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Reaction To Armagh-Cavan Ugly Pre-Match Brawl

Shemozzle has been a prominent word in GAA circles this week and here we take a closer look at the more significant ‘shemozzle’ that took place this weekend, but received less coverage.

Cork and Waterford received all the headlines in the aftermath of  last weekend as their ‘shemozzle’ evolved from the infamous Anthony Nash penalty. But enough talk about Nash for another week, there were far more ugly scenes before the ball had even been thrown in at the Athletic Grounds prior to Armagh’s Ulster Senior Football Championship clash with Cavan. These were disgraceful scenes that deserve a lot more condemnation.

There was a sense of ‘grudge match’ about the game as both sides met at a similar stage last year with Cavan significantly disposing of Armagh. The tables were slightly turned this year in that Armagh had home advantage and were not going to allow Cavan to have a repeat of last year’s comfortable victory. This may easily have been the reason for the extra tension that was on show before the game had begun.

Armagh are a proud footballing county and were very motivated for last week’s game. Joe Brolly and many others criticised them strongly for last year’s performance and they responded well last Sunday…once the game actually started.

Unfortunately, tension boiled over before the pre-match parade and what unfolded was not pretty.

A thirty-man brawl broke out as teams battled for position in the pre-match parade. It was very foolish and the scenes that followed were unacceptable. Cavan full-forward Martin Dunne subsequently missed the game through injury. Ironically he was the man who scored 0-8 from play in last season’s clash. Throw-in was delayed and although a decent contest followed, the game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Reaction has continued throughout the week and there is a strong question as to whether the pre-match parade should now be scrapped.

Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh spoke out on the issue this week calling the whole debacle “nonsense” and saying how he was expecting Croke Park to come down hard on both sides. It will be interesting to see what the outcome will be.

Neither side can be allowed to get away with what occurred last weekend. The scenes were totally unacceptable and relevant punishments must be issued. It was difficult to identify the main culprits from the videos that were made available to the public but that does not excuse anything that went on. Players and respective guilty parties cannot get away with their actions. It was dangerous, ugly and set a terrible example for onlookers of all ages.

Is the easiest solution just to remove the pre-match parade from championship outings? Questions may be asked as to what the real purpose of the pre-match parade is, but it is a long GAA tradition that has never caused problems before, so why should the tradition be changed?

The pre-match parade is a big part of championship day. It adds a lot to the occasion and the atmosphere. It should not be abolished because thirty grown men failed to behave themselves on one occasion.

The fallout from last Sunday has not been as big as many anticipated, mainly down to the ‘Anthony Nash rule’ dominating the headlines. Would this scenario have occurred anywhere other than Ulster? That may come across as a controversial anti-Ulster statement but mind games, psychology and mental advantages are things that are far more significant to teams in Ulster and last Sunday proves that.

The whole scuffle is said to have escalated because of where teams wanted to stand in the parade. It seems outrageous but that is the extent that both sides were willing to go to so they could gain an advantage. They felt that failure to stand their ground would give an advantage to the opponent. It sounds like crazy carry on, but it appears to be the reality of the situation.

The solution is fairly straightforward. An official will have to tell each team where they need to stand for the pre-match parade, and if players try to take the law into their own hands, red and yellow cards will have to be brandished.

The full results of the GAA’s investigation are yet to be announced. It will be interesting to see what happens. One thing is clear, they must take a firm stance and make an example of both Armagh and Cavan. Things like this shemozzle cannot be allowed to happen again.

Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.

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Author: The PA Team

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