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Quinn: GAA Sledging worse than AFL
22 May 2015 10:10
Longford star Michael Quinn believes sledging is a bigger problem in Gaelic Games than in professional Aussie Rules.
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The verbal abuse of opponents has come under a spotlight in Gaelic football after Donegal's tempestuous Ulster preliminary-round win over Tyrone last Sunday, which saw both sides finish with 14 men.
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Red Hand captain Sean Cavanagh, who was sent off for a yellow card followed by a black card, said in the aftermath that players from both sides "probably did overstep the mark to a certain extent".
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Donegal minor manager Declan Bonner, whose side also faced Tyrone in the curtain-raiser on Sunday, claimed yesterday that one of his players had been taunted over the recent death of his father during their game.
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Quinn, who spent three years with Melbourne side Essendon, believes the smaller scale of the inter-county game means players know their opponents better and some choose to use that to try and gain a psychological advantage.
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"There was a good bit [of sledging] in the AFL too but it's probably more so here because it's such a small community in the GAA," he told RTÉ Sport.
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"Guys know more about personal matters or what's going on off the field and they're brought into it.
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"There are guys who can leave it on the pitch and shake hands after it. But there are situations where stuff is said and they say it's left on the pitch but the next time they're on the pitch, it's there.
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"It is part of the GAA too, that you have different characters. I suppose the line is very grey - where is too far? It's been pushed further and further as the game has got greater.
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"It is part of the game, it's not a nice part of the game. Whether it needs to be clamped down on - it probably does."
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Quinn watched the Ulster SFC opener and while he understands the adrenaline-charged nature of the start of the championship, he says keeping your cool in the face of provocation is part of the discipline required of a top player.
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"It is fairly heated," he said. "It's the biggest game of the year and everyone is revved up. You have to take that into consideration as well too.
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"If a game isn't going your way it's very easy to react. That's what they're trying to do with the sledging, they're trying to get a reaction. If you don't react, you'd hope that it would kind of die out.
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"If a player does something and misses out on a game because he's pumped up for the game, that's tough too. You have to be disciplined and you have to respect the guys that have been taking sledging.
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"It's probably nothing new for them. They just kind of need to get protection too. Sean Cavanagh got lots and probably gave lots too. Michael Murphy took more than he gave.
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"Your top players are probably targeted on both teams. Those kind of players need to be protected too.
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"A lot of it is off the ball and you don't get to see it as much in games but it was a lot in your face when the ball was there as well [on Sunday]."
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The midfielder also agreed with the views of former Kerry star Darragh Ó Sé, who wrote in the Irish Times this week that sledging could be a bigger distraction to the perpetrator than the victim.
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"Some players are good at it and can do it. Other players, it takes away from their own game and puts them off more so. I think some people thrive on it and others can't really do it.
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"A different view on things is, if your man is yapping away, it's taking his mind off the game. His job is to take yours off it but you can effectively be taking him for a run around, taking him out of the game. I suppose it's different roles and different strokes for different blokes."
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Currently, Gaelic footballers can be given a black card for 'verbal abuse' of an opponent and referees can either book a player for 'challenging their authority' or bring a free forward 13m for dissent.
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Quinn believes the penalties could be even stricter, suggesting the GAA could emulate the AFL's policy on dissent.
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"If a player is going to get a black card for abusing another player, he has to get a black card for abusing a referee too," said Quinn. "Is the punishment big enough? It's hard to know.
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"The 50-metre penalty is something in AFL for back-answering or not giving the ball back. It's a huge penalty. Whether something like that came into Gaelic football, would it benefit it? It might clamp down on things a good bit.
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"It promotes that kind of 'keep quiet' attitude and it gives respect to the referees as well. You look at the rugby players; there is that respect there."
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The 25-year-old also believes that identifying the guilty party in a confrontation, rather than punishing both sides, could help to clean up the game.
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"There needs to be a bit of leniency from the referee," he said. "You know, instead of two guys getting in a tussle and giving a yellow card to both: that's a win for the defender.
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"He might have provoked it or started it but it's an easy out to give a yellow card to them both. Yet [his opponent] is in a worse position when he mightn't have started it."
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