GAA boss O'Neill slams 'rigged draw' allegations04/07/2012 - 10:08:07
Furious GAA president Liam O’Neill has warned inter-county players who slandered him on Twitter that he will take action if they do so again.
The Laois man angrily dismissed as "outrageous" suggestions made on the social networking site that Monday morning’s All-Ireland football second round qualifier draw was rigged to ensure Cavan faced Kildare and setting up a potential Seánie Johnston return home to face his native county.
O’Neill vehemently denied the accusations about the legitimacy of the process, which was carried out by him and TV3 Gaelic football pundit Liam Hayes live on the station’s Ireland AM programme.
"It was one-sided and it was outrageous to suggest that a draw would be rigged," lashed O’Neill.
"They called into question the honesty of the entire TV3 crew, the games section in Croke Park, they called into question my honesty and the honesty of Liam Hayes and the two cameramen.
"That is outrageous, absolutely outrageous.
"It can be clearly seen that they were the sixth ball out of each pocket. I’d love someone to demonstrate to me how that can be rigged.
"They were put into the third bowl, Liam Hayes twirled them and I looked the other way and pulled them out.
"Why on earth would a GAA president lower himself to the state where he fixed a draw? What value would it be?
"But what’s really hurtful is I have never criticised any player in my life as an administrator.
"I have never said anything bad about any player and I find it outrageous that people would tweet what apparently was tweeted about us.
"The message has to go to the players that doing it on Twitter doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility for what you have said.
"I take a very dim view of it.
"I am not going to do anything this time but it’s something I am watching carefully and will not accept people slandering me like that."
O’Neill explained that he arrived in TV3’s Ballymount studios in Dublin before 7.30am on Monday and only met Hayes a few moments before they walked into the studio together.
"He is a very serious man and someone for whom I have very serious respect.
"His only comment on me (in his newspaper column) wasn’t all that favourable so to suggest that we would collude in a draw is stretching it a bit."
O’Neill was taken aback that some of the "fixed" comments came from well-known footballers.
"Those top county players have been trained by the GPA how to behave and how to handle press and they know what they are doing.
"I don’t know what I have done in my life to suggest to them that I would be dishonest but it is just not good enough."
Asked what type of action he would take were he to be slandered again, O’Neill responded: "How long would you accept slander? There is a stage if people continue to slander you that you will have to take action. I’m not even sure what to do about it.
"I want to put down a marker it’s not acceptable it just shouldn’t happen and I don’t want it to happen again."
O’Neill has also told players critical of match officials on Twitter over the weekend that they could be punished for their comments.
"I don’t think anybody has any great respect for people who write stuff and don’t put their name to it.
"The one thing I will say for the players is they are putting their name to it but they might suffer the consequences of it and not everybody is going to be as easygoing as I am.
"We use social media nationally and will not retreat away from it. We are encouraging our units to do it but I think in your (media) profession you know the limits, know what you can say and you don’t slander people, you don’t libel people.
"I think if you know it, others should know it as well. I think people need to realise they need to be responsible for their comments. These people have been educated by the GPA on funds provided by us."
GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell admitted he was concerned by the players’ criticism of match officials on Twitter over last weekend.
"Obviously, the whole advent of social media is a challenge for every organisation. It can be very positive if harnessed in the right way.
"But it can also cause some issues if it’s not. And we have encouraged players to be very, very careful of their attitude to Twitter, and just to draw breath on occasion and reflect and maybe leave it to the following morning or 24 hours before they actually put pen to paper, so to speak."
This story courtesy of the Irish Examiner
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