GAA PRESIDENT LIAM O’Neill says that the post-match invasion of playing fields cannot be justified in modern society.
O’Neill added that the Association would once again try to enforce stronger deterrents to fans’ on-field celebrations, saying the practice is a serious safety risk for those attending GAA fixtures.
“This was painted as an insurance risk for the GAA,” said O’Neill, “it was never about that for us. It is about safety.
“We have seen the security tapes from Croke Park, we know what happens. I remember myself, in one Leinster final when I was Leinster chairperson, a wall of people came off The Hill and they raced across the field. I turned to the person beside me and said ‘I hope nobody in the front row falls here’ because the stampede could not have got the word to stop. I just felt that day that the line had to be drawn.”
O’Neill cited a Jimmy Deenihan injury in a pitch invasion in 1981 as an example of how crowd behaviour can be detrimental to player welfare and countered the argument that scenes such as the celebrations following Limerick’s Munster SHC victory were part of the fabric of the sport.
“The presentation in Limerick wasn’t great. People couldn’t see the presentation, the stand was crowded, we were surrounded by people standing up on seats in front of us. It wasn’t safe.”
“It’s a pity it took three claims to get people behind what it is. A number of commentators have been commenting on the issue and saying it is traditional to go on the field and so on. It is actually dangerous and it is not justifiably in modern society that people put themselves at risk by going onto a field.”
He added: “When you speak on something like this people react negatively to you because they think you are being a spoil-sport. You’re not, you are putting people first and sometimes people have to be helped to see that this isn’t a good idea. ”
The idea of players parading around the ground with the cup is something new and it is something special and I think it has proven its worth in Croke Park and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be done elsewhere.”
O’Neill would not go into detail on the stage of the three claims personal injury claims made after the Munster hurling final, but was keen to add that his major concern is that a safety risk occurred in the first place.