We all know that Armagh's Ciaran McKeever was sent off on Sunday for a mystery incident but it seems there was some very extreme provocation from one Laois player.
On St Patrick's Day we all watched as Loughgiel Shamrocks of Antrim, led by Liam Watson, came to Dublin and walked away with the All-Ireland Club hurling crown in fine style. On the same pitch later that day Armagh’s Crossmaglen Rangers and Garrycastle of Westmeath played out a classic football final, and we will all have the pleasure of seeing two great sides go at it again soon.
So, on the surface of it, the GAA is a thriving, cross-border body with nobody having any issue about which part of this island you happened to be born on once you step out onto the pitch. And for the vast majority of members, players and supporters, that holds true.
But an incident in last weekend’s game between Armagh and Laois at O’Moore Park shows that there are still some nutcases togging out at inter-county level. According to today’s Irish Daily Star, an as yet unnamed Laois player called Armagh captain Ciaran McKeever a “British b*****d” in the tunnel at half-time. A few bars of “God Save The Queen” were also sung in his direction.
While the paper doesn’t state it, we have to assume that these provocations at least contributed to McKeever's decision to strike out and earn his red card, a dismissal which baffled most of those in attendance.
The paper quotes an Armagh source who confirmed the incident took place. “Ciaran McKeever suffered unbelievable verbal abuse," says the source. "They went in singing God Save The Queen, said youse British b*****ds – the linesman and referee warned the player a number of times about his behaviour.”
With an Armagh man, Justin McNulty, in charge of the Laois team, he surely can’t stand for this if the allegation is proven. And it will be interesting to hear what happens if Armagh appeal the red card and further details emerge about the mystery Laois ‘sledger’.
One to watch we suspect.