament Director and PRO of the Spa/Killarney Handball Club. “We hosted 60 games during the day with the standard of handball at a very high level. There were plate and cup competitions for five grades including Men’s B, Men’s C, Ladies B, Ladies C and Masters 45 plus.”
While the majority of the other titles were won by players from outside Kerry, there was joy for Tommy Quirke (Glenbeigh) in the Men’s B Plate final and for Róisín King (Glenbeigh) in the Ladies C Plate final.
In the Men’s B final, John Joe Quirke (Glenbeigh) lost to Anthony Fitzgerald (Waterford) 21-17; John Coggeran (Roscommon) defeated Kieran O’Brien (Killarney) 21-15 in the Masters final; and in the Ladies C final Barbara Hanley (Galway) defeated Sara Dineen (Killarney) 21-16.
Adam Moynihan: Culture of lawlessness is partly to blame for GAA violence
Why are so many GAA matches turning violent and/or abusive to the point that they need to be abandoned?
In Kerry, two underage fixtures had to be called off this past month alone. One, an U11 hurling game in which scores weren’t even being kept, was ended prematurely by the referee who was apparently on the receiving end of persistent verbal abuse. Another, an U15 football match in Kilcummin, came to a halt after a Cordal mentor was allegedly physically assaulted. The man in question ended up in hospital.
The spate of violence has not been confined to Kerry. Far from it. Matches in Roscommon, Wexford and Mayo have also been blighted by attacks on match officials. And some referees are rightly saying, “no more”. After a ref was attacked at a minor game in Roscommon last month, referees across the county briefly went on strike in solidarity.
If GAA officials are not concerned about the same thing happening again, quite conceivably on a wider scale, they should be.
Where does it all come from, this abuse and this violence? Why is it so prevalent in Gaelic games?
While it’s true that there is invariably a negative public reaction to instances of violence at GAA matches, I actually think a significant percentage of stakeholders are too accepting of it as a phenomenon.
Take the Armagh-Galway incident from this past summer for example. When Armagh sub Tiernan Kelly waded into a melee and gouged Damien Comer’s eye, the video footage enraged the vast majority of people who saw it. Kelly was widely condemned for his actions, even by outsiders like media personalities and politicians.
But then came the counter-reaction from within GAA circles. They said that Kelly was being vilified. The response was over the top. He was a good guy who simply made a mistake. These things happen.
As a GAA lover I personally can’t stand it when people who don’t follow the sport weigh in on these issues (politicians especially) but, for me, most of what was initially said about Kelly was justified. Sticking your finger in someone’s eye doesn’t just happen. It’s a despicable act of violence. In the end he got a six-month ban, meaning he misses a grand total of zero intercounty matches. Does that punishment fit the crime?
Surely a stronger message needs to be issued that people who engage in violence are not welcome.
When it comes to anyone entering the field of play – be they a supporter, mentor or some kind of hanger-on – and physically assaulting a referee or a player or another coach, they must be dealt with in the strongest possible terms. I’m talking about lifetime bans.
As a further deterrent, clubs and teams who fail to control their members should be punished appropriately. This should include expulsion from competitions for repeat offenders. As long as violent individuals are getting away lightly thanks to disciplinary action that doesn’t go far enough, these things will continue to happen.
GAA rule-makers have to get serious about the scourge of violence before referees pull the plug. Or before someone gets severely injured. Or worse.
I can’t help but feel as though our broadly lax attitude towards the laws of the game is a significant factor also. I’ve written this sentence on numerous occasions before so you may be sick of reading it, but I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true: so many rules in the GAA are so poorly enforced, you wonder why they bothered writing them down in the first place.
You have to hop or solo after four steps, but you can get away with seven or eight. You have to wear a gumshield, but you can tuck it into your sock. You have to be 13 metres away from the referee when he throws in a hop ball, but two metres will do. Managers have to stay off the pitch, but five yards over the line is grand. You have to make a clear striking motion when executing a handpass in hurling, but you can throw it too.
There is a culture of lawlessness in Gaelic football and hurling that I don’t think exists in any other sports of their kind.
It makes the games impossible to referee “properly” because every participant and observer has their own interpretation of what’s allowed. The referee can’t be right in everyone’s eyes if the rules have multiple nebulous interpretations.
So, with that in mind, should we be surprised that referees are getting it from all angles? Is it any wonder that people who should never even dream of entering the field of play feel as though they can?
Handing down proper punishments for violent attacks is really important but we must also have far more respect for the rules on a wider scale. No more half measures.
Golf fundraiser set to exceed expectations
By Michelle Crean Good weather and 50 participating teams made for very successful charity days at Ross Golf Club on Friday and Saturday. The final count of the proceeds and the presentations for […]
By Michelle Crean
Good weather and 50 participating teams made for very successful charity days at Ross Golf Club on Friday and Saturday.
The final count of the proceeds and the presentations for St Francis Special School and Kerry Cancer Support Group will take place in the near future.
Captain Donie Broderick was amazed and delighted with the excellent response and wants to thank the main sponsors, Independent Irish Health Foods, Killarney Race Co and M D O’Sheas. He also wants to thank all teams and tee box sponsors and the sponsors of the prizes for the fundraising raffle.
“The big winners over these two great days are both charities who are so deserving and we are
delighted to be able to assist them,” Donie said.
The winning team was made up of Aidan O’Connor, Mary Cronin, Ger Lenihan and Dermot Roche.
The runner-up team was from Kilcummin PO included Muiris Healy, Philip O’Connor, Eugene Kennedy and Dermot O’Sullivan.
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