Dr Crokes call an Insult

January 31, 2012

In my position as sports reporter for “The Examiner” over the past 20 years I have had the honour of reporting on the most successful club team in modern times (if not ever) Crossmaglen Rangers. Since 1996 Crossmaglen Rangers have won 15 Armagh County Titles, 8 Ulster titles and 5 All-Ireland Club titles played, in 132 championship matches in 32 different venues and have always taken their victories and defeats with the same dignity. No other club in the country has sustained their level of success and now as they chase yet another national title their marvellous achievements are being undermined by what I perceive as an insult from Dr Crokes chairman Vincent Casey, who through a media outlet called for”segregation of supporters” at the forthcoming All-Ireland Club Semi final against Crossmaglen Rangers.

While not wanting to get involved in a war of words over the call, and any hidden innuendos raised by it, in trying to put pressure on officials ahead of the up coming semi-final, I see the cheap shot from the Chairman, as a scurrilous attempt to discredit Crossmaglen Rangers Club & supporters. As a Munsterman I am all too familiar with the perceptions that exist with regards to Northern football (not even Ulster) as the ‘them and us’ situation really exists. Tolerance of the Northerners was grand down the years as they only occasionally came to prominence but their arrival as a major regular winning force has seen question marks being put against them for the way they play football, the tactics they employ and now an even lower blow by calling for segregation.

The “SEGREGATION” call goes against and also insults the basic foundations upon which the association has thrived on since its’ formation. The open mingling of rival supporters has been the envy of many a sport down through the years. Thankfully GAA administrator Fergal McGill released a statement saying that segregation at matches was ‘not a part of the GAA’s culture.”The GAA also stated that separating rival supporters at matches is not an issue they will be following through.

There is no doubt that this “call”, even though it was followed by a Crokes statement of mis-representation to dilute the situation, will add fuel to an already eagerly awaited encounter. By the way, you would think that having been in previous finals the Dr Crokes would know that there are family tickets available, and block bookings for groups of supervised juveniles provided requests are made in plenty of time are facilitated where possible by the GAA.