A mass brawl between Armagh and Galway footballers in Croke Park has been described as “disturbing” and “concerning” by Ireland’s premier.
Taoiseach Michéal Martin said what had happened at the end of normal time in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Dublin on Sunday was “shocking” and insisted there is “no room for that in any sport”.
Minister for Sport Catherine Martin branded an alleged eye-gouging incident “absolutely appalling” and said any disciplinary action taken by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) must “send a clear signal” that such violence will not be tolerated.
A number of players and members of both senior county panels were involved in the outbreak of violence and footage showed a member of the Armagh panel appearing to gouge the eyes of Galway’s Damien Comer.
Asked on Monday about the incident, Mr Martin told reporters: “I think it was a shocking scene. It was a great game of football and awful that it was marred by what transpired at the end of the game.
“And I think the Gaelic Athletic Association obviously will deal with that and will have to deal with that through its procedures and processes, but there is no room for that in any sport, and particularly when young people are watching their heroes on the football or hurling or soccer fields, they don’t need to see this type of behaviour.
“And it was quite, quite disturbing to see and quite concerning.”
Ms Martin said the “edge of the seat” game should have been remembered as the match of the year, but instead had been overshadowed by the “appalling scenes”.
She said footballers need to remember they are role models for young people.
She added: “There is no place for violence in sport and I would hope that whatever disciplinary procedures take place that it will send a clear signal that that sort of behaviour is not to be repeated.”
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Of the alleged eye-gouging, she said: “It’s absolutely appalling stuff and there are young families go to these games. It’s not just about young children who grow up to participate in the sports but actually it’s a family event.
“I know of a five-year old who was at that match yesterday, first time experience. They should have come home remembering what an amazing, as I said edge of the seat stuff, it was. Instead they see sports players behaving like that and it’s despicable.”
The game went to extra time and the Orchard county eventually lost a penalty shoot-out, meaning Galway will meet Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final.