The levels of personal abuse suffered by GAA players and managers is alarming
The extent of the abuse received by GAA managers that has come to dominate the discourse in recent days is truly sobering. The revelation from former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice that one of his players was on the receiving end of a letter in the post that implored the player to “jump off a cliff” is truly disturbing.
Perhaps most troubling is that Fitzmaurice’s issues with anonymous trolls is not an isolated incident, in recent days a number of leading figures involved in gaelic games have detailed the horrific abuse they’ve been subjected too.
The Kerry great waited until after he left the post before he detailed the abuse he has had to deal with: "I think the letters thing has taken on a life of its own. It's important to clarify where the comment came from,' said Fitzmaurice
"Since I've taken over, I got a collection of letters. It's nothing new for me, going right back to 2013. I've never mentioned it to anyone; I've certainly haven't mentioned it in public, before. It's not something I take any notice of, really.
"Something that changed this Summer was the players, and a player in particular, got a letter. It was more that what was in the letter, that annoyed me. I felt it had gone too far. A player was told in a letter to jump off a cliff, and take two or three other players with him, those players were named in the letter - I felt that was going way too far"
"When its coming at the manager, and the selectors - and we got a few this Summer. It's no harm for them either to get a touch of it. When it goes to a player; it's gone too far. The lads are amateurs."
Suicide is one of the biggest killers of young men in Ireland, in 2015 Ireland had the 7th highest rate of suicide across 33 European countries, it is beyond abhorrent that some twisted individual would actually direct a player to jump off a cliff.
Perhaps most concerning is that this level of disturbing abuse is not isolated. Former Mayo manager James Horan revealed he had to get the Garda involved assistance after receiving hate mail during his time in charge of the county.
“I got the police involved with some of those. I brought it to the attention of the guards and that’s really what you need to do with some of those.
“Some of them would be very concerning without going into what they were. You needed to go to the appropriate authorities with it.”
Former Dublin and Clare boss Anthony Daly was also on the receiving end of a poison pen during his career on the sidelines - he detailed his experience on the Irish Examiner's 'Paper Talk' podcast:
“In my Clare time, God, I used to get letters from a fella in Mayo, and I remember mentioning it one night to Fr. Harry who had been the manager of the '70s team, and he said; 'Is that fella still writing letters? I thought he was dead.'
“I looked up his name in the phone book, and found this uniquely Clare name and I rang him.
“I told him, 'If you ever send a letter to my house again, I'll personally drive to Mayo and meet you at your front door.'”